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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's convictions and sentences arising from his possession of hashish, a form of cannabis resin, holding that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) immunized Defendant's conduct because AMMA's definition of marijuana includes both its dried-leaf/flower form and extracted resin, including hashish. Defendant, a registered qualifying patient under AMMA, was charged with possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia after he was found in possession of a jar containing hashish. Defendant moved to dismiss the charges on the grounds that his use was allowed under AMMA. The trial court denied the motion and convicted Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the definition of marijuana in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 36-2801(8) includes resin, and by extension hashish, and that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 36-2811(B)(1) immunizes the use of such marijuana consistent with AMMA. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this divorce case, the Supreme Court vacated a portion of the divorce decree providing for an order under Koelsch v. Koelsch, 148 Ariz. 176 (1986), holding that federal law does not permit a state court to order a military spouse to pay the equivalent of military retirement benefits to a former spouse if the military spouse continues to work past an eligible retirement date. When the parties divorced, Husband was still an active duty service member. The trial judge ordered Husband, if he chose to work beyond his retirement eligibility date, to begin making payments to Wife equivalent to what she would have received as her share of Husband's military retirement pay (MRP) had Husband retired. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that federal law precluded such indemnification. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that state courts cannot order service members to make MRP-based payments to former spouses before retirement. View "Barron v. Barron" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the summary judgment in favor of Encanto Adventures LLC on Marcie Normandin's premises liability claim, holding that Encanto was not immunized by Arizona's recreational use statute, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 33-1551, for injuries Normandin, a recreational user, sustained after falling in Encanto Park. The trial court granted summary judgment for Encanto based on the recreational use immunity provided by section 33-1551(A). The court of appeals affirmed, concluding, among other things, that Encanto was immune as a "manager" under section 33-1551(A). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Encanto was not a "manager" of land used for recreational purposes and, therefore, was not immune from liability under the statute. View "Normandin v. Encanto Adventures, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court explained its March 20, 2019 order affirming the trial court's decision enjoining a recall election of Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, holding that the trial court did not err in ruling that the recall petition did not comply with Ariz. Rev. 19-202.01(D) and -203(D) because the petition sheets were not attached to a time-and-date-marked copy of the recall application. Displeased with Nowakowski's conduct as a councilman, some electors from District 7 of the City of Phoenix sought to initiate a recall election. Urban Phoenix Project PAC (the Committee) later submitted a recall petition to the Phoenix City Clerk for verification. The City Clerk certified that the petition had sufficient signatures to be on the ballot for the March 2019 election. Plaintiff challenged the recall petition. The trial court ruled that the recall was not eligible to be placed on the ballot because the Committee had failed to comply with the statutory requirements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Arizona Constitution guarantees voters the right to recall elected officers, but that right must be exercised pursuant to constitutional and statutory provisions; and (2) the signatures could not be certified because none of the Committee's petition sheets were attached to the complete time-and-date-marked application. View "Morales v. Archibald" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the family court's orders to the extent those orders appointed and granted authority to specific treatment professionals for the child in this case and otherwise limited Father's sole legal decision-making authority, holding that the family court exceeded its authority. Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 25-410(A), when a family court designates one parent as the sole legal decision-maker for a child, the court may limit the decision-maker's authority only to prevent endangering the child's physical health or significantly impairing the child's emotional development. Upon the parties' divorce in this case, the family court awarded Father final legal decision-making authority concerning their child's education and medical and dental care. The current dispute arose over the parties' handling of the child's gender identification. Eventually, the family court appointed a specific treating therapist for the child and a consulting expert for the court and parties, with attendant restraints on Father's authority. The Supreme Court vacated the family court's orders, holding (1) section 25-410(A) did not authorize the court's appointment orders; and (2) neither Ariz. Rev. Stat. 25-405(B) nor Arizona Rule of Family Law Procedure 95(A) authorized the family court to appoint the professionals as "consulting experts." View "Paul E. v. Courtney F." