Special Saturday Court in Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF – The Flagstaff Justice Court and the Superior Court Clerk of the Court will hold a special Saturday Court, from 9 a.m. to noon, September 16 at the Superior Court/Flagstaff Justice Court building, 200 N. San Francisco Street.

Justice of the Peace Howard Grodman, Clerk of Superior Court Valerie Wyant and Chairwoman of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, Liz Archuleta initiated the Saturday Court services so people can receive court services who normally can’t during the standard operating hours.

Individuals with outstanding warrants can appear before the judge and resolve pending legal issues. Only customers with cases from the Flagstaff Justice Court will be assisted during this event. People with pending warrants from another court should call the appropriate issuing court to discuss options.

Service windows will be open for people to pay court fees and fines by setting up payment plans or reestablishing a payment plan already in place for pending cases.

The Clerk of Superior Court’s Office will also be open to file paperwork, apply for a passport or obtain a marriage license.

For questions please contact Maia Rodriguez at the Flagstaff Justice Court at 928-679-7675.

AzCourtHelp.org earns international award

FLAGSTAFF — The National Association for Court Managers (NACM), in partnership with the International Association for Court Administration (IACA), awarded AzCourtHelp.org top honors for this year’s top 10 Court Technology Solutions Awards.

The awards are given each year to recognize courts that make the best use of technology to improve courts’ service and access to the public. AZCourtHelp.org was selected to receive the award over entries from Dubai, Rwanda and several other states within the U.S.

“I want to congratulate the courts for this great achievement and receiving this worldwide recognition,” said Chairwoman Liz Archuleta. “It is the court system’s innovative ideas and dedication to the community which continually make our system more efficient and more accessible for everyone.”

AzCourtHelp.org offers free assistance to people who need help resolving disputes or have legal questions regarding divorce and custody, landlord/tenant issues, civil dispute and criminal charges. Residents outside of Flagstaff can participate due to an onsite and virtual legal self-help program which helps save time, effort and money to more fully understand their legal rights and obligations. It’s also helpful to self-represented litigants who would not have access to legal resources in their area.

Coconino County Superior Court and the Law Library are major stakeholders of AzCourtHelp.org and selected to pilot this program because of available resources and previous success with innovative programs. Other stakeholders that contributed to the development include:

• Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts
• The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education
• Arizona State Library, Archives, & Public Records
• The Office of the Arizona Attorney General
• The Department of Economic Security’s Division of Child Support Services

Free live webinars on popular topics are available at AzCourtHelp.org/public-events or you may attend in person at the Coconino County Law Library.

Superior Court hosts Law Day

FLAGSTAFF – Coconino County Superior Court and DNA Legal Services are hosting Law Day at the Coconino County Courthouse. The proceedings will begin at 8:45 a.m. Friday, May 5, 2017.

This year’s theme is “The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” The theme provides an opportunity to explore the ways the Fourteenth Amendment has shaped American law and society. During Law Day, legal professionals and community leaders educate students on how the Fourteenth Amendment contributes to the freedoms and equal protection for all Americans. The theme is selected by the American Bar Association each year.

Throughout the day, local middle and high school students will participate in Moot Courts. Students prepare, present and argue cases with the assistance of local attorneys in front of a Superior Court Judge.

The Coconino County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation during the April 18 regular meeting declaring May 5, 2017 as Law Day in the County. This was in accordance with the nationally recognized day for commemoration.

The public is encouraged to attend and participate in all activities for this year’s Law Day.

AZGFD considers potential impacts of appellate court ruling on Mexican wolf

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is assessing potential impacts to Arizona’s endangered and threatened wildlife recovery program, following a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that lifts a preliminary injunction on releasing Mexican wolves in New Mexico.

The court decision issued Tuesday held that the State of New Mexico had not met the legal standard for a preliminary injunction because it did not demonstrate that releasing Mexican wolves without state permits will cause irreparable injury to the state. The ruling reverses a U.S. District Court decision last summer that prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from importing or releasing any Mexican wolves in New Mexico without first obtaining permits from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department are evaluating the potential ramifications of the Appellate Court’s decision for Arizona’s wolf recovery program,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director for Wildlife Management. “Our agency remains committed to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and our other partners to ensure Arizona has a voice in providing direction for the program, based on sound science and boots-on-the-ground research.”

The case now returns to U.S. District Court for a decision on whether New Mexico can require the USFWS to obtain state permits before releasing wolves.

There were a minimum of 113 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico in 2016, according to a recent survey by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team. The survey found that there were 63 wolves in Arizona and 50 in New Mexico.

