1850 North Central Avenue Suite 1100 Phoenix, Arizona 85004

(602) 604-2141

Mon - Fri: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


Joseph L. Brownlee is an experienced, veteran Courtroom Attorney since 1970. Mr. Brownlee has successfully appeared and argued on behalf of Clients in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Arizona United States District Courts, Arizona Supreme Court, Arizona Court of Appeals -- Divisions One and Two, and Superior Courts throughout Arizona. Mr. Brownlee has also served as a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore from 1991 to the present date in Phoenix, Arizona.

From 1987 to the present, Mr. Brownlee has represented Arizona and national businesses in corporate legal matters in Arizona Federal and State Civil Courts. In that time, he has also provided legal counseling and assistance in all litigation matters.

During Mr. Brownlee’s vast and varied Courtroom experience of over 45 years, he successfully handled numerous jury trials lasting over three months; this has provided him with the most tenacious and aggressive Courtroom skills to thoroughly and confidently represent his Clients -- whether large corporations, small organizations, or individuals. On behalf of his Clients, Mr. Brownlee has secured voluntary dismissals of lawsuits, successful Jury Trial Defense Verdict outcomes, or was awarded Summary Judgments or Dismissals. In every case where the unsuccessful opponent has sought relief in appellate courts, Mr. Brownlee’s Clients have also prevailed in the appellate courts.

  • United States Supreme Court, 2008
  • U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1976
  • Arizona Supreme Court, 1974
  • U.S. District Court of Arizona, 1974
  • Indiana Supreme Court, 1972
  • U.S. District Court of Indiana, 1972
  • U.S. Court of Military Appeals, 1972


Barkhurst v. The Kingsmen of Route 66, Inc.,

234 Ariz. 470, 323 P.3d 753 (2014). $3.5 million dollar liquor liability claim against The Kingsmen of Route 66, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization that for 30 years sponsored the Andy Devine Rodeo Days in Kingman, Arizona. Barkhurst claimed the Rodeo sponsorship made The Kingsmen responsible for his severe assault and battery outside a local restaurant and bar that was celebrating Rodeo Days. Making new liquor liability law, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the Mohave County Superior Court’s Summary Judgment Dismissal of The Kingsmen who had no control over or participation in the bar’s activities.

Benjamin v. Gear Roller Hockey Equipment,

198 Ariz. 462, 11 P.3d 421 (App. 2000). For over 20 years, the Arizona Court of Appeals had not upheld a written Waiver and Release of Liability in an amusement case. When Benjamin registered for a roller skating hockey league, he signed a written Waiver and Release for the skating rink’s negligent facilities. Benjamin lost his balance, fell, and broke his ankle. He alleged the skating rink floor was negligently uneven and caused him to fall. The Maricopa County Superior Court upheld the Waiver and Release and dismissed his case. The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Trial Court based on the Skating Rink’s Waiver and Release form, making new Arizona civil negligence law.

Amusement Industry Defense.

Mr. Brownlee's civil law practice is dedicated to the representation of amusement industry businesses, civic non-profit organizations, amusement ride manufacturers, amusement parks, municipal and county parks, State and County fairs, County and City rodeos, family entertainment centers, water parks, carnivals, go-kart tracks, batting cages, roller skating rinks, and other leisure attractions and amusement businesses throughout Arizona. Mr. Brownlee successfully made new Arizona law in the published Arizona Court of Appeals’ case of Gear Roller Hockey Equipment v. Benjamin, 198 Ariz. 462, 11 P.3d 421 (App. 2000), where the Appellate Court upheld Summary Judgment Dismissal in a hotly contested amusement case.

No Arizona lawyer has handled more amusement and leisure litigation than Mr. Brownlee. In 1991, Mr. Brownlee became the Arizona’s first and only Arizona Attorney as a member of the International Amusement and Leisure Defense Association (IALDA), an international organization of Attorneys and industry-related individuals who represent and defend amusement and leisure industry businesses, manufacturers, and members. From 2003 – 2005, Mr. Brownlee was the elected President of the Board of Directors of IALDA, and has served as an IALDA Board Member from 1997 to the present date. As such, Mr. Brownlee is a frequent national speaker in the areas of trial strategy, trial techniques, risk management, insurance coverage, safety, maintenance, operations, incident investigations, Americans with Disability Act claims, and comprehensive legal defense strategies to avoid expensive litigation.

Liquor Liability Defense.

Another significant portion of Mr. Brownlee’s civil litigation practice is liquor liability representation, insurance coverage, defense, and legal advice of restaurants, bars, liquor establishments, and non-profit organizations throughout Arizona. Mr. Brownlee has represented numerous liquor establishments and defended non-profit organizations against liquor liability claims and lawsuits on a State-wide basis. In most instances, Mr. Brownlee’s aggressive defense strategies and targeted discovery techniques have resulted in pre-trial dismissal or minimal settlement resolutions. Those liquor liability cases that were litigated resulted in Superior Court Summary Judgment Dismissals or Defense Verdicts from a Jury Trial. An Appeal of one Summary Judgment Dismissal with a $3.5 Million Dollar Demand resulted in the Court of Appeals in Barkhurst v. The Kingsmen of Route 66, Inc., 234 Ariz. 470, 323 P.3d 753 (App. 2014) making new Arizona Liquor Law for non-profit, charitable organizations by upholding the Trial Judge’s Dismissal, while also awarding substantial costs and fees to Mr. Brownlee’s Clients.


