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John Pelander

Honorable Judge


Hon. John Pelander was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court by Governor Brewer in July 2009 after 14 years with Division Two of the Court of Appeals, where he served as that court’s chief judge from July 2004 through June 2009. In July 2014, he became Vice Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and served in that role until January 2018. Justice Pelander retired from the bench March 1, 2019. Thereafter, pursuant to Chief Justice administrative orders, he has continued to periodically sit with the Court on a call-back, active duty status.

Justice Pelander received his bachelor of arts degree from Wittenberg University (1973, cum laude), a J.D. degree from the University of Arizona (1976, with high distinction and Order of the Coif), and his Master of Laws in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia in 1998. Justice Pelander is a former shareholder with Slutes, Sakrison, Grant & Pelander, P.C., where his practice from 1977 to 1995 focused on civil matters, including insurance defense, employment law, commercial litigation, and appeals.

Before beginning his law practice, he served as Executive Editor of the Arizona Law Review and as a law clerk to the Hon. Richard H. Chambers of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1976-77. Before joining the bench, Justice Pelander was a certified specialist in the field of personal injury and wrongful death. He was an associate with the American Board of Trial Advocates, has taught at numerous state and county bar association programs, and has served as a faculty member of the Arizona College of Trial Advocacy. Justice Pelander also has served on the Arizona Commission for Judicial Performance Review, the Arizona Judicial Council, as chair of Arizona’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, and as an officer of the national Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal. In 2015, Justice Pelander was elected to membership in the American Law Institute. Before his appointment to the Supreme Court, he served by designation on that court for 11 years in the ongoing, comprehensive general stream adjudication. Justice Pelander and his wife Mary have two adult sons.