A familiar name will preside over cases at the McDowell Mountain Justice Court following the retirement of Judge Michael Reagan as his daughter, former Secretary of State Michelle Reagan, takes the helm.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve Reagan as the county’s newest Justice of the Peace at its meeting on Sept. 4.
The McDowell Mountain precinct includes much of Scottsdale and parts of Phoenix with boundaries that reach Tatum Boulevard to the west, McDowell Mountain Road to the east, Thomas Road to the south and Stagecoach Pass to the north.
Judge Michael Reagan retired on July 26 and continued to serve in a temporary capacity pending the Board’s appointment.
Michelle Reagan will now have the chance run for the office in the 2020 primary and general elections for a chance to complete her father’s term, which runs through 2022.
Reagan, who was sworn in at the Board of Supervisors meeting, will now oversee a variety of cases including those involving minor civil lawsuits and criminal offenses, including lawsuits where the amount in dispute is less than $10,000, DUI charges and misdemeanor allegations such as shop lifting.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to uphold the high standards that the courts have and that the Board of Supervisors have,” Reagan said.
District 2 Supervisor Steve Chucri, who represents Scottsdale, nominated Reagan from a pool of six applicants that included current and former judges who have served in municipal and justice courts throughout the Valley.
Reagan has no prior judicial experience but did serve in the Arizona Legislature and as Secretary of State from 2015 to 2019.
Reagan also took classes offered by the Maricopa County Superior Court and Judicial College of Arizona. She also completed the new judge orientation program offered by the Arizona Supreme Court.
During her time in office, the Arizona Attorney General found in 2016 that Reagan violated the law when, as secretary of state, she failed to mail out about 200,000 election pamphlets, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.
Chucri said he and county staff spent seven weeks performing background checks, vetting candidates to ensure they lived within the district and did not change party affiliations just to become eligible for the job.
State statute requires that the new justice of the peace be a resident of the McDowell Mountain Precinct, a registered voter and a registered Republican like the retiring Judge Reagan.
Chucri cited electability and Reagan’s “overwhelming letters of support” as reasons for the nomination.
Reagan’s application package for the position included letters of support from Governor Doug Ducey, and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould and now-retired Justice Scott Bales.
Reagan also received support from her former colleague at the Arizona legislature, District 6 Supervisor Steve Gallardo.
Gallardo, who was in the 2002 legislative freshman class alongside Reagan, described her as an excellent candidate.
“We didn’t always agree; there were times we did,” Gallardo said of their time in the legislature. “She was always fair. She always looked at everything from a big picture (point of view) and took the partisan politics out of it, which is sometimes very hard to do down there at the Capitol.”
Board Chairman Bill Gates echoed comments made by both Gallardo and Chucri about the importance of Justice Courts in the county.
“She knows the district, the precinct extremely well and I know will do a great job dispensing justice, because it is a very important and solemn responsibility that our justices of the peace have,” Gates said.
Gallardo said justice courts are where people “without much money in their pockets” can seek justice.
According to Arizona law, Reagan can earn a salary between $36,250 and $101,500 based on the volume of cases she hears.