Maria Elena Cruz is a judge for Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Judge Cruz obtained a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law and has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. She began her practice of law as a prosecutor in Arizona at the Yuma County Attorney’s Office, prosecuting felony offenders. Later, she practiced in criminal defense, eventually venturing into solo practice.
As a solo practitioner, Judge Cruz primarily undertook representation in criminal and family law matters and served as judge pro-tem for the Cocopah Indian Tribe. In 2008 Judge Cruz was elected Superior Court Judge in Yuma County, Arizona and at the time of her appointment to the Court of Appeals was the Presiding Judge in Yuma County.
In addition to her judicial responsibilities, Judge Cruz serves on the Arizona Supreme Court’s Commission on Access to Justice, as well as the Arizona Supreme Court’s Task Force on Justice for All and the Commission on Victims in the Court.
Judge Cruz contributes to the development of the law internationally by serving as a professor of law teaching trial advocacy in various regions within the Republic of Mexico, including Mexico City, Tijuana, Mexicali, La Paz, and Guanajuato.