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City Magistrate Vanessa Cartwright hands off a document during court proceedings in June 2019. Cartwright will soon move from City Court to Santa Cruz County Superior Court.

City of Nogales Magistrate Vanessa Cartwright has been selected to serve as the next judge pro tempore at Santa Cruz County Superior Court.

The selection by Presiding Judge Thomas Fink was announced on Monday.

“Her experience, legal acumen and people skills will make her a tremendous asset to our court,” Fink said in a news release. “She has served the people of Santa Cruz County well throughout her legal career, and I am confident that she will continue to do so.”

Cartwright will replace Judge Pro Tempore Denneen L. Peterson, who is set to retire on Nov. 10. The date of Cartwright’s swearing in has not yet been set, but Fink said it will likely happen at the beginning of January.

Cartwright emerged from an initial pool of 11 applicants. A nominating committee reviewed the applications and chose five people, including Cartwright, to be interviewed on Oct. 15. Members of the public were also invited to weigh in on the candidates.

Cartwright has served as magistrate at Nogales Municipal Court since April 2019. She previously worked as deputy Santa Cruz County attorney from November 2009 through April 2019, handling felony cases involving victims and prosecuting felony drug cases. She also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney from October 2016 through February 2018 while working for the County Attorney’s Office.

She began her career at the City of Tucson Public Defender’s Office in December 2007. Her juris doctor degree is from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and she has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and journalism from the UA as well.

The judge pro tempore is responsible for performing all essential functions of a Superior Court judge, though the position to be filled by Cartwright will emphasize domestic and family law, the court announced previously.

Pro tempore judges must be reappointed at regular intervals, unlike the county’s other two Superior Court judges, who are elected to four-year terms. Each year, the presiding judge at Santa Cruz County Superior Court asks the Arizona Supreme Court to authorize a judge pro tem, and the County Board of Supervisors then approves the request.

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