Pima County Superior Court

The Pima County Superior Court employs 30 full-time judges– the second largest superior court in the state. Judges are nominated for the bench by the the Pima County Commission on Trial Court Appointments and later appointed by the governor. Each judge serves a four year term and stands for retention during a general election for another term.

The court also has three full-time judges pro-tempore, 16 full-time commissioners, and one part-time commissioner who appointed by the presiding judge of the court or the juvenile bench presiding judge through a local merit selection process.

A full-time judge’s annual salary is  $135,844, half of which is paid by the state of Arizona and the other half is paid by Pima County.   A commissioner’s annual salary is $122,260.

The presiding judge is Jan E. Kearney, who was appointed to the bench by former Governor Jane Hull in 2001. Judge Kearney previously served as the presiding judge on the family law bench and also served on the criminal bench. As the presiding judge of the superior court, she is in charge of the management of the courts. She assigns judges to specialized courts (juvenile, probate, criminal, law and motion, family law, etc.), oversees the calendar, and chairs meetings of the judges.

Judge Kearney received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1971, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1976. She was a trial lawyer in private practice handling civil and criminal cases before her appointment to the bench. Judge Kearney also served as a prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office in Milwaukee and Tucson.

Presiding Judge Jan Kearney

Judges are assigned on a rotating basis to the following benches or departments for two to five years:

Here is an organizational chart of the court:

Pima County Superior Court Organizational Chart

In the fiscal year 2006, the court handled about 10, 126 criminal cases (felony, misdemeanor, and appeals from lower court) and 10, 637 civil cases.

The court’s budget for 2007/2008 is $45.5 million, with  funds received from Pima County,  the State of Arizona, and special revenue funds.  The special revenue funds include fees for probation, conciliation court, the law library, drug court, and court automation.

Some high profile cases recently include beauty queen Kumari Fulbright’s torture case and the Dr. Bradley Schwartz murder trial.


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