Beyond the Back of the Ballot: Answering Your Questions about Arizona's Judges

May 1, 2024

5:30-8:30 p.m.

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

111 E. Taylor Street, Phoenix

Free event parking available at the Law School Parking Garage.

You are invited to join us for an intimate look at Arizona's judicial system.

  • Learn from panelists who are responsible for conducting the merit selection process for Maricopa County Judges.
  • Hear how judges remain appropriately accountable to the public through the Judicial Performance Review, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, the appellate process and retention elections.
  • Receive insight into a world of information available about Arizona’s judges.
  • Explore why Arizona adopted the current system and celebrate how this system promotes both democracy and an independent judiciary often lauded as an example for other court systems.


Judicial Merit Selection Ballot Choice Approaches

By John Phelps and Kellen Bradley, Arizona Attorney, September 2012


Reflections on Arizona's Judicial Selection Process

By Sandra Day O'Connor and RonNell Andersen Jones, Arizona Law Review, Vol. 50:15, pages 15-24


Barry M. Aarons

Former Member of the Commission on Trial Court Appointments

Since 1997 Barry M. Aarons has been the owner of The Aarons Company LLC, a public policy consulting firm specializing in legislative representation, coalition building, business management, seminar and strategic planning facilitation and grass roots advocacy. His client base contains a broad portfolio of private sector, trade association and non-profit think tanks, corporations and organizations as well as political subdivisions. 

Aarons has over 50 years of experience in policy development, public affairs implementation and lobbying in the Arizona Legislature, other state legislatures and the US Congress. His expertise includes economic development, telecommunications, taxation, tourism, workers compensation and health care among other areas as well as campaign management, fund raising and strategic planning.

He facilitates seminars on a multitude of topics including public policy, coalition building, grass roots advocacy, campaign management, message delivery and business management. He has assisted corporations, non-profits and trade associations in the creation of their strategic plans and has developed and implemented speakers’ bureaus and other communications vehicles for communications campaigns, legislative initiatives and ballot propositions.

Aarons previously served as Senior Research Fellow for the Lewisville, Texas based Institute for Policy Innovation and has been a regular faculty member for the Arlington, Virginia based Leadership Institute facilitating and instructing at their schools at scores of locations around the United States and internationally since 1999.

Aarons served on the Glendale and Maricopa County Zoning and Planning Commissions; has been a member of the Arizona Town Hall Board of Directors; and serves on numerous boards and commissions including the Maricopa County (Arizona) Judicial Selection Commission and five years as President of the Zeta Beta Tau Foundation. He is currently International First Vice President of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity

Aarons and his wife, Jody, live in Phoenix, Arizona. They have four children and five grandchildren.


Douglas Cole

Public Member, Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review

Douglas Cole is HighGround Public Affairs Consultants' Chief Operating Officer. He joined the firm in 1998 after serving as a top staffer in the Arizona House of Representatives, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Fife Symington, Press Secretary to Congressman John Rhodes III and staff assistant to Congressman John McCain. A fourth-generation Arizonan, Cole helps guide the firm’s successful lobbying and business development practice.

Cole was a public member of the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments for eight years and was a public member of the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments for over six years. Since 2015, he has been a public member of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review.


Hon. George H. Foster, Jr. (ret.)

Former Member, Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review

Hon. George H. Foster, Jr. was a Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court. He is a graduate of Boston College Law School in Newton Massachusetts. He completed his undergraduate work at The City University of New York where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He was a law clerk to the Hon. David S. Nelson of the Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts. He was admitted to the State Bar of Arizona in 1983.

Judge Foster’s practice began in commercial real-estate transactions and finance at the firm, O’Connor, Cavanagh, Anderson, Westover Killingsworth & Beshears, where worked from 1983 to 1991. It thereafter progressed into banking, bankruptcy, securities, land use and zoning law, securities litigation and general commercial litigation at Allen Kimmerer and LaVelle. In 1993 he joined the firm of Wilenchik & Bartness and became managing attorney from 1996 through 1999. 

He began his judicial career in 1999 as a Commissioner in the Juvenile Division of the Superior Court. Judge Foster was appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court as a trial judge by Governor Janet Napolitano on June 30, 2003. Judge Foster has served in the Family, Civil, Juvenile and Criminal departments where he served until his retirement in February of 2020. 

From 1996 through 1998 he was an adjunct Professor of Law at The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University where he taught a course in Advanced Real Estate Transactions.  He is a charter member of and has served two terms as President of the Thurgood Marshall Inn of Court.

