Arizona Legal History

Historical Timeline of the Development of the Court System In Arizona and Other Important Happenings

"The history of Arizona's laws, courts, and lawyers is compelling- and addictive. You uncover records of long-forgotten attorneys, some of them good, some of them scalawags- all of them makers of history". James M. Murphy, prominent attorney

1863- The Territory of Arizona is created and, in 1864, a system of courts is organized on three levels: justice of the peace courts, probate and district courts, and a supreme court

1864- According to the Howell Code of 1864, the practice of law in Territorial Arizona is limited to white males over 21 years of age with good moral character. Educational prerequisites are not mentioned.

1871- Attorneys admitted to the Supreme Court in Arizona are required to pay $1.00 to the clerk of the court as a fee for placing their names on the rolls of attorneys.

1885- The legislature creates county courts in four of Arizona's ten existing counties (Apache, Cochise, Mohave and Pima).

1895- The Bar Association of Arizona is the first attempt to form a statewide organization of lawyers.

1900- The first known minutes of an organized bar association in Arizona, dated March 26, 1900, are entered in longhand in a ledger book, Bar Association of Arizona, 1900-1905.

1901- The Revised Statues of 1901 requires that applicants to the admission of law have "at least a common school education."

1902- Sarah Herring Sorin becomes the first woman admitted to the Arizona bar in 1902. In 1913, she became the first woman to argue a case unassisted by a male counsel in front of the United States Supreme Court.

1912- Arizona is admitted to the union and officially becomes a state on February 14, 1912.

1915- The University of Arizona College of Law in Tucson-the first law school in Arizona and one of the first established in the West- is founded.

1933- The State Bar of Arizona is created by a legislative act on March 17, 1933, as a mandatory membership organization.

1948- Hayzel B. Daniels is the first African American to graduate from the University of Arizona Law School and be admitted to the State Bar of Arizona

1951- Lorna Lockwood becomes the first woman Superior Court judge in Arizona.

1952- Mary Anne Richey becomes the first Deputy County Attorney in Pima County and goes on to become the first woman United States Attorney in the District of Arizona and Arizona's first woman federal judge.

1960- Under the Modern Court Act, the salary for superior court judges in Arizona is raised from an average of $3,500 per year to $17,500 per year, and the Court of Appeals is created.

1961- Lorna Lockwood becomes the first woman Supreme Court Justice in Arizona and goes on to become the first woman in the United States to be Chief Justice of a State Supreme Court.

1964- The Arizona Board of Regents approves the establishment of a law school at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

1966- In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the conviction of Arizonan Ernesto Miranda ruling that his confession was not voluntarily given because he was not warned of his right to remain silent. Those warnings later become a cornerstone of criminal defense rights. Phoenix attorneys John P. Frank and John J. Flynn represent Miranda.

1971- President Richard Nixon nominates William H. Rehnquist, who practiced law in Phoenix from 1953 to 1969, to the United States Supreme Court. Rehnquist becomes Chief Justice in 1986.

1972- Rodney B. Lewis becomes the first Native American admitted to the State Bar of Arizona.

1977- President Jimmy Carter appoints Phoenix attorney Thomas Tang as the firs Asian and Chinese American Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

1979- President Jimmy Carter appoints Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Valdemar Aguirre Cordova as the first Mexican American federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Arizona.

1980- Cecil B. Patterson, Jr. becomes the first black judge appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court. In September 1995 he became the first black judge appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.

1981- President Ronald Reagan nominates Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Sandra Day O'Connor to be the first woman justice to sit on the United States Supreme Court.

1991- Roxana C. Bacon becomes the first woman president of the State Bar of Arizona in June.

Information in this section was taken from the State Bar of Arizona "Living Our Legacy", A History of the State Bar of Arizona 1033-2008

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