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the portion of the order of the Arizona Corporation Commission requiring a public utility to apply for Commission approval of a proposed condemnation, holding that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 40-285(A) does not give the Commission power over a city's exercise of eminent domain. Section 40-285(A) gives the Commission authority to approve the sale or disposition of a public service corporation's assets. In the instant case, voters authorized and the city council approved the filing of a condemnation action by the City of Surprise of condemning substantially all the assets of Circle City Water Company, LLC, including the right to four thousand acre-feet of water per year from the Central Arizona Project (CAP). A residential developer asked the Commission to enter an order preventing the "sale" of Circle City's CAP allocation to the City. The Commission ordered Circle City to file an application under section 40-285 seeking Commission authorization to "dispose of" its utility. The Supreme Court vacated the order in part, holding that the Commission has no authority to regulate condemnations under section 40-285(A). View "City of Surprise v. Arizona Corporation Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) statutory scheme, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 36-2901 to -2999.57, abrogates and creates an exception to Arizona’s statutory physician-patient privilege, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-4062(4), in cases of suspected AHCCCS fraud. Defendant was convicted of defrauding AHCCCS for lying about having cancer so her abortion would fall within the exception to the rule that AHCCCS does not cover abortions except when necessary to save a woman’s life or to protect her health. On appeal, Defendant argued that the superior court erred by admitting her medical records and by allowing her physicians to testify against her. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the AHCCCS statutes abrogated the physician-patient privilege in cases of suspected AHCCCS fraud. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the legislature’s grant of brand authority to AHCCCS to investigate suspected fraud necessarily implies an exception to the privilege for internal AHCCCS investigations and proceedings; and (2) the AHCCCS statutes implicitly abrogate the privilege in the criminal investigation and prosecution of suspected AHCCCS fraud because the provisions at issue exhibit an intent to provide law enforcement access to patient information when investigating and prosecuting AHCCCS fraud. View "State v. Zeitner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s ruling that reversed the municipal court’s grant of Petitioner’s motion to suppress, holding that, apart from any constitutional considerations, Arizona’s implied consent statute does not require that an arrestee’s agreement to submit to a breath test be voluntary. In her motion to suppress, Petitioner argued that her consent was not voluntary under either the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution or Ariz. Rev. Stat. 28-1321, Arizona’s implied consent statute. The municipal court concluded that Petitioner’s consent to testing was involuntary, found the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule inapplicable, and granted Petitioner’s motion to suppress. The superior court reversed, holding that consent to testing was involuntary but that the good-faith exception was applicable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statutory requirement of “express agreement to testing” does not equate to or necessarily imply a voluntary consent requirement. View "Diaz v. Honorable Deborah Bernini" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress results of a blood test he submitted to after he was arrested for driving under the influence, holding that Defendant’s consent was not involuntary under the Fourth Amendment. Before Defendant was asked if he would submit to a blood test, the police officer told Defendant his driving privileges would be suspended if he refused. Defendant moved to suppress the blood test results, arguing that under State v. Valenzuela, 239 Ariz. 299 (2016) (Valenzuela II), his consent was involuntary. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, unlike the officer in Valenzuela II, the officer in the instant case did not tell Defendant he was required to submit to the test, and the officer’s identifying the consequences of refusal before asking whether Defendant would submit to the testing did not in itself establish that Defendant’s consent was involuntary. View "State v. De Anda III" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals in this class action, holding that the surcharge imposed by Maricopa County on car rental agencies to fund a stadium and other sports and tourism-related ventures violated neither the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution nor the anti-diversion provision of the Arizona Constitution. Plaintiff, which rented vehicles in Maricopa County and paid the car rental surcharges, sued the Arizona Department of Revenue seeking refunds and injunctive relief for all similarly situated car rental companies. The tax court certified the class and granted summary judgment for Plaintiff, concluding that the surcharge did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause but did violate the anti-diversion provision. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the surcharge did not violate the anti-diversion provision. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that the Arizona Constitution’s anti-diversion clause, which requires that revenues derived from taxes relating to the operation of motor vehicles must be allocated for public highways, does not apply to a tax relating to the operation of motor vehicles. View "Saban Rent-a-Car LLC v. Arizona Department of Revenue" on Justia Law