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Continuing to recognize outstanding judicial service at the local level, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has announced the 2020 recipients of the Maricopa County Superior Court Judicial Officer of the Year Award.
Created in 2018 to honor judicial officers on the front lines of one the largest court systems in the country, this year’s awards went to Judge Rosa Mroz and Commissioner Barbara Spencer. Judge Warren Granville also was honored for his years of service to ASU Law students.
Ray English, ASU Law’s assistant dean overseeing the Office of Career and Employment Services, said the honorees “work with the public more than anybody else on a day-in and day-out basis, and they do great things within Maricopa County. They have a significant impact on the community, and we are thrilled to recognize their outstanding accomplishments.”
Here is more on this year’s recipients.
Appointed to the Superior Court in 2004, Judge Mroz was nominated by Eleanor Satuito on behalf of nine individuals dubbed “Team Rosa.” Judge Mroz is the first woman Asian-American judge in a court of general jurisdiction in Arizona and the second Asian American woman judge statewide.
“She is a phenomenal jurist who knows the law, respects all who appear in front of her, is a mentor to other judicial officers and serves her community,” Satuito said.
While serving as Presiding Judge of the Court’s Probate and Mental Health Department just over 10 years ago, Judge Mroz was a significant contributor to overhauling the department, which protects some of Maricopa County’s most vulnerable residents.
“The changes that she implemented as a result of her work with stakeholders resulted in greater accountability, more stability, and perhaps most impactful, increased trust in the system,” Satuito said.
Beyond her work with the Probate Department, Judge Mroz has served on the criminal bench where she has earned respect for her commitment to both victims of crime and those accused of crimes. While serving on criminal and civil calendars, Judge Mroz has interacted with thousands of jurors, with Satuito adding, “She has gone above and beyond to make sure that those who are called to serve are able to do so without fear of retaliation. And, perhaps more important and personal to some jurors, she also brings homemade treats for them to enjoy.”
In addition to her service on the bench, Judge Mroz is deeply involved in the community with a long-standing commitment to the Arizona Asian American Bar Association (AAABA), where she served as an officer for seven years prior to being appointed to the bench. Following her appointment, Judge Mroz and her husband continued their support of AAABA by hosting the fall picnic at their home. Through her work with the AAABA, “Judge Mroz helps create an environment locally where every Asian American or Asian judge, lawyer, and/or law student can network and see people like themselves with similar life experience and, perhaps, draw some support and strength from them,” Satuito said.
Commissioner Spencer is widely known and respected as the “mental health guru” of the Maricopa County Superior Court. Serving for more than 14 years on the Superior Court, she has been the Superior Court’s Presiding Commissioner since 2015. In this role, she is a member of the Judicial Executive Committee tasked with handling the Critical Calendar Schedule covering all court calendars. Her service has contributed to the court functioning smoothly, even when resources are thin. She previously was Judicial Officer presiding over the Veteran’s Court from 2011-2015.
Lisa VanderBerg nominated Commissioner Spencer, highlighting her mental health expertise.
“Commissioner Spencer has dedicated herself to being a professional resource to the Court from her prior career in psychology and mental health counseling,” VanderBerg said. “In that role, she has assisted with the training of both judicial officers and members of the bar on mental health best practices. Commissioner Spencer has also provided training for judicial officers on Mental Health/Rule 11 best practices. She has presented several trainings for the bench and bar on the legal process and best practices at Desert Vista Mental Health Court as well as numerous trainings for judicial officers participating in the Veterans StandDown.”
In addition, Commissioner Spencer has served the state’s legal community for over the last two years as a member of the Arizona Office of the Courts’ Committee on Mental health, which is reviewing rules and best practices regarding mental health for courts across the state.
Judge Granville is honored for his eager and enthusiastic mentoring of new ASU Law student externs every semester throughout his 20-year service on the Maricopa County Superior Court before retiring in May.
Judge Granville, a 1979 ASU Law graduate, worked as an assistant attorney general for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office from 1979 until his appointment to the bench in 2000. After his appointment to the bench, Judge Granville began working with ASU Law through the externship program.
Known for his kindness, patience, and intelligence, Judge Granville was frequently sought after by students in his “Ask Warren” breakout session during educational trainings. When he retired, many of his colleagues recognized that a valuable institutional resource will no longer be on the bench, and those at ASU Law miss his phenomenal mentoring skills and his willingness to give of his time generously.
ASU Law recognizes its sponsors for their generous contributions to making the Maricopa County Superior Court Judicial Officers of the Year Award possible:
Snell & Wilmer
Kercsmar & Feltus
Law Offices of Florence M. Bruemmer
Squire Patton Boggs
Martin & Bonnett
May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie
Jennings Haug Cunningham
Photo caption: From left are Judge Rosa Mroz, Commissioner Barbara Spencer and Judge Warren Granville