Justia Arizona Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

By
The police conducted a pat-down search of Defendant based on the dangerousness of the area in which he was found and the flight of one of Defendant’s companions. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress, concluding that the search was proper. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and reversed Defendant’s conviction of misdemeanor marijuana possession, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances of this case, the police did not have an individualized reasonable suspicion that Defendant was engaged in criminal activity and that Defendant was armed and dangerous sufficient to justify the pat-down search. View "State v. Primous" on Justia Law

By
The Supreme Court reversed the postconviction court’s grant of relief to Appellant. The postconviction court set aside Defendant’s death sentence for the murder of Holly Iler, finding ineffective assistance of counsel and a due process violation. The court ordered a new aggravation and penalty phase sentencing trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the evidence did not establish ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) on any of Defendant’s multiple IAC claims, and no aggregate IAC occurred here; and (2) the postconviction court erred in finding a due process violation based on testimony by the State’s medical expert because the expert did not present objectively false or misleading testimony. View "State v. Pandeli" on Justia Law

By
Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-707(B) does not require a repeat class one misdemeanor conviction to be both classified and sentenced as a class six felony. Defendant was convicted of the same class 1 misdemeanor of disorderly conduct in both 2012 and 2013. The trial court classified Defendant’s two 2013 convictions as class six felonies pursuant to section 13-707(B) and sentenced him as a category three repetitive felony offender. The Supreme Court modified Defendant’s disorderly conduct convictions and designated them as class one misdemeanors, holding that the trial court committed fundamental error when it classified Defendant’s 2013 disorderly conduct convictions as class six felonies and sentenced him as a category three repetitive felony offender. View "State v. Gulley" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
The Arizona Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s award of attorney fees to Plaintiff and its ruling that Plaintiff was the “prevailing party” in the proceedings below. Before trial, Defendant made a settlement offer of $1,000,001. Plaintiff rejected the offer and, later, obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $10,733. Because a fee award provision in a contract between the parties did not itself define “prevailing party” but did incorporate Arizona law to determine the parties’ rights and remedies, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-341.01(A) applied for the purpose of determining the successful party. Because the final judgment was more favorable to Defendant than its pretrial offer, Plaintiff was not entitled to recover any fees incurred after the offer under section 12-341.01(A). The court remanded to the trial court to apportion fees and costs between the parties. View "American Power Products, Inc. v. CSK Auto, Inc." on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
The Supreme Court held that governmental entities’ contract-based actions, including claims for indemnification, that fall within Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-552(A) are subject to the eight-year statute of repose, notwithstanding Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-510, which provides that claims by governmental entities are generally not barred by statutes of limitations, or the common law doctrine known as “nullum tempos occurit regi” (time does not run against the king). Carlos Tarazon sued the City of Phoenix after he developed mesothelioma while working on projects for the City. The City filed a third-party complaint against eight-two developers and eight contractors, seeking indemnification. The superior court granted the motions to dismiss filed by the Developers and Contractors, ruling that section 12-552(A) applied to bar the City’s claims. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the statute of repose applied for the Contractors having the requisite contractual relationship with the City; but (2) the statute of repose did not apply for the Developers whose only relationship with the City was as permittees. View "City of Phoenix v. Glenayre Electronics, Inc." on Justia Law

By
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce loaned Dobson Bay Club II DD, LLC and related entities (Dobson Bay) $28.6 million for Dobson Bay’s purchase of commercial properties. The loan was secured by a deed of trust encumbering the properties. Under the terms of a promissory note, as a consequence for any delay in payment, Dobson Bay was required to pay, in addition to regular interest, default interest and collection costs and a five percent late fee assessed on the payment amount. When Dobson Bay failed to make the required payments, La Sonrisa de Siena, LLC, which bought the note and deed of trust, noticed a trustee’s sale of the secured properties, arguing that Dobson Bay owed more than $30 million, including a nearly $1.4 million late fee. At issue during the ensuing trial was whether the note was an enforceable liquidated damages provision. The superior court concluded that the late fee was enforceable as liquidated damages. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and reversed the trial court’s partial summary judgment in favor of La Sonrisa on the liquidated damages claim, holding that an approximately $1.4 million late fee is unreasonable and an unenforceable penalty. View "Dobson Bay Club II DD, LLC v. La Sonrisa De Siena, LLC" on Justia Law

By
After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder. Defendant moved for a new trial under Ariz. R. Crim. P. 24.1(c)(1). The trial court granted the motion for a new trial, concluding that the guilty verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence. After independently examining the evidence, the court of appeals reversed, concluding that the jury properly weighed the evidence and the verdict was not a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s order granting a new trial, holding (1) the court of appeals exceeded the proper scope of deferential appellate review by independently reweighing the evidence rather than determining if substantial evidence supported the trial judge’s ruling; and (2) substantial evidence existed to support the trial court’s determination. View "State v. Fischer" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder. Following the guilty verdict, Defendant moved for a new trial under Ariz. R. Crim. P. 24.1(c)(1). The trial court granted the motion for a new trial, determining that the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence. After independently examining the evidence, the court of appeals reversed, concluding that the jury properly weighed the evidence and its verdict was not a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court vacated in part the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed the order granting a new trial, holding (1) the court of appeals exceeded the proper scope of appellate review by independently reweighing the evidence rather than determining if substantial evidence supported the trial judge’s ruling; and (2) substantial evidence existed to support the trial court’s determination. View "State v. Fischer" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Defendant was charged with possession or use of marijuana. At a settlement conference, Defendant agreed to participate in a drug treatment program through the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) in return for the State deferring the prosecution. Defendant then made a set of statements to TASC regarding his offense. The State later resumed the prosecution because Defendant had failed to attend TASC seminars and had tested positive for alcohol and marijuana while in the TASC program. Defendant moved to suppress the statements he gave to TASC, arguing that they were made during plea discussions and were therefore protected by Ariz. R. Evid. 410(a)(4). The trial court denied the motion. The court then found Defendant guilty. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Defendant’s statements were not protected by Rule 410(a)(4). The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed Defendant’s conviction, holding that Rule 410(a)(4) does not apply to deferred prosecution agreements and that a knowing waiver of its provisions does not require specifically referencing the rule. View "State v. Gill" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
The Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) operates a defined-benefit plan for state employees and participating political subdivisions. The City of Chandler operated a deferred-compensation plan in which it contributed money for its employees and permitted employees to defer additional amounts, which were held in trust until distributed to employees, generally at age seventy and one-half. Mary Wade and Marla Paddock, City employees, filed a complaint against ASRS and others on behalf of themselves, arguing that City-contributed payments into the deferred-compensation-plan trust constituted “compensation” for the purpose of calculating ASRS contributions and benefits. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the City. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the term “salary” included the City’s regular contributions to the deferred-compensation-plan. The Supreme Court largely affirmed, holding that the City’s contractually required contributions into the deferred-compensation-plan trust for the benefit of its employees formed part of their salary and was “compensation” under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 38-711(7). View "Wade v. Arizona State Retirement System" on Justia Law