William J. Risner ’62 (Bill)

Brother Bill Risner has enjoyed a success career practicing law in Tucson for nearly 40 years. He opened his first firm in 1968, the Law Offices of William J. Risner, shortly after earning his B.A. from the University of Arizona in 1965, and his J.D. degree in 1968.

Bill’s practice primarily involved litigation from mostly criminal work in the early years but has centered primarily on civil and personal injury litigation in recent years. He has also engaged in group representation of many types and has been heavily involved in a wide variety of community and political issues with legal facets. Various groups he has represented include homeowner groups, political parties, environmental groups, and even the Associated Students of the University of Arizona in the late 1970’s. He also served as a Gamma-Rho House Corporation director in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Brother Risner’s involvement with politics includes serving as the election law attorney for the Pima County Democratic Party for several years. He has represented the Democratic Party and the New Party in a successful redistricting case and has also been hired by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on two occasions for law litigation, as well as by F. Ann Rodriguez, the Pima County recorder. In 1996, he served as the Arizona delegate to the Democratic Party National Convention in Chicago.

His legal work has also touched on the Greek community when in a series of reported decisions in Hernandez vs. Delta Tau Delta, he established a social host liability for the service of alcohol to minors in Arizona and, in the first reported case in the United States, established liability for a national social fraternity for the service of alcohol at college chapters.

Now, before anyone reading this who does not know Brother Risner personally gets the impression of a super-serious, straight-laced, legal eagle, realize that like all of us, Bill too has had his share of “Gamma-Rho moments.”

Brother Tom Keating ’62 recalls a certain incident when Bill was kidnappedby a pledge class. “He was taken prisoner, stripped of his clothing, and marooned naked on some island in Lake Havasu. Now, any pledge brother of Risner’s would understand that being naked was not (and is still not) a big problem for him. He and his manhood are very good friends. As it turned out, he flagged down a passing boat and got a lift, somehow, all the way back to Tucson where he greeted the shocked pledge class upon their return to the house.”

On another instance, Brother Risner nearly needed counsel of his own to provide criminal litigation after a certain large cake for a retiring President Harvill was absconded with. CSI Tucson did not need to be called in to solve this heist. The campus police were easily able to track down the culprits and recover what was left of the now trashed cake simply by following the trail of crumbs from the Auditorum, to Sigma Chi (trying to pin it on someone else), and finally to the Kappa Sigma house. University staff walked into the Chapter House and found Bill with cake in his mouth. You will have to ask Bill for the complete story and the results of his punishment.

We believe it is cases like this that led to Bill deciding to be a defense attorney, and to provide all the free legal counsel to young members throughout the years.