Ducey appoints ex-aide to fill state Supreme Court vacancy

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday announced he is filling an Arizona Supreme Court vacancy by appointing Kathryn Hackett King, a Phoenix lawyer who previously worked on his staff.

King, a fellow Republican whom Ducey appointed to the state Board of Regents in 2020, was Ducey’s deputy general counsel from 2015 to 2017.

“She’s an incredible attorney. She’s a very keen intellect. She has got a tireless work ethic, and she is just a joy to work with,” Ducey said at a ceremony in his office.

King practices civil law, focusing on representing employers in employment and related matters, and is currently a partner in the firm of BurnsBarton PLC. She previously worked at Snell & Wilmer LLP, a large Phoenix-based firm.

She is a native Arizonan whose father was a corporate and securities attorney. She has lived in the state her whole life, except for four years at North Carolina’s Duke University, where she earned a degree in political science in 2003. She then attended law school at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, graduating in 2006.

Her application to the state judicial appointment commission that sent her name to the governor notes that she has worked in all three branches of government — as a legal fellow to former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, law clerk for former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan, and lawyer in Ducey’s office.

She noted in her letter of interest that her first interactions with the courts were not as a lawyer but as a high school student who had witnessed her friend killed by an impaired driver. She wrote a letter to the sentencing judge and, as a crime victim, gave an impact statement during the defendant’s sentencing.

“These were emotionally-challenging experiences for me, but ultimately gave me insight, even from a very limited point of view, into the role and impact the judicial branch has on the lives of citizens each and every day,” she wrote.

Ducey’s appointment of King fills a vacancy created by the retirement earlier this year of now-former Justice Andrew Gould, whom Ducey appointed to the state high court in 2016. Gould is now running as a Republican for state attorney general.

King was among seven nominees selected by a state court screening panel. She is married and the mother to a son and daughter.

Another former lawyer in Ducey’s office, Michael Liburti, also is now a judge after former President Donald Trump appointed him to the U.S. District Court in Arizona.