The Legal Nexus

A blog of the Maricopa County Bar Association

Supreme Court Enforces Mandatory Civil eFiling; Initiative Takes Effect Sept. 1

No Paper Accepted in Civil Filings Starting  Sept. 1

By Michael K. Jeanes, clerk of the Superior Court of Maricopa County

To secure compliance with its directive for attorneys to eFile in civil cases in the Superior Court in Maricopa County, the Supreme Court has directed the Clerk’s Office not to accept paper filings from attorneys in civil cases, effective Sept. 1.

Civil cases must still be initiated on paper; however, subsequent documents must be eFiled through AZTurboCourt unless an exception defined in a Supreme Court Administrative Order applies. eFiling applies to general civil cases, not the subcategories of civil cases such as probate and family cases.

While the court’s vision is for eFiling across all case types statewide, mandatory eFiling for attorneys is limited at this time to general civil cases in the Superior Court in Maricopa County and cases where individual judges order eFiling.

Individual attorneys who have not yet done so are encouraged to register and file through AZTurboCourt now. It is difficult to establish an eFiling account in one day due to the requirements of assigning roles in the eFiling system and to verify payment accounts before an eFiling can be submitted. Register with AZTurboCourt online at

What Will Happen to Paper Documents?
The following procedures will carry out the court’s directive for enforcement: File counter clerks will return attorney-submitted post-initiation civil case paper documents to the person presenting them at the file counter and provide a notice that the document must be eFiled through AZTurboCourt.

Attorney-submitted post-initiation civil case paper documents received by U.S. Mail or in the depository boxes will be discarded. The submitting attorney will be notified by email that the paper document was discarded without being filed, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s Administrative Order (AO) and that the document must be eFiled through AZTurboCourt. A copy of the AO will be attached to the email notification and a copy of the email will be sent to the Administrative Office of the Courts for compliance monitoring.

The Clerk’s Office will have a form available for attorneys to request a good cause eFiling exception from the Superior Court, as provided in the Supreme Court’s AO. The presiding judge of the Superior Court will designate a judicial officer to consider an attorney’s request for an eFiling exception.Specific details on requesting an eFiling exception are included in the court’s AO.

The Clerk’s Office notified the process servers of these changes at a recent quarterly meeting and notified the legal community of the change in the Clerk’s monthly electronic newsletter, The Brief, in July, August and September.
Reminders were posted on the Clerk’s Facebook page ( and through the office Twitter account (@MaricopaClerk). To receive the Clerk’s news and updates by text message to your mobile device, text “Follow MaricopaClerk” to 40404.


August 19, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

Send in Your Funny Stories for the John O’Connor III Humor Competition

John O' Connor holds two family bibles as Chief Justice Warren Burger swears in O' Connor's wife, Sandra Day O' Connor, as an Associate Justice at the Supreme Court in 1981.

Celebrate the humor and life of John O’Connor III, the beloved husband of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. O’Connor, a well-known and respected attorney, passed away on Nov. 11, 2009 after a nearly 20-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Phoenix Rotary 100 is inviting the public to honor O’Connor’s own sense of humor, contributions to the valley legal community, and more than 40 years of service to the Rotary through a humor competition. Arizona law students, law faculty, and licensed legal practitioners are eligible to apply for entry into the competition.

The Rotary requests that entries be a 3-6 minute program of humorous stories, jokes or anecdotes. Preliminary judging will happen on Sept. 20 at Phoenix Country Club. Four finalists will be selected. The finals competition and award presentations will take place during the Phoenix Rotary 100’s Sept. 30 meeting. An entry fee of $25 includes lunch at the Phoenix Rotary 100’s Sept. 30 meeting.

For entry applications and competition guidelines, please visit the Phoenix Rotary 100 website beginning Aug.1. Entries must be submitted online by 5 p.m. on Sept. 7.

  • Awards and scholarships will be as follows:
    • First Place – $3,000
    • Second Place – $2,000
    • Third Place – $1,000
    • Fourth Place – $1,000

Questions?  Please contact Phoenix Rotary 100:

August 4, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

Arnold vs. Sarn and the Electronic Record on Appeal

Arnold vs. Sarn and other Historically Significant Cases

By Michael K. Jeanes, Clerk of the Superior Court

The Clerk’s Corner in the May edition of the Maricopa Lawyer discussed historically significant cases that have touched the Superior Court in Maricopa County in one way or another. Parties, attorneys, judicial officers and others were encouraged to designate qualifying cases for this designation. The process and forms are readily available and the brief time it takes to file the motion potentially preserves the case for all time.

