The Maricopa County Justice Museum and Learning Center is located on the 6th floor of Maricopa County’s Old Courthouse and is, to our knowledge, the only museum in a working courthouse. The Building has been restored to its 1929 grandeur, is still an active courthouse, thus providing visitors a unique combination of historic insights and contemporary courtroom experiences in one location.
In 1961, Hon. Lorna Lockwood became the first woman judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court. She also became the first female justice of the Arizona Supreme Court (and the first female justice of any state supreme court in the nation) and was seriously considered by President Johnson for nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court in 1978. It was The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor who in 1981 broke the gender barrier as the high Court’s first female member. As such, she was Maricopa County’s second member of the Court, following The Honorable William H. Rehnquist, who was appointed in 1972.
Hon. Charles C. Bernstein ruled decisively that segregation of African-American students in a Phoenix school district was a violation of the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court requested a copy of his opinion before its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which held in 1954 that the doctrine of “separate but equal” was unconstitutional. Attorneys in the Maricopa County case included Hayzel B. Daniels, a pioneering African-American attorney who later became a judge, and Herbert Finn, an indefatigable civil rights activist.
The Museum highlights the importance of the rule of law in our society, including the protection of individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States and Arizona constitutions. It also demonstrates the critical importance of the courts and justice system in our democracy. The Justice Museum acts as a repository that collects, preserves, interprets and exhibits historic materials and memorabilia about the people, issues, and events related to the justice system in Arizona. Currently, there is no other entity devoted to this work. As such, the Museum serves as a valuable resource for historians, scholars, and citizens as well as future generations.
The Old Courthouse was
designed by two different architects, one hired by Maricopa County and the other by the City of Phoenix. Although the exterior, constructed of terra cotta and poured concrete with bronze and polished granite details and red clay roofing tiles, appears unified, the interior comprises two independent buildings in the Neo-Classical and Spanish Colonial Revival styles, respectively.
The Justice Museum is supported by the Maricopa County Justice Museum & Learning Center Foundation, a 501(C)3 non-profit entity. To contribute to the museum click
on the link below.