PHOENIX, AZ (January 31, 2012) – The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office today mourns the untimely loss of retired State Supreme Court Justice and former colleague Mike Ryan, who dedicated more than three decades of exemplary public service to the citizens of Arizona after serving his country with distinction as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.
“Before assuming the bench, Justice Ryan had a distinguished career as a prosecutor and took the same ethical approach to his duties as a prosecutor to the bench,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “He was well respected among the prosecution and legal communities and although he had retired from the Supreme Court, Justice Ryan was still active in many areas, including his work on oversight committees involving capital punishment. He will be sorely missed,” Montgomery added.
Ryan began his remarkable public legal career at the County Attorney’s Office in 1978, handling major felony crimes and later helping to establish one of the first sex crimes bureaus in the country. In 1986, he was appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court where he presided over numerous high profile cases and established a reputation for dispensing justice with fairness, intelligence and integrity. Ryan was also an early and passionate advocate for victims’ rights. He went on to serve on the Arizona Court of Appeals, gaining appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court in 2002, where he was one of the few Justices to have served as a trial court judge. He retired in 2010.
“The way Justice Ryan carried himself and how he performed his duties overshadowed his disability and made it clear that his personal example of duty and integrity was what people saw first and remembered most,” Montgomery noted.