Jan 262011

By Tammy Gray-Searles —

After 18 years on the bench and more than 15 years in the county attorney’s office, Judge Tom Wing traded in his gavel for time with his grandchildren when he retired on Dec. 31.

“I have a number of children and grandchildren, and I plan on spending more time with them,” Wing said. “I will be able to go to their activities that I haven’t been able to get to in the past.”

Wing noted that he truly plans to stay retired, and has agreed to be called back as a judge only on a short-term, temporary basis, such as if a sitting judge is ill or on vacation.

“I’m really happy that I retired at this particular time,” he commented. “I think it’s good that a person my age step down and let someone else have the opportunity to take on this responsibility.”

Although he served in the position for nearly two decades, Wing pointed out that he never set out to be a judge. He always wanted to be an attorney.

“In high school I knew I wanted to go to college and I started thinking about it (becoming an attorney),” he said. “I set it as a goal from planning while I was in high school. It was a long-term plan. I tell my kids if you want to do something you have to look forward to it and work toward it. But I never thought I’d be a judge.”

Wing explained that he had already been an attorney for 20 years, more than 15 of which were in the Navajo County Attorney’s Office, when Judge Jay Natoli decided not to run for re-election. He felt as though he had the experience and knowledge, and would like a chance to serve as judge, so sought the position.

During his time with the county, Wing had the opportunity to make contributions and changes that still impact the court today. Wing noted that one of his proudest, and most challenging, accomplishments was working on a committee that helped establish victims’ rights in Arizona. Through the committee’s work, the state legislature eventually enacted laws designed to protect victims of crime.

“They enacted victims’ rights in criminal cases which were comparable to the rights of a criminal defendant in a case,” he explained. “It was one of the most satisfying things I’ve done.”

Wing noted that for the last several years he has served on a committee that reviews family law and makes recommendations for changes. Family law includes divorce, parenting and custody issues.

“It’s been a truly rewarding experience to work on legislation that protects children and families,” he said.

According to Wing, although difficult, his most satisfying work on the bench was handling juvenile and Child Protective Services cases.

“I find it to have been an opportunity to try to help youth through difficult times in their life, and protect children who have been either abused or neglected. It was my most rewarding work on the bench,” he said.