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Knauer takes to bench as new Pima County court commissioner

The top two Pima County judges have hired Nicholas Knauer, an assistant state attorney general, to serve as a Superior Court commissioner.

Commissioners serve as judges in a variety of cases that largely deal with family issues, from divorce to probate.

Pima County Presiding Judge Jeffrey T. Bergin and Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Peter W. Hochuli announced the appointment after a panel made its recommendation, following a search that provided the public the chance to weigh in on finalists.

He will fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of commissioner Alyce Pennington. There are about 18 commissioners deciding cases in Pima County.

Knauer has been a supervisor in the Arizona Attorney General's Tucson office, where he works in the Protective Services Section representing Arizona’s Department of Child Safety. 

His practice has included juvenile law, involving adoption, mental health, family law, probate, and guardianship cases. He is also the office’s primary liaison with Pima County Juvenile Court’s Dependency Alternative Program, which works to set up alternatives outside of dependency hearings when parents could potentially face losing custody of their children.

Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Knauer was with the Adult Dependency Unit of the Pima County Public Defender’s Office as a deputy public defender. He worked as head appellate attorney, and provided legal assistance for parents and families entangled in dependency proceedings.

Knauer also spent three years as a staff attorney with the Pima County Office of Children’s Counsel, and, in 2017 and 2018, served as a Pima County Superior Court judge pro tempore. 

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He also volunteers his time as a judge for the University of Arizona’s moot court and mock trial competitions.

A recent appointee to the Board of Directors of Arizona’s Asian American Bar Organization, Knauer is also a member of the Pima County Bar Association, the Arizona Minority Bar Association, and a trainer for the State Bar of Arizona.

Knauer graduated summa cum laude from the University of Arizona with his B.A. in Political Science and minor in Spanish, and earned his law degree in 2011 from the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the Dependency Alternative Program.


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Pima County Superior Court

Nicholas Knauer has been appointed Pima County Superior Court commissioner.