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Arizona Judicial Branch


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2018 Distinguished Service Award Winners


Programs  2018 Program  2017 Program 2016 Program  2015 Program  2014 Program 

David Withey
Administration of Justice Award
Mr. David Withey, Chief Counsel, Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts

David Withey had an especially productive year providing legal support for judicial branch administration of justice initiatives.  He was deeply involved in the crafting of rules for the denial of bail eligibility, an initiative stemming from the Task Force on Fair Justice for All.  He led the effort to create rules authorizing child removal following legislative changes.  During Withey’s service as general counsel for the Administrative Office of the Courts, he has been instrumental in developing the branch public records and meeting policies, the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration, the Presiding Judges’ Manual, and the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees.  Municipal court administrators and judges are familiar with Withey’s work on the reference document outlining municipal court governance roles and responsibilities.  He currently serves as Chief Counsel; advising the Chief Justice, presiding judges, and the Administrative Director and staff regarding legal and ethical issues that arise in the administration of the judicial branch.  Since 1992, Withey has staffed the State, Tribal, and Federal Court Forum, which meets three times per year and engages judges and other members from the three jurisdictions in cooperation and coordination on a variety of issues.  He also serves as a member of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.  Prior to his employment at the Supreme Court and AOC, Withey graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio, taught school in New Mexico, graduated from law school at A.S.U., provided legal aid services for the Fort Apache Reservation, and performed assistant general counsel duties for the Department of Corrections.


Joseph Olcavage
Judge of the Year Award
Judge Joseph Olcavage, Scottsdale Municipal Court

Judge Joseph Olcavage systematically embraced and adopted the reforms outlined by the Task Force on Fair Justice for All.  He conducted a thorough examination of existing court procedures and modified them in order to adopt the recommended reforms to court-ordered fines, penalties, fees, and pretrial release procedures.  Defendants could reestablish a payment plan and have their license suspension lifted.  A community restitution program in lieu of fines was instituted for indigent parties.  Advisory counsel is available for the DUI arraignment calendar, and Monday through Friday in jail court to argue conditions of release for defendants who cannot post bond.  The court migrated from IVR notifications to text messaging.  The court started delaying the issuance of warrants and defaults for 14 days with notification to the defendant to appear in court to resolve the matter.  Judge Olcavage has served as a judge for 27 years and as the Presiding Judge of the Scottsdale Municipal Court for the last six years. He has continually accepted roles in legal education. Within the legal community, he participates in New Judge Orientation as a mentor judge, a table mentor, and a faculty member.  He has also presented at the Arizona Judicial Conference, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety DUI Conference, the Southern Arizona Judicial Staff Conference, the Arizona Magistrates Association and the Scottsdale Bar Association.  Judge Olcavage currently serves on the Committee on Judicial Education and Training.  Judge Olcavage started his legal career as a defense attorney.  From there he became a prosecutor for the City of Scottsdale.  Just prior to  assuming the bench, he worked in the Scottsdale City Attorney’s Office focusing on employment law.                                                   


Elizabeth Finn
 Chief Justice’s Outstanding Contribution to the Arizona Courts Award
Judge Elizabeth (Ellie) R. Finn, Glendale Municipal Court

