Courts


Arizona_Supreme_Court_Seal

[Note: This post was updated on March 2, 2015, to add the name of the Chair of the Business Court Advisory Committee, David Rosenbaum. I mean, I forgot the Chair! I’m sorry for the omission.]

A pilot program that creates a new superior court venue for commercial disputes was established by the Arizona Supreme Court this month. The three-year program will launch in July and function in Maricopa County.

The program’s details are set out in Administrative Order 2015-15, issued on February 18, and it followed on the work of a Business Court Advisory Committee, created by the Supreme Court in May 2014. This Administrative Order also adopts new Rule of Civil Procedure 8.1 and two new forms that practitioners and the court would use (included as an attachment to the order).

The three judges named to the new program for the pilot period are Judges Dawn Bergin, Roger Brodman and Christopher Whitten.

Rules 8.1(b), (c) and (d), included in the order (which you can read here), set out the case types that could be (and could not be) handled by the new venue.

Not to be lost amid the new development is the hard work and creativity of the original Court-created committee. You can read all their names and affiliations in Appendix A to A.O. 2014-48. But just to make it easier for you, congratulations and thanks to (alphabetically): Chair David Rosenbaum, Michael Arkfeld, Ray Billotte, Judge Kyle Bryson, Andrew Federhar, Glenn Hamer, Bill Klain, Mark Larson, Lisa Loo, Judge Scott Rash (appointed in A.O. 2014-58), Judge John Rea, Trish Refo, Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Mark Rogers, Nicole Stanton, Steve Tully, Steven Weinberger and Judge Christopher Whitten (appointed in A.O. 2014-58).

And here is a release from the Court:

“Civil commercial disputes may soon be handled in a new venue thanks to an Administrative Order by the Arizona Supreme Court that was signed this week. In May 2014, the Supreme Court established an 18-member advisory committee to study the feasibility of establishing a special venue within the Superior Courts to address the unique needs of businesses engaged in commercial civil litigation. The Superior Court in Maricopa County is in the process of launching a three-year pilot Commercial Court program.”

“‘This court recognizes that disputes between companies or involving the internal governance of businesses often raise issues that require specialized knowledge and that implicate potentially expensive discovery. By appointing experienced judges and establishing processes shaped for commercial civil litigation, we hope to show that these disputes can be resolved more efficiently and economically,’ Chief Justice Scott Bales explained.”

“The advisory committee cited several reasons that a Commercial Court would be beneficial to Arizona, including:

  • To make Arizona a more favorable forum for resolving business disputes;
  • To improve the business community’s access to justice;
  • To expeditiously resolve business cases and reduce litigation costs;
  • To improve the quality of justice; and
  • To gain the business community’s support for the State of Arizona’s dispute resolution system.”

“The pilot program is slated to begin July 1, 2015, giving the Superior Court in Maricopa County time to re-assign workload as necessary and implement other administrative steps in advance of taking on its first docket of cases.”

“The establishment of a Commercial Court is budget neutral and will be achieved through the use of existing judges and resources that are currently in place at the trial court level. Judges Dawn Bergin, Roger Brodman and Christopher Whitten are the three judges who will hear Commercial Court cases.”

“Once a case is assigned to Commercial Court, there will be a mandatory early scheduling conference to help address discovery issues and adopt an effective and efficient schedule for progress of the case.”

Ariz. Chief Justice Scott Bales

Ariz. Chief Justice Scott Bales

Here is some news from Community Legal Services, Phoenix:

On February 6, 2015, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales collaborated with members of the team at Community Legal Services (CLS) to discuss ideas to assist low-income Arizonans’ access to justice. Community Legal Services is a non-profit, civil legal aid program serving low-income persons in Maricopa, Mohave, La Paz, Yavapai and Yuma counties. Of primary consideration were the barriers to equal access to justice, including those litigants face prior to and during court.

