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Arizona's Longest Tenured Judge Retires Thursday

Arizona’s longest sitting judge retires Thursday after more than four decades running Glendale and Phoenix city courtrooms.

Judge Elizabeth Finn grew up in the civil rights movement in Arizona and became a lawyer, which was the family business.

Finn said energy and a drive to make city court better have been key themes of her career. They helped her first get onto the bench in Phoenix in the late 1970s. They guided her decision to become Glendale’s top judge in the early 2000s. And they’re key to her plans going forward. 

“I may retire from being presiding judge in Glendale, but I’m not retiring from passion,” Finn said.

Some of Finn’s passions are domestic violence and mental health, for which she created specialty courts during her roughly 43-year-career as a judge.

Domestic violence started to drive Finn in the 1980s, when she saw victims harmed again by the court system. One of Finn’s accomplishments was to write rules for judges overseeing domestic violence and protective order cases.

When she became Glendale’s top judge, Finn worked to bring the court in-line with recommendations by domestic violence experts.

“Swift, sure consequences are always your best result. It doesn’t matter if it’s domestic violence or anything. That’s what’s your best opportunity to effectuate change,” she said.  

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.