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7/31/2013 2:27:00 PM
Joe Butner sworn-in as judge of Superior Court
Presiding Judge Dave Mackey laughs after Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis, right, cracked a few jokes about Joseph C. Butner, left, while giving a speech during Butnerís Investiture, Friday afternoon at the Yavapai County courthouse in Prescott. Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Presiding Judge Dave Mackey laughs after Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis, right, cracked a few jokes about Joseph C. Butner, left, while giving a speech during Butnerís Investiture, Friday afternoon at the Yavapai County courthouse in Prescott. Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier

Scott Orr
The Daily Courier


PRESCOTT - In a freewheeling ceremony that was equal parts celebrity roast and pomp and circumstance, Judge Joseph C. Butner III was sworn-in and received his Superior Court judge's robe in an investiture ceremony Friday.

Butner, who has held the job since April, was chosen as Judge Pro Tem, filling a vacancy created when Judge Ethan Wolfinger left the office in December 2012.

The invitation to the investiture indicated that Western attire was appropriate, and as he opened the ceremony, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court David L. Mackey said he was "suspending the rules about wearing cowboy hats in the courtroom," in honor of Butner's cowboy lifestyle.

"Please put them on," he said with a chuckle.

In his introductory remarks, Mackey pointed out that Butner had applied for the position Wolfinger held, and when he did not get it, he was still willing to serve part-time as Judge Pro Tem to fill in some gaps.

"True to his character, he said, 'What can I do to help?'" Mackey recalled.

Butner has been the Chief Judge for the Yavapai-Apache Tribal Court, the Verde Valley Justice of the Peace, and was a Deputy Yavapai County Attorney from 1992 to 1999 and again from 2003 to 2011.

He was a key figure in the prosecution of Steven DeMocker's first trial on murder charges in 2010.

Butner is on the Board of Directors of Verde Valley Senior Citizens' Association as well as the Board of Directors of the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo, and is a member of the Camp Verde Cavalry.

"If you haven't figured it out by now, Judge Butner is a cowboy. In honor of that, a number of our fellow judges have worn cowboy boots today," Mackey said, to laughter and applause from the audience.

"My message ... to all of you is, 'Cowboy up,'" he continued, listing qualities such as a willingness to work hard, kindness, and a love of people, that he said Butner shares with cowboys.

The keynote speech was given by chairman of the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chip Davis, who made good-natured jokes at Butner's expense.

"He's going to get robed ... but most of the memories I have, have something to do with Joe, to some degree, disrobing," he cracked, to Butner's obvious glee.

Davis compared Butner to a "cantankerous" bronco.

"Nobody wanted to pick the bronco - my buddy, Joe - but my buddy, Dave (Mackey) did," he quipped. "He'll work the kinks out of (Butner). I wish you godspeed on that chore."

Davis also said Butner "can tell a fine animal when he sees it. If you ever go to a parade, you just stand there, and when Judge Butner goes by, people will go, "Look at that horse's (behind)."

Mackey looked over at Butner and said, "You wanted him," again to laugher.

After the roasting, Butner was sworn in and his wife helped him into his black judge's robe for the "first" official time.

Butner serves in the Verde Valley Judicial District.


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