This past year, Justice Scott Bales announced the formation of the Access to Justice Commission, headed by Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop. Justice Bales said that there have been significant successes in Arizona’s goal of increased access. This new commission is recognizing current challenges, and it will help to focus and achieve tailored plans for success.

The plight of accessing equal access to justice is an everyday occurrence at Community Legal Services, whose client community have legal problems in several areas of law, including family law, housing, consumer, employment, health and economic stability.

Community Legal Services logoJustice Bales discussed the goals of the Commission with CLS attorneys. Commission members are studying and will make recommendations on innovative ways to promote access to justice for individuals who cannot afford legal counsel and will evaluate best practices within Arizona and other states, identifying possible changes in court rules or practices designed to reduce barriers to access, identify and encourage the adoption of best practices among legal service providers, and consider potential long-term funding options.

This opportunity for Justice Bales to meet with CLS attorney staff was facilitated by Pamela Bridge, CLS Director of Litigation and Advocacy, who stated:

“Community Legal Services is extremely grateful for Chief Justice Bales’ dedication to improving access to justice in Arizona. We are excited to continue to collaborate with Chief Justice Bales and advocates throughout the state in order to work together to find meaningful, practical solutions to barriers to access to justice.”

See how the ranch and the bench intersected in Sandra Day O'Connor's life at an event Wednesday, Feb. 25.

See how the ranch and the bench intersected in Sandra Day O’Connor’s life at an event Wednesday, Feb. 25.

This Wednesday, a Phoenix event will include an opportunity to see a display of items related to Sandra Day O’Connor’s cowgirl days.

The mixer of the Phoenix Community Alliance will be held at the Irish Cultural Center in Margaret T. Hance Park on Wednesday, Feb. 25, from 4:30 to 6:30. The address is 1106 N Central Ave., Phoenix 85004.

Register here for the free event (a map and parking information are also available).

As organizers say:

“The Irish Cultural Center is also home to the McClelland Irish Library, which resembles a traditional 12th century Norman castle from the Emerald Isle. The library consists of 8,000 books from Irish authors, poets, and genealogical sources.”

On exhibit in the library is “The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor,” an interactive exhibit that shows how the ranch and the bench intersected. It “demonstrates how a cowgirl from a ranch in Arizona became the first female to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

I wrote before about the connection between the Irish Cultural Center and Justice O’Connor.

For more about what you’ll see at the exhibit, click here.

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

AZTurboCourt e-filing logoToday I share the following item from the Arizona Supreme Court about their next step in making Arizona an e-filing state. As they say, the automated case system launched on Tuesday in Pima County.

The next generation of court automation has arrived in the Superior Court in Pima County. AZTurboCourt is available for civil case initiation and civil subsequent filing in the Pima County Superior Court beginning February 17, 2015. Opening a civil case and submitting additional materials related to the case used to require a visit to the Clerk of the Superior Court. In-person trips to the Clerk to file a Pima County civil case will be a thing of the past with the launch of AZTurboCourt.

Law offices will need to establish an account in AZTurboCourt before making their first filing. Please be aware that it may take three to four days to set up your payment account. For information on how to register and set up a payment account please go here and click on the “Training Manuals” or “Tutorial Videos” link.

Live and online training classes will be available starting February 9. The training sessions will include step-by-step instructions on launching an account, e-filing a case, attaching documents, and other tips to ensure that an electronic submission is not delayed due to errors.

A training manual and self-paced training videos are available on our website here. There are several differences between the Maricopa County application and the Pima County application, so training is highly encouraged. To sign up for an in-person or WebEx training class, please visit here.

On Friday, Feb. 6, 2015: The Rehnquist Court Ten Years Later

On Friday, Feb. 6, 2015: The Rehnquist Court Ten Years Later

On Friday this week, a distinguished group will gather in Tucson to commemorate an anniversary related to former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. As the organizers describe it:

“On February 6, 2015, the William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government will convene a day-long conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the end of William H. Rehnquist’s 19 year service as Chief Justice of the United States. The gathering will be a chance to examine the legacy of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s jurisprudence, especially in the areas of federalism, separation of powers, and lawyering. The day will close with an informal reception and dinner for all conference attendees.”

