Norm Davis, a steady-as-she-goes gent we dealt with when he presided as the chief judge in both Juvenile and Family Court, started his five-year term today as the presiding judge of Maricopa County Superior Court.
What we like about Judge Davis (that's a photo of him from a few years back) is his openness, his willingness to discuss legal issues (and specifics when ethically able) and to usually avoid speaking in cliches while so doing.
He succeeds Barbara Mundell, who had the misfortune during her stint of having to professionally deal with both fomer Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio on a regular basis.
The rancor between the bench and county law enforcement has been palpable, and (may have) culminated in the phony bribery case brought by the Thomas/Arpaio machine against then-presiding criminal judge Gary Donahoe (my colleague Sarah Fenske revisited the matter in this week's print edition, found here).
Here's another of our many takes on the crazy court situation, circa 2007.
Taking over as presiding criminal judge is Doug Rayes, a cool head who generally has been respected on both sides of the aisle--prosecution and defense.
The new associate criminal presiding judge is Warren Granville, whom we have known, first as a kick-ass assistant attorney general and then as a judge, since the early 1980s.
Granville, who is known as a law-and-order type (but defense lawyers don't mind appearing before him), was targeted for judicial sanctions by Andy Thomas' crew after he chastised prosecutors for their actions in a quirky case that we wrote about here.
After the article, one of Thomas' top dogs, a veteran prosecutor-turned-Thomas-sycophant named Sally Wells, filed a second complaint to a state commission that considers possible misconduct by judges.
"The New Times article [published] disturbing quotes from Judge Granville that reinforced the Maricopa County Attorney's Office's earlier complaint about Judge Granville's lack of respect for the Judicial Code of Conduct."
Both complaints against the judge were tossed.
Bottom line, Rayes and Granville are fine jurists who will continue to (usually) dispense justice as fairly as possible.
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We would be remiss if we don't mention the solid work that Judge Tim Ryan did as the associate presiding criminal judge over the past several years.
Just by virtue of doing his job (which included keeping the proverbial trains at the courthouse running on time) Ryan found himself directly in the firing line of Andrew Thomas and his mouthy attack dogs.
Check this story out, also by Sarah Fenske.