PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey today announced the appointments of Jillian Francis, Charlene Jackson, James Knapp and Sunita Krishna to Maricopa County Superior Court. These appointments are to fill vacancies created by the resignation of Justice James Smith and the retirements of Justices Margaret Mahoney, David Cunanan and Sally Duncan.
Jillian Francis is an Assistant Attorney General in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, where she has held various positions since 2014. She currently works in the Office of the Solicitor General on election matters and other high-profile litigation. She has represented the State of Arizona in special actions before the Arizona Court of Appeals and has written Attorney General opinions. She has written amicus briefs for the Arizona Attorney General on issues of statewide significance such as constitutional law, victims’ rights, and the interpretation of Arizona’s drug laws. arizona.
The bulk of Jillian’s work has been with the Criminal Appeals Section, representing the State of Arizona in non-capital felony appeals ranging from drug offenses to first degree murder and felonies. dangerous to children. Jillian is also responsible for representing the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Rehabilitation in federal habeas proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jillian has also worked to protect Arizona children from abuse and neglect by representing the Department of Child Safety in protective services cases.
“Jillian’s career has been one of selfless service. It is an honor for me to appoint her to the Superior Court of Maricopa County,” Governor Ducey said.
Jillian holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law.
Charlene D. Jackson is a solo practitioner through her firm, The Jackson Law Firm, where her practice focuses on working with tribes and tribal organizations. She has represented tribes and tribal organizations in a multitude of matters including gaming, human resources and labor law, contract review, policy development and corporate reorganization. Charlene has been admitted to practice law in Arizona, in the Federal District Court of Arizona, in the Ak-Chin Indian Community and in the Tohono O’odham Nation.
In addition to practicing law, Charlene has previously held several positions as a judge. In 2000, Charlene received her first judicial appointment, becoming a Tribal Court Judge for the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Charlene has been assigned to a juvenile case. She believes the experience has been hugely impactful in helping to encourage young people to steer their lives in a positive direction. Additionally, she has served as an associate judge for the City of Paradise Valley since 2009, where she handled civil traffic and city code violations, including initial appearances, arraignments, pretrials and protection order hearings. She has also served as Acting Judge of the City of Gilbert, Judge of the Wilton Rancheria Court of Appeals, Acting Judge of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Court, Judge of the Court of Appeals of the Indian Tribes Court of Colorado River and Chief Magistrate of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. Charlene was a faculty member of the National Tribal Judicial Center at the National Judicial College. She has also served as a consultant for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute.
“Both as a solo practitioner and as a judge, Charlene has worked tirelessly to help improve her community. It is clear that she will be a great addition to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” Governor Ducey said.
Charlene earned her associate degree from Dine College. She later earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her JD from the University of Arizona.
James “Jim” Knapp is currently an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, where he has served since 2006. Jim served as Chief of the Financial Crimes Section from August 2019 to February 2022, where he oversaw a team of 10 responsible for overseeing the federal government. criminal investigations and prosecutions relating to fraud, money laundering, tax offenses and cybercrime. Previously, he served as Chief of the General Crimes Section for more than four years, overseeing assistant US attorneys and support staff, prosecuting firearms, drug trafficking and immigration crimes. Jim also served as Deputy Chief of Border Crimes from August 2014 to January 2015.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jim was an attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in San Francisco, where he handled deportation proceedings before immigration judges. He has also argued administrative remedies and assisted in civil immigration matters. In his time with ICE, Jim helped draft legislation and worked on federal rulemaking procedures.
Jim has drawn on his wealth of experience to train colleagues and prosecutors across the country and around the world. He helped train Federal Bureau of Investigation computer forensics examiners and trained the US Marshals Service in electronic surveillance laws. He has also taught advocacy skills to prosecutors in Kingston, Jamaica, developed an introduction to cybercrime for judges in Tbilisi, Georgia, and was an advocacy instructor for prosecutors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Jim’s work has had a positive impact in his community and indeed the world, and I’m sure he will have the same impact on the Maricopa County Superior Court,” Governor Ducey said.
Jim earned his Bachelor of Philosophy and JD degree from Arizona State University.
Sunita Krishna is currently Assistant Attorney General in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. His cases involve healthcare professionals who have been involved in a wide range of misconduct, including sexual assault, theft, diversion of narcotics from healthcare facilities, and substandard care practices. She has also handled special actions filed in superior court, as well as appeals to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
In addition to the cases that Sunita pursues on behalf of several health boards, she provides legal advice to these boards and other public agencies on matters of statutory interpretation, application of laws, and due process requirements. during administrative hearings. She helps state agencies respond to subpoenas and to practice motions in discovery litigation.
Prior to her position in the Attorney General’s Office, Sunita served as in-house counsel at Century Surety Company. She has reviewed hundreds of incoming lawsuits for coverage involving commercial general liability policies in the areas of premises liability, assault and battery, product liability, motor vehicle accident and catastrophic injuries. In addition, she has also worked with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC, as associate counsel in the areas of medical malpractice, construction defects and ethics.
“Sunita has extensive experience, from civil litigation to administrative law. All of this experience makes her a great addition to the Maricopa County Superior Court,” Governor Ducey said.
Sunita earned both her bachelor’s degree in political science and her JD from the University of Arizona. She also earned a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University.