He served as a member of the State Bar Civil Practice and Procedures Committee from 1993 though 2006 where he helped to reorganize the Rules of Arbitration and chaired the State Bar Civil Practice seminar at the State Bar Convention for four years. He has been chairman of the Maricopa County Superior Court Family Court Division Rules Committee. He also served a member of the State Bar Professional Conduct Committee and the Arizona Supreme Court’s Committee on Superior Courts. He also has served on several occasions as a Judge Pro Tem at the Arizona Court of Appeals. In January of 2011 he was appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to the Commission on Judicial Conduct and in June 2014 he was appointed to the Commission on Judicial Performance Review where he served until his retirement. 

Currently he has returned to practice as the Managing Attorney for the Office of the Legal Defender in the JD/JS Dependency and Severance Unit.


Hon. Joseph C. Welty

Presiding Judge, Superior Court in Maricopa County

The Honorable Joseph C. Welty is the Presiding Judge of the Judicial Branch in Maricopa County. He has supervisory authority over the Superior Court and Adult and Juvenile Probation departments and oversite authority over all lower courts in Maricopa County. Judge Welty was appointed to the bench in 2007 and has served in the civil, criminal, family and juvenile departments of the Superior Court.

Prior to becoming a judge, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona for 16 years, where he served as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Section and the Chief of the National Security Section. Judge Welty was an adjunct professor at ASU and has taught extensively on a broad range of topics for the U.S. Department of Justice and the State Bar of Arizona, and for several years co-chaired the New Judge Orientation Program for the Arizona Supreme Court.  He has served on numerous Supreme Court Committees and chaired the Supreme Court’s Criminal Rules Task Force and the Task Force on Rule 32 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Judge Welty was born and raised in Phoenix. He received his BA from Loyola Marymount University and his JD from the Georgetown University Law Center.


Hon. Ron Reinstein (ret.)

Former Judge, Superior Court in Maricopa County

Ron Reinstein retired as a Judge of the Superior Court of Arizona after 22 years on the bench. He now works as a judicial consultant for the Arizona Supreme Court and was appointed by the Chief Justice as the Director of the Center for Evidence Based Sentencing. He received his B.A. from Indiana University in 1970, his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law in 1973 and was inducted into the School of Law’s Academy of Law Alumni Fellows in 2002.

Judge Reinstein also serves as a consultant to the National Institute of Justice, National Center for State Courts, Center for Effective Public Policy, National Forensic Science Technology Center, and the Justice Department Office of Victims of Crime.

Judge Reinstein was a member of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, of which he chaired the Post-Conviction Issues Committee. He is the Chair of the Supreme Court Commission on Victims in the Courts, the Supreme Court Capital Case Oversight Committee, as well as the Chair of the Arizona Forensic Science Advisory Committee. He also serves on the Advisory Council of the National Crime Victim Law Institute, the Board of the Justice Management Institute, the Board of Justice System Partners, and the Advisory Board of the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology, and the Law. He was appointed to the Interagency Working Group of the White House Subcommittee on Forensic Science and is a member of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees, where he serves on the Legal Task Group and the CSI subcommittee.

Judge Reinstein also has served as a presenter and on the faculty of numerous judicial and legal education programs on various subjects including DNA evidence, forensic science, sentencing issues, pretrial justice, capital litigation, victims’ rights, sex offender management, child sexual abuse, and trial advocacy.

Judge Reinstein has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the State Bar of Arizona Outstanding Judge Award, the Arizona Supreme Court Distinguished Service Award for Improving Public Trust and Confidence, the United States Attorney General National Crime Victims Service Award, the State Bar Judicial Award of Excellence, the United States Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for DNA Commission, the Arizona Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for Policy and Leadership, the Arizona Attorney General’s Award as the Outstanding Sexual Assault Judicial Professional, the Outstanding Judge Award from the Maricopa County Bar Association, the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine Award, and the “Empty Shoes” Award from Parents of Murdered Children. He was selected to the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame in 2015 and was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.

In 2017, Judge Reinstein received the Chief Justice's Outstanding Contribution to the Arizona Courts Award, and in 2019 was the recipient of the Judge Learned Hand Award for Public Service.


William (Will) Auther

Vice Chair, Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review

For over 30 years, Will Auther has concentrated his litigation practice in the areas of product liability, construction, toxic tort, and business litigation. Will serves as national and lead trial counsel for a variety of Fortune 500 companies in a wide range of industries on their major exposure cases. He has tried to verdict more than 13 catastrophic injury jury trials and three multimillion-dollar commercial arbitrations in four states. He has served on the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review since 2012. He is an attorney member from Maricopa County and currently serves as the vice-chair of the Commission.

Planning Committee Members

Hon. Suzanne Marwil, Committee Chair

Hon. Sara Agne

Hon. Joan Sinclair

Hon. Wendy Morton

Hon. Elizabeth Bingert

Hon. Joseph Kiefer

Hosted by:

  Judicial Branch logo showing a structure with columns and the scales of justice with the words fairness, impariality and public safety   ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Arizona State University logo


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