The day’s topics will include:

  • federalism
  • the role of the Chief Justice
  • criminal procedure, and
  • the First Amendment and religion

Rehnquist Center banner logoSpeakers are slated to include practicing lawyers, law professors from the UA and around the country, as well as federal district and Circuit court judges.

You can read the complete program here.

And there is still time to register here.

Note that the event will be held at the Westward Look Resort & Spa (245 E. Ina Road, Tucson 85704). (A map is below.)

Questions? Contact Bernadette Wilkinson at bwilkins@email.arizona.edu or 520-626-1629.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealToday, I share some news from the Arizona Supreme Court on a topic that should catch lawyers’ attention: possible changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Here’s the Court:

A process that began six months ago has resulted in the submission of a petition to amend several Supreme Court Rules governing the practice of law in Arizona. The proposed changes are posted online for public comment.

In June 2014, the Supreme Court established the 13-member Committee on the Review of Supreme Court Rules Governing Professional Conduct and the Practice of Law, which was chaired by Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer. The proposed changes are the result of a series of public meetings, which included input from a variety of stakeholder groups and the State Bar of Arizona.

Changes in the practice of law, the emergence of global law firms, the evolution of technology and other factors affecting the modernized law office led the Committee to recommend rule changes. In some cases, the rules petition adds clarifying language while maintaining the text and intent of the rules.

Some of the recommendations include rules:

  • Allowing flexibility for new forms of legal teams, for example, allowing teams of lawyers from different firms to share responsibility and fees, while still ensuring adequate protections for the public;
  • Proposing language governing the admission of lawyers who relocate to Arizona due to a military spouse’s service commitment;
  • Providing guidance on safeguarding the storage, transmission, and security of client data in the modern digital law practice.

The Committee also submitted a report to the Supreme Court describing proposals the Committee had considered but rejected. For example, the Committee recommended that the Court not admit on motion lawyers from jurisdictions that do not have reciprocal admission rules for Arizona lawyers.

To view or comment on the proposed rule changes, go to the Arizona Supreme Court Rules Forum here. Comments are due on or before May 20, 2015. The earliest that the Supreme Court could take action on the proposed changes is August 2015.

first-amendment-coalition-logo

How much do you know about the use of mobile devices in Arizona courtrooms? A free presentation to be offered in Tucson will answer many of your questions.

The event is sponsored by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, and it will be held at the University of Arizona in Tucson on Friday, January 23. It will cover all the most recent changes to rules regarding cameras, mobile phones and more.

Click here for more information.

Panelists will include:

  • Cathie Batbie, news director at KVOA-TV (Channel 4-NBC), Tucson
  • Amelia Craig Cramer, chief deputy Pima County Attorney and former president of the State Bar of Arizona
  • Patrick McNamara, courts reporter, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
  • Hon. Sally Simmons, presiding judge of the Pima County Superior Court and former president of the State Bar of Arizona
  • Hon. Scott Rash, Pima County Superior Court judge

“Moderating the discussion will be well-known Phoenix media law attorney Daniel C. Barr, partner in the firm of Perkins Coie LLP, and counsel to the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona.”

As the website indicates: Admission is free and the public is invited, but to have an accurate count for ordering a continental breakfast, RSVPs are requested to phoenixspj@cox.net.

This event will replicate a first successful one back in October that the organization sponsored in Phoenix. (I wrote about it here.) 

Note: To accommodate more people, organizers have moved the location of the cameras-in-courtrooms panel discussion. It’s now in the UA Education Building, 1430 E. Second St. Map and parking information is here. (And a map is below.)

Questions? Email phoenixspj@cox.net.

 

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