Mr. Brownlee’s civil litigation defense experience includes the following major civil cases:

Police Officer T-Boned in Trucking Collision$15 Million$1.75 Million
6 yr. old Rodeo Princess Fatally Trampled by Horses and Crushed by Wagon$10 Million$800,000
Bar Fight, 23 yr old Man, Severe Brain Injuries Outside Bar (Dram Shop)$3.6 MillionSummary Judgment Dismissal Affirmed by Court of Appeals
Shooting Death Outside Bar (Dram Shop)$3 MillionDismissed
Fatal Pedestrian Collision by Drunk Driver (Dram Shop)$2 MillionDismissed
Fatal Drunk Driver Collision (Dram Shop)$3 Million$10,000
Fatal Drunk Driver Collision (Dram Shop)$3 Million$10,000
Roller Skating 54 yr. Woman; Broken Wrist$1.9 MillionDefense Verdict
Spa Exercise Machine Injury, 37 yr. old Man, Severed Triceps$500,000Defense Verdict
Slip in Mall, 67 yr old woman, Hip Fracture$750,000Defense Verdict
Amusement Ride 36 yr. old Woman, Fractured Leg$350,000Defense Verdict
Roller Skating, 28 yr. old Man, Ankle Fracture$175,000Summary Judgment Dismissal Affirmed by Court of Appeals
Slip in Mall, 33 yr. old woman, Knee Fracture$175,000Defense Verdict
Roller Coaster, 24 yr. old Woman, Neck Injury$50,000Defense Verdict
GoKart Crash, 22 yr. old Woman, Neck Injury$50,000Defense Verdict
County Fair, Shooting by Security Guards$250,000Dismissed
Roller Skating, 27 yr. old Woman, Ankle Fracture$95,000Dismissed

Death Penalty Homicide and Organized-Crime Prosecutor

Prior to engaging in Civil Practice, Mr. Brownlee was a veteran Homicide and Organized Crime Prosecutor for many years with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona. He successfully obtained three Arizona Capital Death Penalty Jury Verdicts in four Jury Trials resulting from organized-crime contract, double homicides committed in Phoenix, Arizona. Despite numerous appeals and other criminal post-conviction proceedings, all three Death Penalty Verdicts were affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court and upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

Additionally, in Criminal Court Jury Trials throughout Arizona, Mr. Brownlee successfully prosecuted many homicides, organized-crime, armed robberies, sexual assaults, embezzlements, grand theft, fraud schemes and artifices. Due to Mr. Brownlee’s tenacious prosecution on behalf of victims, most of these criminal defendants were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.

United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Office

From 1969 to 1976, Capt. Joseph Brownlee was assigned to the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Office.

Chief Defense Attorney

In 1974 - 1976, Capt. Brownlee was appointed by the USAF Judge Advocate General to be the first USAF Area Defense Counsel detached from USAF Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Capt. Brownlee successfully defended Air Force Service Members in General and Special Courts Martial in USAF Third and Fourth Judicial Circuit Military Court proceedings in Texas, California, and Arizona.

Assistant Staff Judge Advocate

From 1972 – 1974, Capt. Brownlee prosecuted Air Force Service Members in General and Special Courts Martial at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in USAF Military Court proceedings.

Indiana Municipal Court Criminal Prosecutor

While still attending his second and third years at Indiana University School of Law from 1970 to 1972, Mr. Brownlee was appointed as an Intern by the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office. In the first week of his Internship, Mr. Brownlee was designated as the sole Criminal Prosecutor for all Jury Trials and Bench Trials in the Monroe County Municipal Court against veteran criminal defense attorneys in Bloomington, Indiana.

Criminal Defense of White Collar and Major Felonies Clients

Mr. Brownlee has criminal law experience dating back to 1970, and has successfully defended many Clients charged with major felonies, homicides, and white collar crimes in Criminal Courts throughout Arizona since 1991.

In 2016 and 2017, Mr. Brownlee sought relief in the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals as pro bono Defense Counsel in a juvenile defendant matter of state-wide importance. Mr. Brownlee discovered that Superior Court Judges were ignoring mandatory Arizona criminal statutes that required Superior Courts to conduct a juvenile transfer hearing for all juveniles charged as adults in superior court, instead of juvenile court. While not obtaining a written Court Opinion, Mr. Brownlee has noted that since his pro bono Petition for Review, Judicial Court training now includes instructing Superior Court Criminal Judges of the mandatory Arizona law that requires all Superior Courts to conduct a juvenile transfer hearing for all juveniles charged as adults in superior court.

Mr. Brownlee continues to represent selected Clients charged with major felonies, homicides, and white collar crimes in Criminal Courts throughout Arizona.

Joseph L. Brownlee

Joseph L. Brownlee

Of Counsel