Longtime Paradise Valley Judge Elsa Lynch to Retire; In Unusual Position, She Is Also Court Manager

Elsa Lynch, Paradise Valley's longtime judge and court manager, will retire July 15.

Her position is so unusual, the town might need two people to replace her. She's the only court administrator we've ever heard of who is also a municipal judge. The town's Web site says she's an "Arizona Supreme Court Certified Limited Jurisdiction Judge."

Lynch had been a court manager in Orange County, California before she got hired on in Paradise Valley's court 18 years ago, when the town's pioneering speed-camera program was just three years old. She found too much of the Wild West in the upscale burg, she says.

One defensive-driving school paid the town with large sums of cash. Court clerks examined photo-enforcement evidence and decided whether a motorist was, indeed, the person pictured in a speed-camera ticket. Lynch says she immediately put a stop to the latter practice, which she called a violation of normal rules of evidence.

"I completely changed the way they did photo radar," she says.

Despite her role as Photo-Enforcement Queen in Paradise Valley, we've always found Lynch approachable and without the sort of ego you might encounter with a standard judge, perhaps because she found her way to the black robes in an atypical manner. When we interviewed her for our 2006 feature article on photo enforcement, we happened to mention that most city courts separate the photo tickets going to corporate violators as a way to save court time and money. She quickly had her court do it the same way.

Lynch says she plans to travel before finding some other kind of work to keep busy.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.