In 2015, there were an estimated 97 wolves were counted in the wild between both states.

Williams City Council sends Justice Court IGA back for more study

williams-justice-courtWILLIAMS — The Williams City Council considered a proposal to revise the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Williams Justice Court at the meeting on Thursday the 14th. The proposal was to provide more money for the addition of a bailiff and a 2.5% merit raise for the county employees acting on behalf of the city.

The City of Williams has the authority to conduct its own city court business for violations of Williams ordinances. The city could hire its own magistrate, impose and collect fines and so-forth. The Williams Justice Court provides these services to the city under the terms of the IGA for a cost. The original IGA did not account for the services of a bailiff or merit raises for employees.

Under the proposed revisions to the IGA, the city would pay 25% of the services of the bailiff added to the Williams Justice Court. This would add approximately $5,550 annually to the agreement. The position of bailiff was added without consulting the City of Williams.

Judge Krombeen explained that the bailiff position was necessary because the court occasionally reviews cases where disputing parties may become violent. The Williams Police Department may not be able to provide security in those cases. Judge Krombeen explained that the court was responsible for security.

While many cases are heard via video link with the Flagstaff Detention Center, there are cases where the defendant has been released on bail to appear in court at a later date. For example, in a domestic dispute situation, the police will usually take one of the parties into custody for safety, but that person may be released on bail. Both of the disputing parties would then appear in person for the court date creating a possible situation in the court.

Judge Krombeen explained,

“But the protective orders and the other types of cases that we are dealing with on a weekly basis are the bigger portion of the reality of the challenge that we face.

We keep a log of all of the weapons that the bailiff has taken off of folks coming into the court room over the last three-years and its a surprising number. I think I reported in the previous report we’ve had someone show up with swords in the court and we’ve had a number of incidents; crimes committed. Victims have been victimized at the court house and I’ve reported that information to you in the last couple of years.”

The City Council did not necessarily object to adding the bailiff. In fact Councilman Lee Payne indicated that he was surprised that there was not a State law requiring a bailiff.

Vice Mayor Don Dent said after the meeting that the council receives reports from the police department daily and he was surprised to see an increase in domestic violence cases in Williams.

The 2.5% merit raise was a major concern to the Council. The City Council agreed that it was an oversight on the part of the IGA, but they were concerned about the figure and the fact that they had no oversight into the merit increases as they do with other city employees.

Another point of contention was that if the city agreed to a flat 2.5% each year and the county pay raise was less than that figure, where would the extra money go? They were concerned that they could not account for the expenditures of money if they paid the 2.5% and the merit increase for the year was less than that.

Councilman Payne said that it would be hard to explain to city employees why the City is paying for a flat 2.5% pay raise for the county employees conducting city business when they might only be able to give proper city employees less of a pay raise or no pay raise at all for that same year.

Judge Krombeen pointed out that there were no city employees at the Williams Justice Center, but county employees conducting city business.

Vice Mayor Don Dent suggested that the IGA should read that the City of Williams would pay whatever the merit raise for the county is each year up to the 2.5%, but not obligate to a fixed 2.5% figure.

Councilman Craig Fritsinger summed up the council position.

“I won’t sign that,” he said. “I won’t agree to that and I don’t think anyone on the council would agree to that. From my perspective, what you said is perfectly appropriate. I would like to have you bring back a re-written document that eliminates that two-and-a-half every year. We can’t explain that to the pubic, to the newspaper, to our employees…. So change it. Bring it back. We’ll work on it.”

The Council voted to table the IGA and have Councilmen Bernie Hiemenz, Jim Wurgler and Frank McNelly work with the City Manager to study the proposal and return with a more equitable proposal for the city.
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At the meeting the city councilman unanimously voted to approve the 2015-2016 budget. They also agreed to accept a Joint Project Agreement to conduct pavement maintenance on the runway at H.A. Clark Memorial Field. According to Brandon Buchanan, the city would be responsible for 10% of the cost of the repair.

“We would be responsible for ten-percent of that which would be $98,000 of the almost nine-million dollar cost of the project,” Buchanan said.

Stand Down a success despite the weather

Arizona Veterans Standdown Alliance photo.

Arizona Veterans Standdown Alliance photo.

FLAGSTAFF — The third High Country Stand Down at the Flagstaff National Guard Armory seems to have been a success. Despite the weather, District 4 Supervisor Mandy Metzger said that about 125 veterans came through the door just after opening. The event is organized by Philan Tree, assistant to Mandy.

