this guy is an ex-pig and life time government parsite but still i agree with him that the tempe courts shouldnt be moved to chandler

Compromise needed before courts move

Jan. 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Next week, representatives of Tempe, Maricopa County and Arizona State University are scheduled to meet to discuss the pending closure of the city's two justice courts.

As was noted here a month ago, the chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, the presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors want to move Tempe's justice courts to Chandler.

Why? Because, among other things, appellate, superior and municipal court judges need law degrees to qualify to serve on the bench. Justices of the peace do not. That fact drives the rest of the judiciary nuts.

As such, their aim and the aim of justice court consolidation is the "virtual" (if not the actual) elimination of justice courts tied to the communities they now serve. The goal is to punish and rein in justices of the peace and break each community's allegiance to its respective justice courts under the guise of improved efficiency and fiscal restraint.

(Never mind that Tempe's two justice courts handle more cases per year than any two dozen Maricopa County Superior Court judges combined.)

Once upon a time, for a period of six years, it was my pleasure to serve on the Arizona Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Performance Review.

We conducted performance evaluations of the Superior Court judges in Maricopa and Pima counties, the members of the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court.

Let me assure you, those folks are no less wacky than the justices of the peace they hold in such contempt (no pun intended). You should see and hear what we read and heard.

Justice court consolidation raises several issues that its proponents have consistently refused to address.

All protestations to the contrary, not one public hearing has been held on this matter. No effort has been made to inform Tempe residents of the pending loss of their two justice courts. That fact is indefensible.

Those who back the consolidation plan insist it will save Maricopa County millions of dollars. That is an assertion that no one can prove. All the county is really doing is shifting its costs to others.

For example, the existing East Tempe Justice Court is 2 miles from ASU. That 4-mile round trip is about to mutate into a 30-mile trip. Folks are going to spend more of their money and time traveling to and from Chandler.

Everyone cited or arrested within Tempe (felonies aside) by any agency other than the Tempe Police Department has their cases adjudicated by Tempe's justice courts. In the future, the employees of these agencies who are called to testify are going to spend a lot more of their tax-subsidized time driving to and from Chandler in their tax-subsidized automobiles.

In fiscal year 2004-05, Tempe's justice courts issued 532 orders of protection and injunctions against harassment. These orders and injunctions are currently served by the constables assigned to the justice courts.

That's going to change.

Rather than travel to Chandler to obtain such orders and injunctions, folks are going to file their complaints in Tempe Municipal Court, the net effect of which will increase the court's caseload. The court is now asking for approval to hire more staff to handle the additional demand.

Furthermore, the members of the Tempe Police Department are now going to spend their time and our dollars serving those orders and injunctions. They're going to become junior constables.

Then there's the issue of justice itself. As elusive as it is, the concept still relies on access. You can't have your day in court if you can't get to the courtroom. Given the distance and inconvenience involved, the number of default judgments is predicted to soar under the consolidation plan.

Meanwhile, against this absurd backdrop and to accommodate population growth in Scottsdale, the jurisdiction of the West Tempe Justice Court has just been extended to Camelback Road (a 40-mile round trip to the proposed Chandler site) and the jurisdiction of the East Tempe Justice Court has been extended to Thomas Road.

Ironically, the county's decision to extend the jurisdiction of Tempe's two justice courts into Scottsdale puts both courts in technical violation of laws limiting the number of people a justice court can serve. How pitifully dumb is that?

It is hoped next week's meeting will produce a compromise that errs on the side of accessible justice and convenient customer service. The current plan does neither.

Dan Durrenberger is a 32-year resident of the Southeast Valley who lives in Tempe and works in Mesa. He can be reached at

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