PHOENIX — St. Johns High School graduate James B. Morse Jr. was named Friday to the Arizona Court of Appeals Division One by Gov. Doug Ducey.
Morse is currently an assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoneix and has substantial experience in federal criminal investigations and prosecutions. Morse is currently the section chief of the Southwest Border Crimes Section. He has also worked in the office’s Organized Crime and Drug Prosecutions Unit.
Morse, a native of Mt. Lemmon near Tucson, graduated from St. Johns High School in 1987. He subsequently earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (1991, magna cum laude) from Arizona State University. He also graduated in 1995 from the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Va.
“Jim has demonstrated a commitment to pursuing justice and upholding the rule of law,” Ducey said. “I am pleased to appoint Jim to the Arizona Court of Appeals.”
Morse began his legal career in private practice at Baker & Botts in Dallas, Texas. After returning to Phoenix in 1999, he joined Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. While in private practice, Jim practiced in the area of employee benefits, federal income and excise tax, employment and executive compensation law. He drafted pension, stock option, deferred compensation and welfare benefit plans for employers.
He served as a law clerk for Judge James Teilborg of the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, in 2003. He began his career in law enforcement in 2004 at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted special crimes, probation violations and preliminary hearings and was later promoted to Assistant Bureau Chief for the Drug Enforcement Bureau.
Morse’s application for nomination to judicial office states his “late mother was a newspaper reporter who covered school board, board of supervisors and city council meetings,” while his father is a retired sheriff’s deputy from Pima and Apache counties.
“I have always followed the maxim that a prosecutor’s job is not to win at all cost, but to see that justice is done,” Morse wrote in his application. “As a civil lawyer and a prosecutor, and as a father, I have seen firsthand how important the rule of law is to all citizens. Both in and away from the courtroom, the fair and just administration and interpretation of the law provides the mechanism by which society and individuals can order their affairs with predictability, be held to account impartially, and plan capably for the future.
“I will work hard to support and defend these ideals. I take pride in my reputation for fairness and honesty”
Also appointed with Morse was Jennifer Perkins, an assistant solicitor general in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Both were selected to fill the vacancies created by the retirement of judges Donn Kessler and Patricia K. Norris.
All told, there were nine candidates vying for the two open seats on the bench.