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Robert Hooker, Champion of Justice

Pima County lost one of its most valuable assets when Public Defender Robert Hooker was killed in a tragic traffic accident in April 2008.

Hooker combined a calm demeanor with firm convictions to shape and upgrade the county PubRemembering Robert Hookerlic Defender’s Office in his more than two years at its helm. He was resolute in his belief that those without money or savvy deserved legal representation as capable as that of the wealthy and sophisticated.

A former Superior Court judge and longtime defense attorney in private practice, Hooker took on the Public Defender job in January 2005 determined to put his belief into practice. Under his leadership the office, which represents indigents charged with serious crimes, significantly increased its courtroom presence – especially when it came to first-degree murder cases. This saved taxpayers money because fewer major cases had to be sent to expensive private attorneys.

Tall and impeccably well-dressed, Hooker, 65, attracted seasoned attorneys to the Public Defender’s Office with the help of longtime friend and former legal partner Robert Hirsh, a top criminal defense attorney who once specialized in insanity defenses. Hirsh has taken over as Public Defender.

Hooker was as well known for his broad knowledge of law as he was for strong convictions and his passion for the Bill of Rights. He resigned as a Superior Court judge in 1983 after the Arizona Legislature passed a law limiting judicial discretion in sentencing and setting draconian minimum sentences that since have vastly increased the state’s prison population.

He was a native of north-central California and graduated from Chico State University, where he played basketball, before coming to Tucson and the University of Arizona to earn his law degree and settle into his career.

After work one evening in early April, the vehicle Hooker was driving was struck head-on just north of downtown when a drag-racing teenager lost control of his vehicle. The Public Defender was killed instantly.

Hooker is survived by his wife of 43 years, Sharon; their son Lance; a sister, Marsha Crowe; and two grandchildren.

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Supervisor Adelita Grijalva, Vice Chair

Pima County, Arizona
District 5

33 N. Stone Ave., 11th Floor
Tucson, AZ 85701

Phone: (520) 724-8126
Fax: (520) 884-1152

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