Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the provision in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 36-2901.08(A) that the director of Arizona’s indigent health care program, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), “shall establish, administer and collect an assessment” from Arizona hospitals (the hospital assessment). The legislature added this provision to fund the costs remaining after federal monies to expand coverage under AHCCCS, as provided for in H.B. 2010, which the legislature enacted in 2013 by a simple majority vote. The Supreme Court held that the hospital assessment is not subject to Ariz. Const. art. IX, 22, which generally requires that acts providing for a net increase in state revenues be approved by a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature, because the exception set forth in Ariz. Const. art. IX, 22(C)(2) that the above requirement does not apply to statutorily authorized assessments that “are not prescribed by formula, amount or limit, and are set by a state officer or agency” applied in this case. View "Biggs v. Betlach" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first degree murder but vacated his death sentence and remanded for a new penalty phase proceeding in order to comply with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Lynch v. Arizona, 578 U.S. __ (2016) ("Lynch II"). Defendant, an inmate, killed the victim, another inmate, while the two men were in their cell. The court held (1) the trial court did not commit fundamental error by electing testimony about a statement Defendant made to a corrections officer through a juror’s question; (2) the trial court acted within its discretion by finding that the probative value of graphic photos admitted into evidence was not outweighed by any prejudicial effect; (3) sufficient evidence existed for a jury to find that Defendant murdered the victim in an especially heinous or depraved manner; (4) Lynch II compels the conclusion that the trial court erred by failing to tell the jury that Defendant was ineligible for parole, and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (5) the jury did not abuse its discretion in imposing the death penalty. View "State v. Rushing" on Justia Law

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In this criminal case, Petitioner, who was charged with sex offenses and released with several pretrial release conditions, argued that the conditions were improper. The Supreme Court held (1) the Arizona Constitution, statutes, and rules authorize the trial court to impose upon Petitioner pretrial release conditions requiring that he reside apart from his family and that he have no unsupervised contact with his minor non-victim children; these conditions, however, must comply with Ariz. R. Crim. P. 7.2(a) and 7.3(b), which require release conditions to be “the least onerous” that are “reasonable and necessary to protect other persons or the community”; and (2) Neither Arizona law nor the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution require a trial court to hold an evidentiary hearing to impose or reconsider a pretrial release condition; however, the trial court must make an individualized determination supported by findings sufficient for appellate review concerning whether the pretrial release conditions are the least onerous measures reasonable and necessary to protect Petitioner’s children. View "Samiuddin v. Honorable Richard Nothwehr" on Justia Law

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Applying Ariz. R. Juv. Ct. P. 64(C) in pretrial proceedings does not conflict with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 8-863(C) in violation of the separation of powers required by Ariz. Const. art. III. After the juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights Mother appealed, arguing that Rule 64(C), which authorizes the court to proceed to a final termination hearing when a parent fails to appear without good cause at a pretrial conference, conflicts with section 8-863(C), which addresses the consequences for a parent’s failure to appear at a hearing and thus violates separation of powers principles. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that rule 64(C) does not enlarge or diminish any substantive rights granted by section 8-863(C), and therefore, there is no separation of powers violation. View "Marianne N. v. Department of Child Safety" on Justia Law

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The statutory presumption set forth in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 25-814(A)(1) that a man is presumed to be a legal parent if his wife gives birth to a child during the marriage applies to couples in same-sex marriages. After Kimberly McLaughlin and Suzan McLaughlin were married in California, Kimberly gave birth to a baby boy, E. When E. was almost two years old, Kimberly moved out of the parties’ home, taking E. with her. Thereafter, Suzan filed petitions for dissolution and for legal decision-making and parenting time in loco parentis. Suzan also challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s refusal to recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed in other states. Based on Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. __ (2015), the trial court concluded that Kimberly could not rebut Suzan’s presumptive parentage under section 25-814(C). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Suzan was a presumed parent under section 25-814(A)(1) and that Kimberly was equitably estopped from rebutting Suzan’s presumptive parentage of their son. View "McLaughlin v. Honorable Lori B. Jones" on Justia Law

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The state may constitutionally prohibit a city’s practice, prescribed by local ordinance, of destroying firearms that the city obtains through forfeiture or as unclaimed property. In 2005, the City of Tucson passed an ordinance that enacted Tucson Code 2-142, which provides that the police “shall dispose” of unclaimed and forfeited firearms “by destroying” them. In 2013, the legislature amended two statutes governing the destruction of firearms - Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-3108(F) and 12-945(B). Concluding that the ordinance conflicts with section 13-3108(F), the Attorney General filed this special action. The Supreme Court held (1) sections 12-945(B) and 13-3108(F) control over the conflicting municipal ordinance regarding destruction of firearms; (2) the legislature may require the Attorney General to investigate and file a special action in the Supreme Court regarding alleged violations of the state law; (3) the Supreme Court has mandatory jurisdiction to resolve whether the allegedly conflicting ordinance violates state law; and (4) the state laws displace Tucson Code 2-142. View "State ex rel. Brnovich v. City of Tucson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Proposition 206, “The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act,” which increased the minimum wage and established earn paid sick leave, does not violate the Arizona Constitution’s Revenue Source Rule, Separate Amendment Rule, or Single Subject Rule. Proposition 206 was approved by the Arizona electorate in the November 2016 election. The Proposition increases Arizona’s minimum wage incrementally over a three-year period and then requires annual increases. It also requires employers to provide mandatory sick leave of one hour for every thirty hours worked. Petitioners filed suit seeking a declaration that Proposition 206 is unconstitutional and also sought to preliminarily enjoin implementation and enforcement of the Proposition. The superior court denied a preliminary injunction. Petitioner subsequently sought special action relief with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that Proposition 206 does not violate the identified provisions in the Arizona Constitution. View "Arizona Chamber of Commerce v. Honorable Daniel J. Kiley" on Justia Law

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In this case involving substantial consequences for alleged violations of campaign finance laws, the same individual issued the initial decision finding violations and ordering remedies, participated personally in the prosecution of the case before an administrative law judge, and then made the final agency decision that would receive only deferential review. The court of appeals concluded that because Appellants made no showing of actual bias their due process rights were not violated by the individual’s role as both advocate and adjudicator. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals, holding that, although Appellants did not allege actual bias, the circumstances of this case deprived them of due process, as Appellants were entitled to a determination by a neutral decisionmaker. Remanded. View "Horne v. Polk" on Justia Law

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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

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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