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Governor Ducey Appoints Kathryn Hackett King as Newest Arizona Supreme Court Justice 

(Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Gov. Doug Ducey welcomes Kathryn Hackett King on Thursday as his newest appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court. With her is her husband, Bill, and their children Emilia and John.

By Howard Fischer 
Capitol Media Services 

PHOENIX -- Gov. Doug Ducey tapped an attorney who represents employers in legal matters, including with workers, to be the newest justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. 

The pick of Kathryn Hackett King, the sixth for the sitting governor, follows the retirement earlier this year of Andrew Gould to run for attorney general. But the seven-member court still has only five Ducey appointments, as Gould himself was a Ducey pick. 

While King is a relative unknown to the public, she is no stranger to the governor. 

She served as his deputy legal counsel from 2015 to 2017 before becoming a partner at BurnsBarton, a woman-owned law firm. 

And last year, fellow Republican Ducey tapped her to serve on the Arizona Board of Regents. 

The governor, in a prepared statement, praised her judicial philosophy and experience. 

"Kate's strong belief in the separation of powers and experience serving in all three branches of government will serve the people of Arizona well,'' he said. That judicial branch experience includes having been a clerk early in her career for Michael Ryan when he was a justice on the state supreme court. 

"I have witnessed her intelligence and wisdom firsthand, and I know she is well-respected in the legal field.'' 

With King's pick, four of Ducey's picks have no judicial experience. Clint Bolick was an attorney for the Goldwater Foundation, with John R. Lopez IV working in the attorney general's office and Bill Montgomery having been Maricopa County attorney. 

But Ducey noted King was one of seven people who had been nominated by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. That panel has to screen all would-be justices and the governor is required to choose from that list. 

That is far different from the federal process where the president picks whoever he or she wants subject only to Senate confirmation. 

Ducey said the commission has always given him "incredibly talented choices'' from which to choose. 
"I, along with my team, determined she would be the best future justice to serve on the Arizona Supreme Court,'' he said. And the governor said he does not consider prior judicial experience as a requirement. 

"We do look for diversity in terms of background and service in the law,'' he said. "And Kate brings that private sector experience as well.'' 

Ducey said he also was swayed by her experience clerking for Ryan as well as serving as a legal fellow, also early in her career, in the office of then-Sen. Jon Kyl. 

The appointment of King as only the fifth woman to serve on the state's high court also has another bit of diversity. 

King noted on her application that her maternal grandmother is Hispanic, though she acknowledged when being interviewed by the appellate court commission that she speaks no Spanish. 
Her appointment is effective at the end of the month. 

In describing her practice, King told the commission that virtually all of her practice is involved in representing private and public employers in labor and employment litigation and related civil and commercial matters. She also said she has counseled employers on related issues. 

Among the issue she said she has handled are discrimination, harassment, retaliation, drug testing, accommodating people with disabilities and medical marijuana in the workplace.  

King said she also has been involved in wage-and-hour law disputes and handling restrictive covenants like precluding workers from going into competition with the firm that had employed them. 

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