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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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Under Ariz. R. Civ. P. 15(c), an amended complaint naming a new defendant relates back to the original complaint if the newly added defendant knew or should have known the plaintiff mistakenly failed to name him or her as a party in the original complaint. Dianne Flynn, who was injured in a car accident with Sarah Campbell, sued Campbell’s insurance carrier, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, requesting compensatory damages and punitive damages. State Farm moved to dismiss the complaint on the basis that, in Arizona, there is no right of direct action against an insurance carrier for damages claimed as a result of an accident with one of its insureds. Flynn then filed an amended complaint removing State Farm and naming Campbell. Campbell moved to dismiss the amended complaint, arguing that it did not “relate back” under Rule 15(c) and was therefore time-barred. The superior court dismissed the amended complaint. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Flynn’s mistake was cognizable under Rule 15(c) as a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party. View "Flynn v. Campbell" 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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In this criminal case, the prosecutor’s instruction to the grand jury regarding the defense of justification was not erroneous and did not deprive Petitioner of a substantial procedural right. A grand jury indicted Petitioner on two counts of child abuse. Before the Supreme Court, Petitioner argued that he was denied a substantial procedural right because the prosecutor misstated the law regarding justification. Specifically, Petitioner argued that the prosecutor incorrectly advised the grand jurors that they were not allowed to consider whether his use of physical force on his son was justified under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-403(1). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the prosecutor correctly instructed the grand jury on the defense of justification. View "Cespedes v. Honorable Kenneth Lee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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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In this criminal case arising from an incident of domestic violence, the trial court did not err in admitting the testimony of an expert witness that described general behavioral tendencies of adult victims of domestic abuse. Defendant was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault (domestic abuse) and five counts of aggravated domestic violence, among other offenses. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the expert witness’s testimony did not constitute impermissible offender profiling. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the expert witness’s testimony but that trial court should exercise great caution in screening, admitting, and limiting evidence describing the characteristics of offenders. View "State v. Haskie" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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To obtain an area variance, an applicant must show that strictly applying a zoning ordinance will cause “peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties” that deprive a property of privileges enjoyed by other similarly zoned properties. This dispute arose from the City of Phoenix Board of Adjustment’s grant of a variance on a parcel of land in Phoenix. The superior court upheld the variance, finding that the variance was an area variance and not a use variance, that the Board was authorized to consider area variances, and that sufficient evidence supported the Board’s decision. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Board did not act within its authority in granting the variance. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and affirmed the judgment of the superior court, holding (1) the Board acted within its discretion in finding that special circumstances applied to the property; (2) the property owner did not create the special circumstances; (3) the variance required was an area variance that was necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights; and (4) the variance would not be materially detrimental to the surrounding area. View "Pawn 1st, LLC v. City of Phoenix" on Justia Law

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Because the warranty of workmanship and habitability is imputed into every residential construction contract, it is a term of the contract, and therefore, the successful party on a claim for breach of the warranty qualifies for an attorney-fee award under a controlling contractual fee provision or, barring that, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-341.01. Defendants contracted with Plaintiff to build a basement at their home. Defendants refused to pay to the full contract amount after the work was completed, and Plaintiff sued for the unpaid contract amount. Defendants counterclaimed for breach of the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability. The jury found in Defendants’ favor on their claim for breach of the implied warranty. The trial court awarded Defendants attorney fees pursuant to a contractual fee provision and section 12-341.01. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the implied warranty was a term of the contract, and as the successful party in the claim to enforce the warranty, Defendants were entitled to their reasonable attorney fees. View "Sirrah Enterprises, LLC v. Wunderlich" on Justia Law

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The plain language of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 3-1261(B), which provides that no two brands of the same design or figure shall be adopted or recorded, precluded the Arizona Department of Agriculture (Department) from recording “two brands of the same design or figure” regardless of their location. The Department in this case allowed Eureka Springs to record a “bar seven” brand, even though it was identical to a previously recorded brand owned by David Stambaugh, because it was placed on a different location on the cattle. Stambaugh sued the Department. The superior court granted summary judgment in part for the Department, concluding that section 3-1261 gave the Department discretion to consider the location of a brand on an animal in determining whether two brands are of the same design or figure. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that section 3-1261(B) is ambiguous. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute was unambiguous and precluded the Department from adopting or recording identical brands. View "Stambaugh v. Killian" on Justia 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