There are two Court of Appeals in Arizona, Division 1 and Division 2. The state is divvied up geographically.
Court of Appeals, Division Two , Divsion 2 covers Tucson
Court of Appeals, Divsion One (or 1 or I if you prefer). Division 1 covers Phoenix
tip: you can seach Arizona Court of Appeals by doing this google search (but it’s not clear how well this works — i.e. can’t find older opinions; should use the court’s search functions to be more sure):
bicycle site:azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles (Divsion 1)
bicycle site:www.apltwo.ct.state.az.us (Division 2)
There’s two comments here about some interesting decisions, relating to Maxwell.
There’s a very recent (2013) ruling about using headlights on the sidewalk: Baggett.
Order of court proceedings for civil traffic complaint
- local court (also referred to as the “inferior” court); e.g. a justice court, or city municipal court… if found responsible you file a “Notice of Appeal” get a copy of the record, and eventually file a
- “Motion for Rehearing”, or the “Appellant’s Memorandum” (different names for the same thing?) in county superior court, if unhappy “Generally, there is no right of appeal to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court”, but next stop is…
- [There’s a big caveat here, see comment below about Banahan and the earlier Poli for details] Court of Appeals. Division One or Divison Two (by geography) “The second highest court in Arizona. A case originating in the traffic court will rarely be considered by the Court of Appeals” … also note “In rare cases, a special action may be granted”. If Court of Appeals rules and are still unhappy you can ask the…
- Supreme Court; which is entirely at their discretion.
Note that the cost for an appeal from municipal (or justice) court to Superior court will typically be more than simply paying the cost of the fine; which as of 2020 is in the neighborhood of just below $200, and varies a bit by jurisdiction. (and a diversion program can be substantially cheaper; in diversion the ticket is dismissed and you pay a fee to take a class)
The filing fees in Superior Court are relatively hefty — e.g. in 2020, in Maricopa County it’s $160. Additionally, there will be a fee from the lower-court to provide the required materials, typically an audio recording, and varies by jurisdiction, e.g. the cost in Scottsdale Municipal court are $17; but in Phoenix Municipal it’s currently $50. These fees, and the filing fee are non-refundable regardless of outcome. If you get a favorable appeal, of course, you will not have to pay the fine.
Here are a couple of handy documents about how Traffic Court works in Arizona:
- azcourts.gov self-service traffic law resource page. This document is still on their site (but I don’t see it referenced?) Representing yourself: appealing a civil traffic case, currently dated 2008 (here is an archived copy)
- Civil Traffic Rules and Procedure – The New Rules Prepared by Hon. George T. Anagnost, Peoria Municipal Court, 2002. Covers procedural rules, rules of evidence, etc (another copy of this document is here, and here is an archived copy). Especially interesting fragments (my emphasis): “Rule 17. Rules of Evidence and Burden of Proof… (a) The Arizona Rules of Evidence shall NOT apply in civil traffic cases. Evidence may be admitted subject to a determination that the evidence has some probative value to a fact at issue” “Rule 12 . The State NEED NOT be represented by counsel at the hearing or appeal of a civil traffic complaint” (indeed, it is exceedingly rare from what I understand for the state to be represented, except in the City of Flagstaff).
- ASU School of Law “Guide to Arizona Traffic & DUI laws” lists of resources.
- Westlaw.com site “Arizona Court Rules” has a whole bunch of different rules for different courts, e.g. rules of civil procedures
There’s a really handy document at the Arizona Attorney General’s site: The Criminal Justice Process: An Overview; and a handy flowchart, as well — both DEAD links of course. Check out AG Victim’s rights page for similar info(?).
Searching with Findlaw
Precedent vs. Persuasive
If you have been wrongly ticketed, but still found responsible in municipal (or justice) court, you can appeal the decision to Superior court in the county.
Note that although a lower court appeal (LCA) will not be “published”, nor constitute a “precedent”, they can be used by other cyclists for “persuasive” value (see below for explanation) should they find themselves with similarly situated citations. There are a handful of documented trials including some favorable lower court appeals, see here and here.
This is what you need to remember: Even after the rule change in 2015, memorandum decisions in Arizona are not precedent. Memorandum decisions may be cited only under certain circumstances: 1) to establish claim preclusion, issue preclusion, or law of the case, (2) to assist the appellate court in deciding whether to issue a published opinion, grant a motion for reconsideration, or grant a petition for review, or (3) for persuasive value (not precedent). Unpublished cases cited for persuasive value are subject to these additional qualifications: (1) only cases issued on or after January 1, 2015, (2) no opinion adequately addresses the issue before the court, and (3) the citation is not to a depublished opinion or a depublished portion of an opinion.
All citations to unpublished cases must indicate that the decision is a memorandum decision, and the memorandum decision must be provided to the court and opposing counsel, either by a copy of the decision or a hyperlink to the decision. — www.jaburgwilk.com