The High Country Stand Down is a branch of the larger Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance (Facebook). For the last three years the High Country Stand Down has been growing.

The event this year is dedicated to Flagstaff Marine Lance Davison, who suffered from PTSD and traumatic brain injury and took his own life in February 2014. Davison is one of the roughly 22 veterans who commit suicide in this country each day, or one every 65 minutes, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Stand Down is a collection of services and gifts for homeless veterans and veterans in need. The tables and services all reflect the services available to veterans all year around.

Some of the services, such as the pet care provided at the event, are not just for veterans. Aspen Veterinary Clinic provided check-ups and medical services for pets. The Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic of Flagstaff gave free vaccines. Many of the local veterans seemed to be taking advantage of this service. One family brought in two dogs and about five cats to be vaccinated.

Another service that anyone who resided in Coconino County should be aware of, and take advantage of, is the Downwinder’s Program. The North Count Healthcare system presented their radiation exposure screening and education (RESEP) program. If you lived in Coconino County—and other certain areas of Nevada, Utah or Arizona—from 1959 to 1962, you may be eligible for compensation due to the nuclear weapons testing in Nevada. The Northern Arizona Health Care system provides free screening for people who lived in those regions during that period for cancer and other anomalies that might have been a result of those tests. They even help you file the paperwork.

Northern Arizona University provided dental technicians for dental screening and to assist veterans in filing paperwork for dental work needed.
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The Salvation Army provided hamburgers, hotdogs and chips for the event. They also gave out sack lunches.

One important feature of the event for the last two-years was the Veterans Court. The Veterans Court is called a therapeutic court in the legal system and is available to veterans all year round. This special court was set up at the event solely to quash pending warrants and allow veterans to get their cases moving in the Veterans Court system. This is not the way the normal court works.

Judge Cathleen Nichols, of Coconino Superior Court Division 5, is the coordinator for the Veterans Court. There are two other therapeutic courts for DUIs and mental health issues which work in similar fashion.

Judge Nichols explained that in the normal course of an arrest, the fact that a defendant is a veteran may enter into the paperwork. If it does not, the veteran may identify himself. Self-identification does require the veteran to prove service, such as a DD-214 or retired identification card. This is particularly useful in misdemeanor cases where a defendant is usually not represented by a lawyer.

Once a veteran is identified, the case is reviewed by the office of the County Attorney to see if they can allow it to be referred to the Veterans Court. The attorney of the defendant is also consulted if he has one. It is up to the defendant to decide if they choose to take this course. It does not allow the veteran to “get away” with anything. The veteran will have to agree to probation with all that entails. They may also be required to attend certain classes or programs and report their progress to the court.

Judge Nichols pointed out two unusual features of this therapeutic court in the Coconino County Superior Court system. First is that the veteran does not necessarily have to have an honorable discharge. A person with a convenience of the government or other type discharge may be considered for the Veterans Court. The second feature is that this is the only court system in the State that currently considers felony cases.

The High Country Stand Down also provided back packs stocked with sleeping bags and hygiene kits. They also provided new shoes and the Goodwill Industries provided free clothing for the homeless veterans.

Any organization or corporation which may be able to provide services or products to veterans may participate in the program. To be involved in the Fourth Annual High Country Stand Down, contact Philan Tree at the office of Mandy Metzger at 928-679-7154. For other areas you can consult the Arizona Stand Down Alliance web site.

Williams Justice Center holds Law Day event

640-LawDay05-07-01WILLIAMS — All of the law enforcement agencies of the State represented themselves, yesterday, in gathering to celebrate Law Day.

Law Day is May 1. Justice Robert Krombeen explained that several events were being held in Flagstaff, so he decided to hold the Williams event yesterday.

Representatives were available for questions from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Coconino County Sheriff’s Department, Arizona Game and Fish, and Williams Police Department.

The Coconino County Sheriff set up a display for the Coconino Emergency Response Team. The Law Enforcement agencies also brought in a few of the vehicles they use in the performance of their duties including the DPS helicopter.

The idea of Law Day was originally proposed by the American Bar Association in 1957. In 1958 on May 1, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a proclamation declaring May 1 of that year as Law Day to honor the role of law in the creation of the United States. Congress created the the observance of the date annually in 1961.

Officers of Arizona Game and Fish and Department of Public Safety at the Game and Fish display.

Officers of Arizona Game and Fish and Department of Public Safety at the Game and Fish display.


CERT display by Sheriff's Department.

CERT display by Sheriff’s Department.


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High Country Stand Down for Veterans next Friday

stand-down-logoFLAGSTAFF — The 3rd Annual High Country Stand Down for Veterans will be held Friday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event provides services to homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.