Among the cases listed as examples was this description: “Public Fiduciary v. Arizona State Hospital (Sarns case/mental health), which began as a class action in 1981 and continues today.” Fortunately, this cursory write-up caught the attention of Charles Arnold, the “Arnold” in Arnold vs. Sarns, as the case is nationally and internationally known by the legal and non-legal community. Arnold (“Chick” when engaged informally) was willing to share his insight into the case and its far-reaching effects and agreed to have his comments published in this edition of the Maricopa Lawyer.

The value in designating a case as historically significant is that the case remains available to educate and put the legal and social environment in context. Even more valuable is designating cases while the players are still available and passionate about their insight.

The Electronic Record on Appeal Expands

In August of 2009 the Clerk’s Office started a pilot with Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals by providing the record on appeal electronically in one probate case, followed by appeals in all family and probate court cases. Continue reading

June 17, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

Attorneys Ask Arizona Supreme Court to Enjoin State’s Planned Freeze on Medicaid Enrollment to Take Effect July 1

Three public-interest law firms have asked the Arizona Supreme Court to place an injunction and expedite consideration of their request for a special action on Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to freeze enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program. Brewer’s petition to freeze enrollment for about 140,000 adults who earn the same as or less than the federal poverty level would take place July 1, despite voters’ determination through passing Proposition 204 in 2000 that that population should be covered.

In their motion for injunctive relief, the petitioners said they are concerned that thousands of low-income Arizonans will be “irreparably harmed” if an injunction is not issued by the Supreme Court.

In Thursday’s motion, attorney Tim Hogan said that it appears the government will approve the state’s request to deny health care eligibility under Medicaid to adults without dependent children who apply after June 30 and parents with an income at or above 75 percent of the federal poverty level who apply after Sept. 30.

“All indications from the federal government are that it will grant Arizona’s request,” Hogan wrote. Continue reading

June 17, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

Former Solicitor General Chosen as Lead Counsel to File SB 1070 Petition

Paul D. Clement

Gov. Jan Brewer has chosen renowned attorney Paul D. Clement as lead counsel in filing Arizona’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court regarding SB 1070.

Clement is a partner at Bancroft PLLC in Washington, D.C. He served under President George W. Bush as the 43rd Solicitor General of the United States, from 2005 until 2008. Before Clement’s service as solicitor general, he was acting solicitor general for nearly a year and principal deputy solicitor general for more than three years. He is a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Clement has argued more than 50 cases before the Supreme Court, including McConnell v. FEC, Tennessee v. Lane, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, and McDonald v. Chicago. Additionally, Clement’s lower court experience includes many of the government’s pivotal cases, such as Walker v. Cheney and the successful appeal in United States v. Moussaoui. He currently serves as lead counsel representing 26 states, including Arizona, in the Florida lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of ObamaCare. That case is currently before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Mr. Clement has an impeccable nationwide reputation for his expertise in appellate and constitutional litigation,” said Brewer. “He is well-suited to lead our excellent legal team as we advance Arizona’s appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Brewer said she is optimistic the Supreme Court will choose to hear the state’s defense of SB 1070.

It will likely be late September or early October before the court announces whether it will hear the case.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

Professor Penny Willrich Named Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Phoenix School of Law

Penny Willrich

Phoenix School of Law Professor Penny Willrich has been appointed as the new associate dean of academic affairs, beginning July 1. She will take on the post as Associate Dean Shandrea Solomon steps down to become a full-time assistant professor of law.

“Professor Penny Willrich is the perfect person to serve as our associate dean for academic affairs,” said Shirley L. Mays, dean of Phoenix School of Law. “As one of the tenured faculty members of the law school, she is both knowledgeable and passionate about Phoenix School of Law. A former judge, Professor Willrich is a well-respected member of the legal community and a great model for our culture.”