Judge Elizabeth (Ellie) R. Finn is Arizona’s longest serving judge having been a judge for thirty-nine years.  For her entire career, she has been at the forefront of issues that affect the citizens of her court.  She is among the state’s leading experts on domestic violence law and practices.  She has also been a leader at finding ways to improve the handling of DUI cases and is respected as an expert on matters involving the interaction between courts and MVD, frequently teaching MVD courses to judges.  Few people have done more than Judge Finn to advance justice for two special populations:  victims of domestic violence and those suffering from mental health conditions. Judge Finn has never met a leadership role that she didn’t fully embrace with passion.  She was a founding member and the first Chair of the Supreme Court Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts.  She launched Arizona’s first city domestic violence Treatment Court without probation resources and managed over $1.5 million in domestic violence grant awards.  In 2013, she implemented a Mental Health Court at Glendale City Court and in 2016 her  court was one of two LJ courts designated to conduct their own competency hearings.  The pilot resulted in legislation allowing LJ courts to handle these proceedings.  Judge Finn has been an active member of the ABA National Conference of Specialized Court Judges, previously serving as its Chair, House of Delegate member, and currently a member of the Executive Committee as well as many other ABA committees.  For 20 years, Judge Finn chaired the Governor's Office of Community and Highway Safety DUI Conference.  Among many other awards, Judge Finn was given an award of Merit with a Proclamation from Governor Jane Hull in 2005 honoring her work with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for her leadership on DUI and highway safety.  Judge Finn is one of three generations of attorneys.  Her father, Herbert B. Finn, a Yale Law School graduate, is known for his civil rights work in cases that were predecessors to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case.  Her mother, Ruth G. Finn, graduated summa cum laude in 1970 from the founding class of the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University.  Continuing the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law tradition are Judge Finn (1972),  her sister, Alice Finn Gartell (summa cum laude 1989), and her son, Jesse Finn Turner (2005) making the family the first third generation family in the school’s history.


Judge of the Year Award

Judge Michael Pollard is a pioneer willing to try new approaches in the hopes of solving problems within his community. Since 1994, Judge Pollard has served as Tucson City Magistrate. In 2008, he created Arizona's first Veterans Court specialty docket. As a US Marine Corps veteran himself, Judge Pollard has an immediate kinship with the veterans who arrive in his court. Since then, several municipal and justice courts have relied on Judge Pollard's expertise as a mentor as they set up their own Veterans Courts. Veterans Court was built on the successful specialty court model he launched in 2004 to deal with legal problems among Tucson’s homeless. Bringing community service providers together to assist veterans, the homeless, and disadvantaged individuals has paid great dividends in the Tucson community.  Judge Pollard served as member and Chair of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts and was actively involved in statewide judicial and domestic violence issues. He also served on the National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges/Department of Justice Committee that formulated the Domestic Violence Bench Card. Judge Pollard just recently stepped down from 20 years as chair of the Supreme Court’s Court Automation Coordinating Committee. Among his many honors, Judge Pollard was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016 and became the first recipient of the James E. Rogers College of Law, Veterans Advocacy Clinic Battle Buddy Award. Also in 2016, he received the League of United Latin American Citizens Community Service Award. In 2015, Congressman Raul Grijalva recognized his service to veterans by reading a commendation into the Congressional Record.  He began his legal career in private practice before joining the Pima County Public Defender’s Office and later the Pima County Attorney’s Office.  He returned to private practice before the lure of public service attracted him to the Tucson City Prosecutor’s Office and, eventually, the role of magistrate.  

Judge of the Year Award

Judge Michael Pollard is a pioneer willing to try new approaches in the hopes of solving problems within his community. Since 1994, Judge Pollard has served as Tucson City Magistrate. In 2008, he created Arizona's first Veterans Court specialty docket. As a US Marine Corps veteran himself, Judge Pollard has an immediate kinship with the veterans who arrive in his court. Since then, several municipal and justice courts have relied on Judge Pollard's expertise as a mentor as they set up their own Veterans Courts. Veterans Court was built on the successful specialty court model he launched in 2004 to deal with legal problems among Tucson’s homeless. Bringing community service providers together to assist veterans, the homeless, and disadvantaged individuals has paid great dividends in the Tucson community.  Judge Pollard served as member and Chair of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts and was actively involved in statewide judicial and domestic violence issues. He also served on the National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges/Department of Justice Committee that formulated the Domestic Violence Bench Card. Judge Pollard just recently stepped down from 20 years as chair of the Supreme Court’s Court Automation Coordinating Committee. Among his many honors, Judge Pollard was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016 and became the first recipient of the James E. Rogers College of Law, Veterans Advocacy Clinic Battle Buddy Award. Also in 2016, he received the League of United Latin American Citizens Community Service Award. In 2015, Congressman Raul Grijalva recognized his service to veterans by reading a commendation into the Congressional Record.  He began his legal career in private practice before joining the Pima County Public Defender’s Office and later the Pima County Attorney’s Office.  He returned to private practice before the lure of public service attracted him to the Tucson City Prosecutor’s Office and, eventually, the role of magistrate.