Biography: Wyatt James Palmer
Wyatt Palmer was born in Graham County to a long line of farming families. Growing up on a farm developed his perpetual attitude of enjoying long hard days.
In January 1975, Mr. Palmer became a Police officer for the City of Safford and a year later joined the Thatcher Police Dept. at the request of Chief Jim Mullenaux. During this time, between shifts, he attended EAC and later transferred to ASU, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. After graduation he returned to police service in Graham County. Altogether, he served in law enforcement from Jan. 1975 through May 1985.
After his police service, Mr. Palmer formed and served as president or CEO of 4 Arizona corporations and three sole-proprietorships, was a licensed private investigator and a certified court process server for 15 years.
In 2001 Mr. Palmer entered law school in Michigan, completing the 3-year law program in 20 months. Thereafter he returned to the Gila Valley where he clerked for Judge Holt in Graham County Superior Court for 4 months. After passing the Arizona Bar and becoming a licensed attorney, Attorney Palmer defended indigent clients accused of crimes and transitioned into private practice taking cases in Family Law, Property, Estate Planning, Business, Contracts, and Injury. During this time, he acquired contracts with the cities of Clifton, Pima, Thatcher, Safford, and Willcox as their Criminal Prosecutor. He is a member of, and in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona and is licensed to practice law in the state of Arizona and before the Arizona Supreme Court.
In the election of November 2010, Mr. Palmer was elected as Justice of the Peace and became Judge Palmer on January 1, 2011. Judge Palmer was re-elected for a second term, (Jan. 2015 – 2018), re-elected for a third term (2019 – 2022) and then to a fourth term (2023 – 2026).
In 2011 Judge Palmer was elected by other judges to serve on the Arizona Justice of the Peace Association’s Board of Directors. The purpose of the association is to raise the standards and skills of all judges. He has been re-elected to that board each year since.
Also in 2011, he was elected to be Graham County’s representative to Arizona Association of Counties advisory board, which monitors legislation that may affect Graham County, its employees and/or citizens, and then re-elected to that position in 2013, stepping down at the end of that term.
In 2014 Judge Palmer was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court to serve a three-year term on the Supreme Court’s, Committee on “Domestic Violence & the Courts,” and then re-appointed in 2017 to a second term, stepping down in 2020.
In addition to his professional labors, Judge Palmer works hard to serve the community, which is exemplified by his extensive volunteer time;
- Thatcher Fire department (15 years),
- Graham County Search and Rescue (5 years),
- Civil Air Patrol search & rescue pilot for lost hikers and airplanes across Arizona, with mountain-qualified ratings (10 years). He also flew occasional sorties for Customs, DEA, and Border Patrol.
- Less dramatic but requiring far more time is his history of volunteering and working with the Boy Scouts, 4-H groups, little league and various church groups.
The work supervised by a Justice of the Peace
Currently, Graham County has combined all Justice Courts into a single precinct, meaning that every case filed in Graham County is administered by the one Justice of the Peace.
In Arizona, a Justice of the Peace administers the law and hears cases in eight distinctively different bodies of law – each with their own set of statutes enacted by the legislature and each utilizing its own set of court rules of procedure as proscribed by the State Supreme Court.
On any given day the litigants in Justice Court could be seeking protection in any type of case. This requires the judge to have a working knowledge of all types of law for which justice court has jurisdiction and the corresponding rules-of-procedure. Specifically, the Justice Court jurisdiction is to hear cases in;
- Civil Traffic
- Criminal Traffic
- Misdemeanor Criminal charges
- Felony Criminal charges (through the Preliminary Hearing stage)
- Civil cases (contracts / injuries / collections / etc.), up to $10,000.
- Small claims, (less formal civil cases) up to $3,500.
- Protective Orders