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the entire Phoenix Law family – students, faculty, staff, and administrators – to lead and develop an educational institution,” said Willrich. “I look forward to working with all of my colleagues at PhoenixLaw as we strive to develop a center of excellence, as we implement programs and projects to further our mission pillars, as we become more entrenched in the fabric of the legal community and as we continue to graduate lawyers who rock the state in bar passage. This new job is a set of new responsibilities in a labor of love.”

Before teaching at PhoenixLaw, Willrich served as the first African-American woman trial court judge in the history of the state of Arizona from 1999 to 2005. She served in the juvenile, criminal, and family division. However, she continues to serve the court as a judge pro tem. From 1995 to 1999, Willrich served as a commissioner of Maricopa County Superior Court. She served in the juvenile and criminal division. As a juvenile court commissioner, Willrich was appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to prepare the initial draft of re-drafted juvenile court rules. Continue reading

June 3, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

Governor, Attorney General To File Suit Regarding the Legality of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act

Brewer says Court Action Needed to Determine Whether AMMA Violates Federal Law 

On Tuesday, May 24, Gov. Jan Brewer said she has directed Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to file suit by the end of the week seeking a declaratory judgment from a federal court regarding the legality of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).

“For the state employees charged with administering the medical marijuana program or the Arizonans who intend to participate as consumers, it’s important that we receive court guidance as to whether they are at risk for federal prosecution,” said Brewer. “As explained in a recent letter from the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, the federal government considers marijuana a controlled substance. Arizonans deserve clarity on an issue with such dire legal implications.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services had been implementing voter-approved AMMA provisions until it received a letter, dated May 2, 2011, from U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. Burke’s letter warned that marijuana remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance, meaning that “growing, distributing and possessing marijuana, in any capacity, other than as a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws that purport to permit such activities.” Burke said that his office would “vigorously prosecute individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing, distribution and marketing activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

In his letter, Burke raises questions about the legality of both the AMMA and related Arizona Administrative Code provisions. Brewer said she is concerned about the vulnerability of state employees charged with administering the AMMA, including, but not limited to, the issuance of dispensary licenses and qualified-patient registration cards. If a federal prosecutor were to decide that such activities are contrary to federal law, state employees may be subject to federal prosecution, she said.

Burke’s letter also expresses concern that medical marijuana creates uncertainty for state law enforcement. In the letter, he calls into question the ability of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) to maintain federal grant monies, the department’s enforcement activities and federal task force actions, and the employment status of DPS employees who could be in violation of federal law while participating as consumers in the AMMA. Continue reading

May 25, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

For the Love of Country – Retired Justice O’Connor Pitches iCivics

O’Connor asks MCBA members to spread the word on iCivics project

Ret. Justice Sandra Day O' Connor spoke to students at Desert Foothills Junior High School in Phoenix last week about the importance of civics education.

When retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor attended school in the 1930s and 40s, civics classes were an integral part of students’ education. Today, due to school budget cuts and an emphasis on raising math and science scores, many civics classes have been cut or have had little impact with students. To the 81-year-old former Arizona senator, assistant attorney general and judge, that is devastating news.

In an effort to revitalize an interest in and understanding of civics among young people, O’Connor and a small team comprising Abby Taylor, who is the iCivics Executive Director and served a fellowship for O’Connor while studying at Georgetown University Law School, and Jeff Curley, also a graduate of Georgetown in education and communications, launched a web-based education project in 2009 called iCivics.

The project, which was created through a non-profit organization, uses online games and activities to teach students an array of civics-based lessons, including on the three branches of government, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, citizenship and participation, and separation of powers. Using the program, students can run their own law firms, be president for a day, act as an attorney arguing a real Supreme Court case, learn how immigrants become American citizens, and be a Supreme Court justice.

A screenshot of the iCivics homepage shows a myriad of colors and graphics to make students' learning of civics fun and entertaining. - photo provided iCivics.

Students can also play fun games that allow them to campaign for an issue of their choice, choose questions for politicians to debate and work as a legislator trying to meet the needs of constituents.

O’Connor, who has been busy promoting the iCivics program to schools and at events across the country since 2009, said she is shocked and discouraged at students’ lack of knowledge of basic U.S. government. “Our young people know virtually nothing. They’re coming out of high school at 18 and they’re eligible to vote yet don’t register or don’t know how to vote,” O’Connor said.

