Media Room

Justice Michael D. Ryan (Ret.)

Arizona Judiciary Mourns the Passing of Justice Michael D. Ryan (Ret.)

A funeral mass was held at St. Francis Xavier Church in Phoenix, AZ on Friday, February 3, 2012. Justice Ryan will be buried with honors at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on March 14, 2012.

Justice Ryan's family have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to either of these two charities:
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation - Honoring Marines by Educating Their Children
The Foundation provides college scholarships to children of Marines & Navy Corpsmen – with an emphasis on priority going to those children who have lost a parent in combat. Additionally, Justice Ryan was to receive the “Service Above Self” award on May 12, 2012 from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation for his lifetime of service, and dedication to the Marine Corps & to Arizona.

The Marine Corps Scholarship Committee has established a special scholarship fund to honor Justice Ryan. Information on how to donate to the fund may be found at
909 N. Washington Street, Suite 400
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (703) 549-0060

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
This organization provides financial assistance to injured & critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. This fund also helps with financial relief during hospitalization & recovery. To learn more about the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund & to make a donation, visit:  
825 College Blvd
Suite 102
PMB 609
Oceanside, CA 92057
Tel: (760) 725-3680

Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan (Ret.) passed away on Monday, January 30, 2012. He was 66. His friends, family, and colleagues are shocked and saddened by his sudden passing.

Justice Ryan retired from the Arizona Supreme Court in August of 2010, after serving as a Judge in Arizona for more than 24 years. A life-long community servant, his passing has left a huge loss for everyone who knew and loved him and for Arizonans who depended on him as a patient, careful and thoughtful jurist.

Family and friends will remember Mike as a loving, kind, and thoughtful man. He found the love of his life early on and loved her until the day he died. Karen was his partner in life and his best friend, and together they raised three sons. In recent years, they became proud grandparents of two beautiful grandchildren. From 1974 through 2000, Mike and Karen cared for more than 80 high risk infants, before they were placed for adoption or returned to their birth parents.

Colleagues of Justice Ryan will remember him as a brilliant legal mind. His kind, soft-spoken demeanor masked a fair and thoughtful jurist who managed his courtroom in a firm but respectful manner. His straightforward approach on the bench was respected by all who appeared before him, as well as those who served beside him. Even in retirement, Justice Ryan continued to serve the state as chairperson for several Supreme Court Committees and as visiting Justice on several cases. Throughout his career, he volunteered his time to numerous charitable and professional boards. He was a familiar face around the courthouse and spent part of his last day at the Supreme Court -- a place in the world he loved, filled with people who loved him.

Before his appointment to the Supreme Court in 2002, Justice Ryan served on the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, for more than five years and as a Judge of the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County for more than ten years.

As a trial judge, Justice Ryan presided over a number of high-profile cases on the Maricopa County Superior Court, including AzScam, the Phoenix Suns' drug case, and the criminal trial of Governor Evan Mecham. Before becoming a judge, Justice Ryan was Deputy County Attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, where he served in the major felony bureau and the office's sex crimes unit.

Justice Ryan received his B.A. degree from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1967. After college he served in the United States Marine Corps as an infantry platoon commander from 1967 to 1969. He received a medical retirement because of wounds received in combat in Vietnam and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with a Combat "V" for heroism in combat. Justice Ryan came to Arizona in 1970 and later obtained his Juris Doctorate degree from Arizona State University Law School in 1977.

Justice Michael Ryan is survived by his wife Karen, sons Michael (Michelle), Kevin, and Chris (Jenny), grandchildren Alicia and Aidan, sisters Kathy (Jim Elson), and Megan (Bob Kline), brothers Matthew and Patrick, nieces Mary and Cassandra, and scores of adoring Minnesota cousins. The Justice was predeceased by his parents Don and Kay, and beloved brother Sean and sister-in law Janice.

Condolences to the family may be mailed to the address below and the messages will be delivered to the Ryan Family or you can send an email to

Arizona Supreme Court
In Memory of Justice Michael Ryan
1501 W. Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007