Details Announced For Independent Corrections Investigation

News Release

April 30, 2019

PHOENIX — Following reports of cell lock tampering at Lewis Prison, Governor Doug Ducey today announced that former Arizona Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Berch and Ruth McGregor have been hired to conduct an independent, third-party investigation into matters of security at the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). As part of the investigation, Justices Berch and McGregor will provide an assessment of problems related to cell locks at Lewis Prison, including the cause of tampered locks and action taken by ADC to address the situation, and will make recommendations regarding any changes in policy, procedure or operations they deem appropriate.

“There’s no excuse for any situation that compromises public safety at our prisons,” said Governor Ducey. “We need the facts and we need to make sure a situation like this never happens again. Justices Berch and McGregor are both well-respected for their legal expertise and prolific records of public service. They bring decades of experience with our justice system and can provide an independent, non-partisan investigation. We are grateful for their willingness to serve Arizonans again.”

In addition to launching an independent investigation, the Governor’s Office yesterday deployed a team of law enforcement and management leaders including professionals from the Departments of Public Safety, Homeland Security and Administration and the State Fire Marshal to ensure immediate action is being taken by the Department of Corrections to protect the safety of officers and inmates. 

About Justice Rebecca White Berch (Ret.)

Justice Rebecca White Berch (Ret.), a Republican, served on the Arizona Supreme Court from April 2002 until September 2015, serving as Chief Justice from 2009 to 2014 and Vice Chief Justice in 2005 to 2009. Berch was appointed by Governor Jane Hull from the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division I, where she presided from 1998 until 2002.  

Justice Berch served as First Assistant Arizona Attorney General from 1996 to 1998, Special Counsel to the Arizona Attorney General from 1995 to 1996 and Solicitor General for the State of Arizona from 1991 to 1994. She served on the faculty at ASU College of Law for ten years and published a law school textbook.

About Justice Ruth McGregor (Ret.)

Justice Ruth McGregor (Ret.), a Democrat, served on the Arizona Supreme Court from February 1998 until June 30, 2009, where she was the Court's Chief Justice from June 2005 until her retirement. 

Governor Jane Hull appointed Justice McGregor from the Arizona Court of Appeals, where she served from 1989 until 1998 including as Chief Justice from 1995 to 1997. 

Before her appointment to the bench, Justice McGregor engaged in the private practice of law as a member of the Fennemore Craig law firm in Phoenix, Arizona. She served as a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor during Justice O'Connor's first term on the United States Supreme Court.