Born in October 1947 in Boonton, New Jersey, Andrew David Hurwitz earned an A.B. in public and international affairs from Princeton University in 1968, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1972. After completing his legal studies, Hurwitz clerked for Judge Jon Newman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (1972), Judge J. Joseph Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1972-73), and Associate Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court (1973-74). He then went on to practice law in Phoenix from 1974-2003. His practice included commercial litigation, administrative law, and government affairs, but he was best known for his appellate work.
Hurwitz in 2002 successfully argued Ring v. Arizona before the U.S. Supreme Court. Representing a number of death row inmates, he maintained that in murder cases the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial requires juries, rather than judges, to determine whether sufficient aggravating circumstances exist to qualify defendants for capital punishment. The Court sided with Hurwitz in a 7-2 decision that strongly influenced capital sentencing in several states.
In 2003 Hurwitz co-chaired the transition team for newly elected Arizona governor Janet Napolitano. That same year, Napolitano appointed Hurwitz to the Arizona Supreme Court. In 2006 Hurwitz was elected to a six-year term on that Court.
In addition to his judicial duties, Hurwitz, a member of the American Law Institute since 2002, also serves on the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence—a post to which he was first appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 2004.
In a 2003 law review article, Hurwitz boasted of having helped craft a 1972 opinion by the lower court judge for whom he had first clerked, Jon Newman, that significantly influenced the Supreme Court’s subsequent Roe v. Wade decision. In his 2003 piece, Hurwitz lauded Judge Newman’s opinion as a “careful and meticulous analysis of the competing constitutional issues.” Moreover, he praised Newman for having “candidly conceded that a court could never resolve the philosophical issue of whether a fetus was a human being from the moment of conception.”
In 2011 Hurwitz was the lone dissenter in two separate death-penalty cases where the Arizona Supreme Court denied requests to stay the executions of defendants who had already spent more than two decades repeatedly appealing their convictions. In one of the cases, the Court denied a new trial to James Lynn Styers, convicted of the 1989 abduction and murder of a four-year-old boy. Breaking ranks with his fellow judges, Hurwitz—suggesting that the killer, at the time of his crime, might have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his Vietnam War service—ruled in favor of retrying Styers. In the other death-penalty case, Hurwitz likewise voted in favor of a new trial for Donald Beaty, who had been convicted of abducting, sexually assaulting, and suffocating a 13-year-old girl in 1984 while she was collecting newspaper subscription payments.
Hurwitz supports affirmative action (i.e., race and gender preferences in favor of nonwhites and women) as a vehicle to promote social justice. For instance, during his 1988-96 tenure on the Arizona Board of Regents, he backed the Board’s mandate that university presidents take active steps to increase minority enrollment and graduation rates by 10% each year. Further, Hurwitz has characterized the failure of law schools to admit and graduate larger numbers of women and minorities as “legal colonialism.”
On November 2, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Hurwitz to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most powerful courts in the nation. Hurwitz was confirmed on June 12, 2012, and received his commission fifteen days later.
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