Donn Kessler


Prior to being appointed to the bench by Governor Janet Napolitano in 2003, Judge Kessler was a Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawaii (1975-1977) and an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia (1978-79). He was an appellate attorney and litigator at Christian Barton Epps Brent & Chappell in Richmond, Virginia (1979-1982), Jennings Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix (1982-1990), and Ulrich, Kessler & Anger in Phoenix (1991-2000). Judge Kessler became a staff attorney at the Arizona Supreme Court in 2000 and joined Jones Skelton & Hochuli in Phoenix in 2002.


First chair of the State Bar Appellate Practice Section, chair of the State Bar Antitrust Section, President of the Arizona Association of Healthcare Lawyers, and member of the State Bar Civil Practice and Procedure Committee. Judge Kessler also served for four years as a judge pro tempore for Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals. While he was in private practice, the Arizona Supreme Court appointed Judge Kessler to chair the Rules Working Group of the Appellate Case Processing Implementation Task Force, which took the lead in proposing amendments to most of the rules governing civil and criminal appeals in Arizona. He also served as co-chair of the Appellate Mediation Committee for Division One of the Court of Appeals. That committee drafted the rules for the Court of Appeals= appellate mediation program. Judge Kessler has also acted as a mentor for elementary school children through the Oasis Program.

Judge Kessler is the co-author of Arizona Healthcare Professional Liability Handbook (1992 and 1994 Supp.). He is also the co-author of Federal Appellate Practice: Ninth Circuit Second Edition (West Group 1999 and 2000 Supp.)

Judge Kessler has attended retreats held by the Shambhala Group in Phoenix and the Mindful Lawyer Conference in Berkeley as well as a meditation retreat for lawyers held at Spirit Rock in 2011.  He has studied Buddhism for over ten years and has been regularly meditating on his own and with Phoenix groups for the same period.  

As part of his mindfulness practices, Judge Kessler has presented mindfulness and meditation programs at the Mindful Lawyer Conference, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 State Bar Conventions, for the Arizona appellate courts, for two Inns of Court and at a recent seminar held at the Phoenix School of Law on Lawyers as Peacemakers.

Assistant: KC Gardiner-Johnson

B.A., University of Virginia (with High Distinction), 1972

J.D., Yale Law School, 1975