Court of Appeals

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

  1. 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
  2. “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…
  3. [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…
  4. 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

Apparently Findlaw has a free search that works just fine for Arizona Court of Appeals and az Supreme Court… e.g. here is Baggett via Findlaw. But couldn’t find Maxwell, perhaps too old?

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

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7 thoughts on “Court of Appeals”

  1. The Superior court won’t consider new evidence (although some of the
    stuff in the appellant’s memo wasn’t introduced in trial court, and probably didn’t
    help the case), and the Court is required to “view the facts in a light most favourable to upholding the ruling of the trial court”.

    Consulting the “Representing yourself” civil traffic PDF:
    There’s also a “motion for oral argument”, requesting the court allows (typically very short) verbal argument.

    Then there’s a “motion for rehearing”, which appears to be the same as a “motion for reconsideration” (?)

    And then there’s an appeal from the Superior court to an Appelate court.

    In any higher court, I expect they want as simple of a case as possible, don’t want to grant a motion for oral argument or such, since that can just end up introducing additional, possibly
    contradictory facts, complicating their job.

  2. “Interesting” Rules of Evidence in Civil Traffic Cases… these are the so-called new rules (as amended in 2002 or something)…

    Rule 12 . Representation by the State
    The State need not be represented by counsel at the hearing or appeal of a civil traffic
    complaint. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the State’s right to be represented by counsel
    at the hearing is waived unless, at least 10 calendar days prior to the hearing date or within
    10 calendar days of receipt of notice that the defendant will be represented by counsel,
    whichever is later, the State notifies the court and the defendant, of its election to be represented by counsel.

    Rule 13 . Discovery; Officer’s Notes
    (a) No pre- hearing discovery shall be permitted absent extraordinary circumstances.
    (b) Immediately prior to the hearing, both parties shall produce for inspection any preprepared exhibits and written or recorded statements of any witness. Failure to comply with this rule may result, in the court’s discretion, in the sanction of granting a recess or continuance to permit such inspection or denying admission
    of the evidence not so exchanged.
    (c) During the hearing, upon request of the defendant, the citing officer shall produce any notes made by the officer in reference to the civil traffic complaint. This rule shall not be construed to create a duty on the officer to maintain or preserve notes.

    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. Nothing in this rule is to be construed as abrogating any statutory provision relating to privileged communications.
    (b) The State’s burden of proof shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.

  3. http://www.azcourts.gov/guidetoazcourts

    Particularly the following:
    http://www.azcourts.gov/guidetoazcourts/TodaysCourtSystemHasThreeLevels.aspx
    Unlike the court of appeals, the Supreme Court is not required
    to hear every appeal.
    http://www.azcourts.gov/guidetoazcourts/LimitedJurisdictionCourts.aspx
    http://www.azcourts.gov/guidetoazcourts/HowaCaseMovesThroughtheCourtSystem.aspx

    The following is all from memory, as I recall, essentially all of it
    from the above source documents:

    1) trial court; municipal or justice for misdemeanors; for felonies,
    they can only handle the initial appearance, and
    (hypothetically) dismiss the case if they decide the police
    didn’t meet the “probably cause” burden (I think the burder
    may be “preponderance of the evidence” in some states?)

    2) appeal to superior court (unless it’s capital, in which case appeal
    is automatic and to the supreme court). That’s usually
    written, but “motion for oral argument” may allow a (short)
    argument, I guess in addition to the existing record, and
    probably (?) in addition to a written memo.

    2.5) motion to reconsider. That’s a request to the same court (here,
    superior) to reconsider its judgement. It costs nothing, but
    must be submitted within 14 (?) calendar days, and I assume
    it’s essentially never successful.

    3) court of appeals
    3.5) motion to reconsider (?)
    4) supreme court
    4.5) motion to reconsider (?)

    I don’t know if the court of appeals is guaranteed or if they’re
    “solicited” like for the supreme court (or if it depends on what court
    the trial was in?).

    There are other rules for (1), like: small claims court goes to
    justice court, but nonsmall claims (something like >=10,000$) goes to
    superior court. There’s other rules for things like minors and such.

  4. I was under the impression that civil traffic violations could, at least theoretically, be appealed to the Court of Appeals; this dismissed appeal says otherwise. In short, the statute 22-375 effectively precludes appeals above the Superior Court for traffic laws unless it is a constitutional (“validity”) challenge. It is separately unclear to me if/how constitutional challenges, e.g. for vagueness, or due process, can ever be made for civil (as distinct from criminal) infractions.

    Arizona v. Banahan CA-CV 11-0806-156892
    Furthermore, as Banahan is appealing from a judgment regarding a civil traffic violation, his rights to appeal are defined by A.R.S. § 28-1600 (2012). That section, in pertinent part, provides that “[a] party may appeal the judgment of the court . . . to the superior court in the same manner as provided by rules adopted by the supreme court.” There is no provision in § 28-1600, however, permitting an additional appeal to our court. In fact, our court has previously found that we lack jurisdiction to review the adjudication of a civil traffic violation. See Poli, 161 Ariz. at (151,) 153, 776 P.2d at (1077,) 1079.

    So, if it’s true that civil traffic violations can never be appealed above Superior Court; it’s implied that it’s impossible to ever even make a constitutional challenge to a civil traffic law. (well other than at trial and then at Superior Court appeal). One possible exception is something called a Special Action by the Court of Appeals (to be researched later).

  5. From: Ed Beighe
    Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2021 12:46 PM
    To: Inform
    Subject: your search page

    hi there, I have a question about searching; you page says
    “Search the content of all Opinion and Memorandum documents on record. This will cover Court of Appeals, Division 1.”
    https://www.azcourts.gov/coa1/SearchDecisionDocumentText.aspx

    I’ve found rather strange / unpredictable result.
    for example, a search for the term ’28-‘ (without the quote marks) yields only FOUR results; three old ones but one from 2019, and i note all of them are .doc (or .docx)

    I was intending to search for the term bicycle, which yields no results, I know however it appears in 12-0480 which i can easily find from you other search page https://www.azcourts.gov/coa1/Decisions/SearchDecisions (because i know the case number). So why does a search for bicycle yield no results?

    Regards,
    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    Hi Ed –

    I received word from our I.T. department. Currently, the Search Document Text feature only works on Word Documents – and the majority of Decisions being posted on that page are in PDF format. Our I.T. team is looking into the possibility of implementing a PDF iFilter to allow for searches of those documents as well.

    Jakob Trierweiler
    Clerk’s Office Operations Manager
    Arizona Court of Appeals, Division I

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