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BEST JUDGMENT Phoenix 2007 - Ronald Reinstein

We've sat in more than a few courtrooms over the years (as observers, thankfully, not as defendants — at least most of the time), so we feel confident that we can fairly "judge" which guy or gal in those old-school black robes is the best around. And isn't it just our (and the community's) lousy luck that the gentleman we are selecting as our numero uno jurist has left the Maricopa County Superior Court bench after more than two decades for greener pastures? What a loss!

Here are a few words that come to mind when Ron Reinstein's name comes up: Compassionate, thoughtful, even-handed, funny, egalitarian. Reinstein has presided over more high-profile cases (most of them death-penalty homicide trials) than any other judge, though his judicial star may have shone most brightly when the powers that be inexplicably rotated him off the criminal bench, first to Family Court and later to Juvenile Court. There, finally out of the spotlight, Reinstein quickly distinguished himself as a go-to guy, the judge whom everyone wanted to appear before because of his attention to detail and always-courteous demeanor.

The courthouse is more than a little darker in his absence.

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