Respected Associate Judge Janice Breckenridge Retires
Gila River Indian News
Gila River Indian Community Tribal Court Associate Judge Janice Breckenridge, District 6, celebrated her retirement on Dec. 13, 2023, at the Akimel O’otham Loditha Kud Ki (River People’s Court Building) in Sacaton. She served on the bench for 12 years and spent a total of 39 years working for GRIC.
“It’s been good working for the community because I’m from here,” said Breckenridge. Her fellow judges threw the party, which was open to the public.
Breckenridge started her career with the Gila River Police Department (GRPD) in 1983. After completing her bachelor’s degree in business from Western International University, she began working in dispatch and detention.
Breckenridge eventually moved into the investigations office of GRPD where she became knowledgeable in the National Crime Information Systems and taught investigators how to write reports. She also helped the city of Coolidge police department.
In 1995, Breckenridge moved into gaming surveillance and spent 15 years in that capacity, becoming director of surveillance at Gila River Resorts & Casinos—Wild Horse Pass. She left to care for her sister, Alberta Breckenridge, when she became ill.
Alberta encouraged Breckenridge to pursue a career in judicial clerkship and urged her to run for associate judge in the Community. In 2012, Breckenridge completed her master’s degree in business and was elected associate judge.
Breckenridge said she was able to base decisions on significant laws such as the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the evolution of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was enacted in 1994. These two tribal acts were significant in charging non-Community members with crimes committed in the Community.
Breckenridge advises anyone interested in a justice career to study law and be mindful of their actions because if they are judging others, their behavior will come under scrutiny.
“I’ve always been told as judges, your life becomes an open book,” she said. “So, you [have to] watch yourself out there in the public.”
She added that the most important part of a judge’s job is being honest and making decisions that will benefit everybody.
In retirement, Breckenridge plans to focus on her health. She said she still plans to serve as a judge pro tempore, which is a volunteer position, in Tribal Communities or whenever there may be a need for an outside judge’s assistance.
Breckenridge states, “It’s been a privilege working for [my] Community and [I’m] thankful to the Community who put their trust in [me] by voting for [me] as an Associate Judge.”