For more than half a century, Jerry Fenton has been practicing law – doing defense work, in private practice and most recently as a prosecutor in MCAO’s Special Prosecution Division, Sex Crimes West Bureau. Jerry’s legal career has run the gambit from arguing homicide and aggravated assault cases in court to charging burglaries and sexual assault cases, and even negotiating lengthy and detailed corporate development leases over his 50 years. His current assignment with the MCAO is an important one, ensuring that sex offenders who fail to register are held accountable.
Jerry came to MCAO in June of 2011, but he already had a full and varied career. Admitted to the Michigan (his home state) Bar in 1970, he practiced there for several years. Jerry was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986. A special memory he recounts is one particular trip to Washington, D.C. when, as a young attorney he was given a tour of the White House. As President, Ronald Reagan disembarked from a helicopter on the White House lawn – Jerry, standing near the rose garden with others, was able to see the 40th President of the United States up close and personal.
“I work with the best people and I love what I do here at the County Attorney’s Office,” said Jerry. “Five decades have flown by and I still enjoy it as much today as I did when I started.” Jerry helps train new attorney interns at the MCAO and is always eager to impart some of his knowledge, including the importance of ethics and punctuality, and that winning cases shouldn’t be the thing that drives you.
In fact, ethics is his guiding principle. He tells young interns and prosecutors, “I’m not here to teach you the law, that’s what you learned in school. I’m here to tell you that you must be ethical 100% of the time. No case is worth compromising this principle. Be prepared for court, be respectful of the process and always be on time.”
Jerry has an uncanny memory for dates and can recall the day, date, month and year of nearly every important milestone in the last 50 years. He’s been married to his same lovely bride for 43 of those 50 years. While his work focuses on some serious offenses, Jerry says, he doesn’t always like to be so serious. “You have to have a sense of humor about your job and it’s important to make people laugh and give them a little chuckle every day.”
Deputy Criminal Chief Rachel Mitchell hired Jerry and continues to appreciate his drive and excitement for the job. “Jerry is one-of-a-kind. He inspires, motivates and raises our spirits daily. We are proud to help Jerry celebrate 50 years.”
Congratulations Jerry! The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and this community are lucky to have you.