Within two years, Mac has lost his wife and three children to illness. No longer a county attorney, Mac focused on his private practice and became the legal counsel for the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District.
Founded in 1928, the district administers water from the Gila River and other sources to tens of thousands of acres in the area of Florence, Coolidge, and Casa Grande. Tom Fulbright, who had served as deputy county attorney under Mac, joined his law firm and the two remained partners until the 1970s.
In 1934, Mac ran again for the position of Superior Court Judge of Pinal County. The results were different and Mac defeated the incumbent Ernest L. Green by a significant margin. While Mac returned to the courtroom, Green returned to private practice and, in 1936, joined the McFarland and Fulbright law firm.
Around this time, Mac also began courting Edna Eveland Smith, a teacher at Florence High School.
In 1964, Mac was elected to the Arizona Supreme Court, the highest court in the state. The position of justice was the last elected position for Mac, the culmination of his career as a public servant.
He had served in each branch of government: in the executive branch working in the attorney general’s office and as governor; in the legislative branch as U.S. Senator; and in the judiciary at the county level as attorney and judge.
According to Mac: “This gave me another opportunity to realize one of my boyhood dreams. This was a position I had considered one of the highest in our government, but also one that I had never really expected to attain. I thought it a real challenge, since it gave me an opportunity to advance in the legal profession. At the time, justices were elected. I have always been proud of the fact that I was elected rather than appointed, because I believe in the election of Supreme Court justices.”
Mac rose to chief justice in 1968, thus achieving the unique political triple crown of serving in the highest position in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government – the only Arizonan to ever do so.
While serving on as associate justice, and chief justice in 1968, Mac wrote 315 opinions. Some of the more controversial opinions Mac wrote include Arizona v. Miranda, Phoenix v. Civic Auditorium, and Lassen v. Arizona Highways Department.
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