Arizona Court of Appeals

From Judgepedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Arizona Court of Appeals
Court information
Judges:   22
Judicial selection
Method:   Commission-selection, political appointment
Term:   6 years
Active judges

Patricia Norris  •  Donn Kessler  •  Joseph W. Howard  •  Philip Espinosa  •  Peter Eckerstrom  •  Lawrence Winthrop  •  Margaret Downie  •  Patricia Orozco  •  Garye Vasquez  •  Jon Thompson  •  Diane Johnsen  •  John Gemmill  •  Peter Swann  •  Maurice Portley  •  Virginia C. Kelly  •  Samuel A. Thumma  •  Michael O. Miller  •  Kenton Jones  •  Andrew W. Gould  •  Michael J. Brown  •  Randall M. Howe  •  Kent Cattani  •  

The Arizona Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the State of Arizona. It is divided into two divisions, with a total of twenty-two judges on the court: sixteen in Division One, based in Phoenix, and six in Division Two, based in Tucson.

The court decides the cases that come before it in panels of three judges. These panels are called departments. Each of the three-judge departments has a presiding judge who is elected by the three judges of that department.

When litigants disagree with a decision of this court, they can file an appeal with the Arizona Supreme Court.


JudgeTermAppointed byParty
Judge Patricia Norris2003-2018Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Donn Kessler2003-2018Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Joseph W. Howard1997-2012
Judge Philip Espinosa1992-2018
Judge Peter Eckerstrom1997-2018Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Lawrence Winthrop2002-2016
Judge Margaret Downie2008-2018Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Patricia Orozco2004-2014Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Garye Vasquez2005-2014Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Jon Thompson1997-2016Gov. Fife Symington
Judge Diane Johnsen2006-2014Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge John Gemmill2001-2016Gov. Jane Dee Hull
Judge Peter Swann2008-2018Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Maurice Portley2003-2018
Judge Virginia C. Kelly2009-2018Gov. Jan Brewer
Judge Samuel A. Thumma2012-2014Gov. Jan Brewer
Judge Michael O. Miller12/2012-2018Gov. Jan Brewer
Judge Kenton Jones2013-2016Gov. Jan Brewer
Judge Andrew W. Gould2011-2014Gov. Jan Brewer
Judge Michael J. Brown2007-2016Gov. Janet Napolitano
Judge Randall M. Howe2012-2014Gov. Jan Brewer
Judge Kent Cattani2/8/2013-PresentGov. Jan Brewer

Selection of judges

Judges are selected by the commission/appointment method. The Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments interviews applicants and sends a list of nominees to the governor. The governor is required by law to appoint from this list based on merit, without regard to party affiliation. Judges are then retained for an initial period, after which they are subject to a retention election. If the judge wins the election, his/her term is six years.[1]

Seal of the Arizona Court of Appeals


The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to consider appeals in civil cases from the Arizona Superior Court. The court also reviews juvenile and domestic relations matters from the superior court, workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits decisions, Arizona Tax Court decisions, and certain corporation commission decisions.

The court also has jurisdiction over appeals in criminal matters from superior court, except for cases in which a death sentence has been imposed. Death penalty cases go directly to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The court may also decide "petitions for special action," which is Arizona’s term for petitions for special writs, such as certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.

Deciding cases

The Court of Appeals decides cases in panels of three judges, called "departments". Each department chooses a presiding judge from among the three. Division One also has a Chief Judge and Vice Chief Judge, elected by all judges in the division.

Case load

Division One received 2,676 appeals and special actions in Fiscal Year 2006. In that year, it resolved 2,738 appeals, special actions, and other appellate matters.[1]

Notable cases

Arizona Court of Appeals rules marijuana users able to get DUI even if not impaired

February 13, 2013
The Arizona Court of Appeals' ruling on February 13th focused on two chemical compounds found in blood and urine of marijuana users. One compound is known to impair a driver's senses and a second compound that does not. The second compound, while not impairing the user, still stays in a person's system up to weeks after smoking and is detectable in a blood/urine test. The ruling by the Court of Appeals says that Arizona law applies to both chemical compounds and that as long as marijuana is detectable in your system you can be prosecuted for driving under the influence, even if the person is not actually impaired.

This decision overturns an earlier ruling that stated it didn't make sense to prosecute someone for being under the influence when there is no evidence of impairment.[2]

Court orders sheriff to return confiscated marijuana

January 10, 2013
Marijuana confiscated from a California woman was returned after the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier ruling by a superior court.[3][4]

The marijuana was confiscated at a border checkpoint and the woman was cited for violating Arizona's drug laws. Those charges were dropped after she presented proof of her authorization, which allows for the use and possession of medical marijuana in California and, according to Arizona’s 2010 voter approved medical marijuana law, allows for the possession of two and a half ounces as a visitor in Arizona. The Yuma County Superior Court then ordered the medical marijuana returned, but the sheriff argued that doing so would violate federal drug distribution laws.[3][4]

The case was decided in the Arizona Court of Appeals, where the court ordered the marijuana returned because it should not have been confiscated in the first place. The court also stated that "the Sheriff is immune from prosecution under the federal law for acts taken in compliance with a court order."[3][4]


Portions of this article have been taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Copyright Notice here.


JudgeIncumbencyRetention voteRetention Vote %
KesslerDonn Kessler   ApprovedAYes477,97466.68%ApprovedA
HowardJoseph W. Howard   ApprovedAYes121,06476.59%ApprovedA
DownieMargaret Downie   ApprovedAYes512,26070.06%ApprovedA
PortleyMaurice Portley   ApprovedAYes452,94363.13%ApprovedA
NorrisPatricia Norris   ApprovedAYes507,55769.63%ApprovedA
EckerstromPeter Eckerstrom   ApprovedAYes188,49572.78%ApprovedA
SwannPeter Swann   ApprovedAYes463,78764.67%ApprovedA
EspinosaPhilip Espinosa   ApprovedAYes194,65375.64%ApprovedA
KellyVirginia C. Kelly   ApprovedAYes199,86577.51%ApprovedA

External links

ArizonaArizona Supreme CourtArizona Court of AppealsArizona Superior CourtArizona Justice CourtsArizona Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of ArizonaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitArizona countiesArizona judicial newsArizona judicial electionsJudicial selection in ArizonaArizonaTemplatewithoutBankruptcy.jpg