Along with a hot meal, the volunteers of the event will provide hygiene kits, Haircuts, clothing and survival gear. For pets they will provide pet food and pet care. Legal assistance, notary services will also be available along with dental, vision and medical care.

The High Country Stand Down will be held at the Flagstaff Armory, 320 N. Thorpe Road in Flagstaff next to Thorpe Park.

Coconino County Board of Supervisors meet tomorrow in support of illegal immigration

300-illegal-alienFLAGSTAFF — The Coconino County Board of Supervisors will be conducting a special executive session (PDF) tomorrow at 10 a.m. on the first floor board room in Flagstaff. The location is 219 E. Cherry Avenue.

In this session the Board of Supervisors will discuss the possibility of filing an amicus brief in support of President Obama and the defendants in Texas v. United States, No. 1:14-cv-254 (PDF). This is case in which a Texas federal judge ordered a cease to executive orders stopping deportation of illegal aliens. The case is in the 5th Circuit Court while Arizona is part of the 9th Circuit Court.

The session is an executive session, which means there will be no discussion allowed by the public.

Texas and 13 other States and several governors have filed suit against the United States representatives who have decided not to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress.

Arizona never denied licenses to immigrants

Across the country headlines are reading that the Ninth Circuit court blocked Arizona from denying licenses to immigrants. This is, of course, a lie. The decision of ARIZONA DREAM ACT COALITION V. JANICE BREWER (PDF) blocks the executive order of Jan Brewer ordering the Arizona Department of Transportation not to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens.

Brewer noted in a response to the Ninth Circuit court ruling that Arizona Revised Statute 28-3153, Subsection D forbids the Arizona Department of Transportation from issuing licenses to anyone who cannot prove they are here in accordance with federal law. Immigrants — who are those here legally applying for citizenship or by other authorized means such as a work visa — can get a license in Arizona. The law forbids issuing licenses to illegal aliens.

The Ninth Circuit Court stated in their decision:

The federal government has enacted a program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (“DACA”), which authorizes certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, without permission, to remain in the United States. In response, Arizona officials — Defendants here — implemented a policy that prevents DACA recipients from obtaining Arizona driver’s licenses.

The “federal government” — so-called by the Ninth Circuit court. They are referring to the national government in Washington D. C. — never enacted such a program. The Department of Homeland Security page on DACA states:

Over the past three years, this Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform the immigration enforcement system…

The DACA program was started by Executive Order to contravene United States Code. It is not based on law authorized by Congress. On July 2d, 33 Republican lawmakers sent a letter (PDF) to the Obama administration demanding that he stop this program and start deporting illegal aliens.

The reponse of Governor Brewer also read, in part:

In 2012, based on President Obama’s lawless directive, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made an administrative policy choice to defer removal proceedings of illegal aliens who were brought to the United States as children, a program referred to as DACA. This policy choice is not federal law authorizing an illegal alien’s presence in the country – it simply is a choice by the executive branch not to enforce deportation proceedings as required under existing federal statute. DHS itself has expressly acknowledged that the DACA Program does not grant any substantive rights and that only Congress can do that.

The DACA Program, the decision to not enforce federal law, has directly led to the massive influx of illegal crossings and the crisis we are witnessing today. If the Ninth Circuit ruling is allowed to stand, the President, as he has already threatened, can contrive a new program refusing to deport the latest arrivals, issue employment authorization cards, and Arizona would have to issue licenses to them as well.

. . .

Lawless decrees by the President demonstrate animus to Congress, states and the Constitution. It is outrageous, though not entirely surprising, that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has once again dealt a blow to Arizona’s ability to enforce its laws. With today’s decision, a three judge appellate panel, appointed by Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama, disregarded judicial precedent and procedure. This continues us down a dangerous path in which the courts and the President – not Congress – make our nation’s laws.

Executive Orders were first issued by President George Washington to explain to cabinet members how to enforce the laws enacted by Congress; not how to circumvent enforcement.

The Constitution give Congress no authority to regulate the issuance of drivers licenses within a State which makes it a Tenth Amendment issue. A law or “order” that violates the Constitution of the United States of America can safely be ignored by States. The policing power of the sovereign States has been established since the Supreme Court decision of Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824).

The decision would mean that Arizona would have to issue licenses to terrorist group members who have come through the Mexican border illegally and are now waiting for “comprehensive immigration reform.” This is especially troubling since Arizona moved to “real ID” licenses which they claimed they would never do. This will give terrorists groups access to airports and flights.