Brewer picks Brutinel for Arizona Supreme Court seat
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer appointed Yavapai County Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Brutinel to the Arizona Supreme Court on Monday.
Brutinel, a Prescott resident who has served as a judge for 15 years and practiced law for 15 years before that, received the call from Brewer on Monday with news of his appointment.
"It was a combination of being very pleased and excited, and also realizing it's a tremendous responsibility," Brutinel said. "I'm eternally grateful to the citizens of Yavapai County for electing me to this court and for allowing me to serve them and Yavapai County."
Brutinel, currently serves as the judge of Division 2 and was first elected to the court in 1996. He has been a member of the Arizona bar since 1982. His appointment was the second Brewer has made to the Supreme Court.
"The choice of Judge Brutinel by the Governor is a wonderful choice for the state of Arizona. While it is a loss to Yavapai County, it is a significant gain for all Arizonans," Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said. "Judge Brutinel is an intelligent, thoughtful and hard-working judge who brings criminal, juvenile, civil and administrative experience to the bench."
Brutinel, 52, comes to the state's highest court from a county outside the state's largest metro areas. His appointment fills a vacancy created by former Justice Michael Ryan's retirement.
The other finalists to replace Ryan were Court of Appeals Judges Ann Scott Timmer and Diane Johnsen. Timmer and Brutinel are Republicans. Johnsen is a Democrat.
"I think that what I bring to the court is the perspective of a trial judge and the perspective of a juvenile judge as well," Brutinel said.
The Arizona Supreme Court does a number of different things, and Brutinel said he brings knowledge of how trial court judges make decisions, the time pressures, and the caseloads under which trial courts work.
Brutinel also noted that a large part of his career has been spent working in juvenile court and helping to improve services for children and families.
The appointment means the high court will still have a justice who previously served as a trial judge. Ryan began his judiciary career as a Superior Court judge. The four current justices either arrived directly from private practice or first became judges on the Court of Appeals.
Brutinel is not sure yet when he'll begin working on the Arizona Supreme Court, but he's meeting with the Chief Justice to determine the right time.
Brutinel says he will find a place in Phoenix to stay while he's working, but "I don't plan to move out of Prescott."
Brutinel moved to Prescott from Phoenix when he was 3 years old and grew up here. Brutinel said three of his children attend college and his youngest daughter attends Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy in Prescott.
"In recent years, our life has been focused around football and soccer games, wrestling matches, softball and choir recitals," Brutinel wrote in his application. Every Friday during the fall, Brutinel's extended family had dinner then headed to the football game.
Brutinel said he plans on holding his investiture here in Prescott.
The Chief Justice also will determine who will take Brutinel's position as Yavapai County Superior Court presiding judge.
While holding a lower public profile than the governor or the Legislature, the five-justice Supreme Court is both the final interpreter of state law and the overseer of the state's judicial system.
The court in recent years has ruled on such public-policy topics as same-sex marriage, school voucher programs, constitutionality of ballot measures, turf fights between the other branches of government, and the state's current map for legislative districts.
The justices also consider numerous cases involving business lawsuits, criminal appeals and discipline cases involving misbehaving lawyers.