PHOENIX—Governor Doug Ducey today announced the appointments of Melissa Iyer Julian, Tracey Westerhausen, and Joseph Kiefer to the Maricopa County Superior Court. These appointments are to fill vacancies due to the retirements of Judges Hugh E. Hegyi and David M. Talamante, and the appointment of Judge Susan M. Brnovich to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.
Melissa Iyer Julian is a partner at Burch & Cracchiolo, P.A, where she primarily practices in the area of complex commercial litigation including at the appellate level. She is experienced in a wide variety of practice areas including real estate, personal injury, insurance defense, probate, employment, and family law – both as a plaintiff and defense attorney. Melissa has also done a considerable amount of work representing governmental entities. Additionally, she has been serving as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court since 2015.
Melissa serves the community by providing pro bono legal services to various individuals and organizations, including through the Arizona Domestic Violence Assistance Program and the State Bar Appellate Section. She also volunteers for the TGen Ambassador Program and Camelback High School Toastmasters.
“Melissa’s wide range of expertise will bring a unique and important insight to the courtroom,” said Governor Ducey. “I am pleased to appoint Melissa to the Maricopa County Superior Court.”
Melissa is a first generation American whose mother was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico and father was born in Madras, India. She graduated from Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She then received her law degree cum laude from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
Tracey Westerhausen practices criminal and juvenile law at Debus, Kazan & Westerhausen. She represents clients at both the trial and appellate court levels, as well as in post-conviction relief proceedings. Tracey also provides representation to victims of crimes to ensure that their rights are upheld in criminal proceedings. In addition to criminal and juvenile law, Tracey’s practice consists of personal injury, civil forfeiture, and administrative law matters. Prior to entering private practice, Tracey clerked for Judge Sarah D. Grant of the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.
Tracey served on two workgroups committed to helping victims of sexual abuse. These workgroups were comprised of judges, mental health care providers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for Liberty Wildlife, a non-profit foundation devoted to wildlife education and caring for injured wildlife.
“Tracey’s extensive experience in the courtroom will make her a valuable addition to the bench,” said Governor Ducey. “I am honored to appoint Tracey to the Maricopa County Superior Court.”
Tracey graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She then went on to earn her law degree from the Arizona State University College of Law.
Joseph Kiefer is a Deputy Maricopa County Attorney, as well as a military trial and appellate judge. As a military judge, he presided in over 70 cases and authored more than 25 appellate opinions. Prior to joining Maricopa County, Joe was a partner at Snell & Wilmer and an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson where he focused on civil matters. He also practiced in criminal, environmental, probate, and family law. Throughout his career, Joe has appeared in over 200 cases in federal and state courts, more than 40 of which went to a jury, and has tried more than 80 cases in military courts.
Joe served his country on active duty in the U.S. Air Force for 14 years and continues to serve as an Air Force Reserve Colonel with over 28 years of total military service. Joe was instrumental in the initial organization and development of the Veterans Court in Arizona, which has become an annual service event. He also works with the Arizona Youth Soccer Association Olympic Development Program, which develops players for U.S. National Teams.
“Joe’s courtroom experience and commitment to serve will make him an excellent addition to the bench,” said Governor Ducey. “I am delighted to appoint Joe to the Maricopa County Superior Court.”
Joe graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and in Political Science. Joe then went on to earn his MBA from Chaminade University and his law degree from William & Mary.