Justia Arizona Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that neither the United States nor the Arizona Constitution requires a search warrant or court order for a law enforcement officer to obtain either a user's Internet Protocol (IP) address or subscriber information the user voluntarily provides to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) as a condition or attribute of service.Defendant was indicted on twenty counts of sexual exploitation of a minor under fifteen years of age. Defendant filed a motion to suppress on the grounds that the United States Fourth Amendment and Ariz. Const. art. II, 8 required a warrant or court order to obtain his IP address and ISP subscriber information. The motion was denied, and a jury convicted Defendant on all counts. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State lawfully obtained the challenged information with a valid federal administrative subpoena because neither the Fourth Amendment nor article 2, section 8 of the Arizona Constitution requires law enforcement officials to secure a search warrant or court order to obtain IP addresses or subscriber information voluntarily provided to ISPs as a condition or attribute of service. View "State v. Mixton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this premises liability case, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiff was injured when he fell though a skylight on the roof of a commercial building. Plaintiff brought this action against Seacret Direct, LLC (Direct) and Prizma Capital, LLC (Prizma), who sublet portions of the building at the time of the accident, asserting that Defendants were possessors of the roof and therefore owed him a duty to maintain the roof in a safe condition. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendants did not have a right to control the roof under their subleases, did not exercise actual control over the roof, and were not possessors, and therefore, Defendants owed no duty to Plaintiff; (2) Prizma did not become a possessor by making repairs to the roof; and (3) Defendants did not assume a duty to protect Plaintiff from the risk of falling through the skylight. View "Dabush v. Seacret Direct LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court held that court-authorized procedures recognizing foreign country money judgments in a manner similar to Arizona's version of the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-3251 to -3254, can satisfy the Act's reciprocity requirement.The Act authorizes courts to recognize judgments originating from a foreign country with a "reciprocal law" that is "similar" to the Act. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether reciprocity requires a legislative act or if court decisions authorizing such procedures can be recognized. The superior court in this case recognized the judgment under the Act and permitted its enforcement in Arizona. In affirming, the court of appeals rejected the argument that the Act did not apply because the Netherlands did not have a reciprocal, similar legislative act, concluding that the Netherlands' legislatively enabled code of civil procedure, along with court decisions applying it, satisfied the reciprocity requirement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a foreign country's formally recognized and enforced rule that authorizes recognition of Arizona money judgments can be established by a foreign country's caselaw. View "State of Netherlands v. MD Helicopters, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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In this lawsuit brought by the Attorney General against the Arizona Board of Regents challenging certain tuition policies, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court dismissing the action, holding that the Attorney General was not authorized to proceed with its first set of claims but that the trial court erred by granting the motion to dismiss the latter challenge.The Attorney General alleged that the Board's tuition-setting policies violate Ariz. Const. art. XI, 6 and that subsidizing in-state tuition for students who are not lawfully present constitutes an unlawful expenditure of public funds. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the Attorney General lacked authority to bring it. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's decision, holding (1) Ariz. Rev. Stat. 35-212 did not provide a basis for counts I-V, and therefore, the trial court properly dismissed those claims for lack of authority on the part of the Attorney General to prosecute them; and (2) the trial court erred in dismissing count VI because the Attorney General was entitled to prove that, in providing in-state tuition on behalf of students were not not lawfully present, the Board illegally expended funds beyond the amount of tuition collected. View "State ex rel. Brnovich v. Arizona Board of Regents" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the interaction between Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-133, a compulsory arbitration statute, and the Fast Trial and Alternative Resolution (FASTAR) Pilot Program the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Petitioner's motion for arbitration, holding that there was no conflict between the statute and this Court's orders and rules establishing FASTAR.Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking damages against the Tucson Police Department. Plaintiff filed a certificate of compulsory arbitration under section 12-133. Plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to order section 12-133 arbitration, asserting that FASTAR was unconstitutional as applied to her because it denied her right to a trial de novo and appeal following arbitration. The trial court denied the motion and concluded that Plaintiff was not entitled to section 12-133 arbitration. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no conflict exists between section 12-133 and the FASTAR rules. View "Duff v. Honorable Kenneth Lee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court explained its order issued on September 10, 2020 granting Plaintiffs' special action seeking to enjoin the Maricopa County Recorder from including a new overvote instruction with mail-in ballots for the November 3, 2020 general election, holding that the Recorder acted unlawfully by including the new instruction with mail-in ballots.An overvote occurs when a person votes for more candidates than is permitted for a specific election. Before the 2020 election cycle the Recorder included an instruction advising mail-in voters that overvotes would not be counted, and in the even of an overvote, to contact the Recorder's office and request a new ballot. During the 2020 presidential preference and primary elections, however, the Recorder included with mail-in ballots the instruction at issue, which provides that if a mail-in voter makes a "mistake" on his mail-in ballot, rather than obtaining a new ballot, the voter may correct the mistake on his existing ballot. The Supreme Court enjoined the County from including the new instruction with mail-in ballots for the November 3, 2020 general election, holding that the Recorder did not have the authority to promulgate mail-in ballot instructions or to create voter guidelines for correcting overbites to ensure that they will be counted. View "Arizona Public Integrity Alliance v. Fontes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences for first-degree murder and child abuse, holding that no prejudicial error occurred during the trial proceedings.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress; (2) the trial court did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by admitting a pretrial identification of Defendant; (3) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's Batson challenges to the State's peremptory strikes of two jurors; (4) the trial court did not err by admitting a video demonstrating the location and movement of Defendant's and the victim's cellphones on the day of the murder; (5) the trial court did not err by restricting Defendant's cross-examination of the State's former case agent; (6) the trial court did not commit fundamental error by failing to reinstruct the jury at the close of the aggravation stage; (7) substantial evidence supported the jury's finding that Defendant killed the victim for pecuniary gain; (8) the jury was properly instructed; (9) the State did not engage in prosecutorial error; and (10) the jury did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant to death. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's sentences of death, holding that the mitigation evidence was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder. During sentencing, the trial court found three aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt and only one mitigating factor. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death. On review, the Supreme Court found additional mitigating factors but nonetheless upheld Defendant's sentence. Defendant later filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which the federal district court denied. The Ninth Circuit reversed and granted relief, concluding that habeas relief was warranted because the Supreme Court erred in its independent review of the death sentences when considering Defendant's mitigation evidence. The Supreme Court granted the State's motion to conduct a new independent review and affirmed, holding that the mitigating evidence was not sufficient to warrant leniency in light of the three aggravators proven by the State. View "State v. Poyson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals reversing Defendant's conviction on the basis that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to give a Willits instruction under the circumstances of this case, holding that law enforcement's failure to collect putative fingerprint and DNA evidence did not warrant a Willits instruction.Defendant was charged with one count of fleeing from a law enforcement vehicle. Before trial, Defendant requested a Willits instruction, arguing that the State's failure to collect DNA and fingerprint evidence from the vehicle he had allegedly been driving deprived him of a fair trial. The trial court denied the request, and the jury found Defendant guilty. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Defendant was entitled to a Willits instruction. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' opinion and affirmed Defendant's conviction, holding that the State's failure to gather every conceivable piece of physical evidence in this case did not require a Willits instruction. View "State v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court held that the proponents of an initiative, the "Invest in Education Act," complied with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 19-102(A) and gathered enough signatures under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 19-118.01(A) to qualify for the November 3, 2020 general election ballot.Defendant, a political action committee, sought to place the "Invest in Education Act" initiative on the 2020 ballot. Plaintiffs, an elector and a political action committee, opposed the Initiative, claiming that the 100-word description on petition sheets violated section 19-102(A) and that the measure lacked sufficient signatures after removing signatures gathered by petition circulators who were paid in violation of section 19-118.01(A). The superior court enjoined the Secretary of State from certifying and placing the Initiative on the 2020 ballot, finding that the 100-word description on the petition signature sheets failed to comply with section 19-102(A). The Supreme Court reversed the judgment in part, holding that the initiative proponents complied with section 19-102(A) and gathered enough signatures to qualify for the 2020 general election ballot. View "Molera v. Hobbs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law