Wyatt Palmer

Judge Palmer

Biography: Wyatt James Palmer
Wyatt Palmer was born in Graham County to a long line of farming families. Growing up on a farm developed an attitude of working hard and working long days. He attended Thatcher High School, graduated in 1971, spent two years in Illinois, and then married his high school sweetheart in December 1973. Their three children are married and have provided them with 13 grandchildren. Judge and Ms. Palmer expect to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in December 2023.

Early Experience

In January 1975, Mr. Palmer became a Police officer for the City of Safford, and a year later was lured to Thatcher Police by Chief Jim Mullenaux. During this time he also attending EAC, later transferring to ASU - earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. After graduation he returned to police service in Graham County. Altogether, he was a police officer from Jan. 1975 through May 1985.

During his years of police service, Mr. Palmer started an electronic security company and worked as installer and President/CEO in the organization until 2004 (after law school). Building on his enjoyment of hard work, developing a new company also developed his interest in Business and Contracts, which later proved useful as a business attorney with practical experience.

Mr. Palmer has formed and served as president or CEO of 4 Arizona corporations and three sole-proprietorships, was a licensed private investigator, a certified court process server, a member of the Thatcher Fire department (15 years), an active member of Graham County Search and Rescue (5 years), and was a mountain-qualified search & rescue pilot for the Civil Air Patrol (10 years) where he also flew occasional sorties for Customs, DEA, and Border Patrol along with the standard Air Force searches for lost hikers and airplanes across Arizona.

Law Background

In 2001 Mr. Palmer entered law school in Michigan. Exemplifying his attitude of hard work and long hours, he completing the 3-year law school program in 20 months and returned to the Gila Valley where he clerked for Judge Holt in the Graham County Superior Court for 4 months with a Juris Doctorate degree. After passing the Arizona Bar and becoming a licensed attorney, Mr. Palmer defended indigent clients accused of crimes, and transitioned into private practice taking cases in Family Law, Property, Estate Planning, Business/Contracts, and acquired contracts with the cities of Clifton, Pima, Thatcher, Safford, and Willcox as their Criminal Prosecutor. As an attorney, Mr. Palmer is a member of, and in good standing with the Arizona State Bar and is licensed to practice law in the state of Arizona and before the Arizona Supreme Court.

In November of 2010, Attorney Palmer was elected as Justice of the Peace in Graham County and became Judge Palmer on January 1, 2011. Judge Palmer was re-elected for a second term, serving from Jan. 2015 – 2018, and re-elected for a third term, which is dated from 2019 - 2022.

While serving as Justice of the Peace, Judge Palmer has served in additional service positions. In 2011 he was elected by other judges to serve on the Arizona Justice of the Peace Association’s Board of Directors and 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 he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court to serve on the Supreme Court’s Committee on “Domestic Violence & the Courts,” and then re-appointed to that committed again in 2017.

Justice Court jurisdiction in Graham County

Graham County has two Justice Courts. 20th Ave in Safford (between Wal-Mart and Home Depot) is the legal line between the two courts. The Safford Justice Court lying to the East, and the Pima Justice Court going West through Thatcher, Central, Pima, Fort Thomas and Bylas. (Map of Justice Court districts).

In Arizona, Justice Courts administers the law and hears cases in eight areas of law – each with their own set of court rules and procedures proscribed by the State Supreme Court;
  • Civil Traffic
  • Criminal Traffic
  • Misdemeanor Criminal charges
  • Felonies 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.
  • Evictions
  • Protective Orders

Application of previous Experience and training;

Based on his experience as a police officer, Judge Palmer knows what the police can and can’t do in traffic and criminal cases and how investigations should proceed. As an attorney, Judge Palmer gained valuable experience in all eight areas of Justice Court jurisdiction, both the criminal type of cases and the civil areas of practice.

From his legal training and experiences, Judge Palmer knows;
  •  Each case and its ruling should strictly comply with legislative enactments (Statutes) and Appeal Court decisions (case law).
  • Each party has a right to present their best legal argument (with or without an attorney) and that the argument should be presented to a judge that knows and understands legal arguments and appeal court decisions.
  • Having both criminal and civil experience and having litigation experience in court, he is in a unique position to;
  1. Understand the arguments presented,
  2. Protect the rights of all who come into court,
  3. To make findings consistent with established law, and
  4. Make Justice Court #2, a fair and open court for all litigants.


Return to Staff Directory