The Sherry Geisler Award
Justice of the Peace of the Year
Each year a Justice of the Peace is recognized for his or her outstanding service to the Judiciary.
In 2013 the Award name was changed to the Sherry Geisler Award in honor of the late Honorable Sherry Geisler of Round Valley Justice Court.
Judge Geisler began her career as a clerk in 1982 she served as a pro-tem and began her judicial career in 1993. When the association split from the partnership with the constables the Az Justice of the Peace Association was born. Judge Geisler was the first association president in 1996. Judge Geisler served on numerous committees for the Arizona Supreme Court including the Judicial ethics commission she served as a mentor judge for many years; she was a true example of the qualities expected for the Justice of the Peace of the year award.
2022 JP of the Year - Hon. Donald Watts, Manistee Justice Court - Maricopa County
Judge Watts received the honor at this year’s conference of JPs and Magistrates in Prescott.
The award recognizes “an individual member of the Arizona Justice of the Peace Association who has tirelessly and selflessly supported the mission of the association; who has demonstrated continuous contributions to the Arizona judicial process; and who makes significant efforts to educate the public on the judicial system".
“This is my 34th year in the criminal justice system and to me this is like the ultimate,” Watts said. “To be selected is just mind-blowing to me, that I’ve accomplished that much, and to be recognized by my peers.”
Judge Dorothy Little presented the award. She is the Presiding JP for Gila County and immediate past president of the Arizona Justice of the Peace Association. In her announcement, she quoted from letters of recognition which called Watts a “citizens’ servant with the mind of a patriot and the heart of a surgeon.”
She recounted his work setting up Veterans Treatment Court, bringing a home detention program to the justice courts, induction into the Veterans’ Hall of Fame, and his participation and leadership on various Supreme Court committees.
“I’m unbelievably proud of this,” Watts said. “I’ve received numerous awards and my top two are Veterans Hall of Fame and now judge of the year.”
Judge Watts also gave thanks to countless people throughout his career who have helped him achieve this success.
“I’ve had some incredible mentors in this whole process. I could not have made it without all of them. Mentors are a big part of my success… getting me where I am. And I’ve developed a lot of lifelong friendships that even when I’m 80 years old we’ll still be friends.”