A report released May 4 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a nationally representative measure of achievement in various subjects – including math, science, reading and history – over time, shows that while fourth graders’ knowledge and skills in civics have increased and eighth grade scores remain unchanged, those of 12th-grade students have declined with just one quarter of high-school seniors deemed “proficient.” The report, called the Civics 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress at Grades 4, 8, and 12, is known as The Nation’s Report Card.

The 2010 test assessed 26,600 students in a sample that was designed to be representative of the entire U.S. student population by socioeconomic status, race,  parents’ education, language barriers and disabilities.

Jeff Curley, deputy director of iCivics, said O’Connor has been tireless in her efforts to help students learn more about civics. As a result of her work, people are responding to the challenge.

Last year the Florida Legislature enacted the Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education law.  The law requires that 7th graders complete a civics course and 8th graders pass a civics test to be promoted to high school. Additionally, civics-related content must be taught on all grade levels.

O’Connor said that while that’s a great start, she would like to see Arizona schools also make strides in the area of civics, starting with implementing the iCivics program in schools. “It’s my hope that my home state of Arizona will help get it (iCivics) in use,” she said.

O’Connor also called upon attorneys and others in the legal field to help get iCivics into the schools. “Most lawyers are willing to help students to be good citizens…It would be wonderful if members of the Maricopa County Bar would help us by contacting schools. It’s free, costs the school nothing, and it is very teacher friendly. It would be a great service to get the county bar to contact high schools and middle schools,” she said.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

And the Winners of this Year’s Student Essay Contest Are….

Seven students took home certificates of accomplishment for this year’s Law Day Essay Contest, presented by MCBA’s Young Lawyers Division. The essay question for the 2011 contest, which included essays submitted by 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, addressed the assumptions of guilt without all the facts.

First-place, sixth-grade essay contest winners Vincent Wu and Madeline Maiorella (Lookout Mountain Elementary).

Winning essays included answers to questions regarding appropriate judicial process and rights to a proper legal defense.  Each of the winners was presented with a certificate at the Arizona Supreme Court on April 22.

6th/7th grade category:
1st place: Vincent Wu and Madeline Maiorella (Lookout Mountain Elementary, 6th grade)

2nd place: Jonathan Spencer Alarcon (Franklin South Elementary, 6th grade)

3rd place: Sarah Johnson (Mercury Mine Elementary, 6th grade)

 8th grade category:
1st place: Jose Flores (Rose Linda School)
2nd place: Brock Kistler (Center For Educational Excellence)
3rd place: Leticia Rangel (Rose Linda School)

May 4, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment

What Great Writers Can Teach Lawyers and Judges: Wisdom from Plato to Mark Twain to Stephen King

   By Douglas E. Abrams 

Mark Twain

“Writing,” said lawyer Abraham Lincoln in 1859, is “the great invention of the world.”[1] From ancient times, the writer’s craft has captivated leading figures in literature, non-lawyers who are remembered most often for what they wrote, and not for what they said about how to write. Their commentary about the writing process, however, seems unsurprising because facility with the written language brought recognition in their day and later in history.

Like most other close analogies, analogies between literature and legal writing may be imperfect at their edges. “Literature is not the

goal of lawyers,” wrote Justice Felix Frankfurter nearly eighty years ago, “though they occasionally attain it.”[2]  “The law,” said Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes even earlier, “is not the place for the artist or the poet.”[3]

Despite some imperfections across disciplines, advice from well-known fiction and non-fiction writers can serve lawyers and judges well because law, in its essence, is a literary profession heavily dependent on the written word. There are only two types

Stephen King

of writing – good writing and bad writing.  As poet (and Massachusetts Bar member) Archibald MacLeish recognized, good legal

writing is simply good writing about a legal subject.[4]  “[L]awyers would be better off,” said MacLeish, “if they stopped thinking of the language of the law as a different language and realized that the art of writing for legal purposes is in no way distinguishable from the art of writing for any other purpose.”[5]

As Justices Frankfurter and Holmes intimated, the tone and cadence of non-lawyer writers might vary from those of professionals who write in the law. Variance aside,
however, the core aim of any writer, lawyers and judges included, remains constant – to convey ideas through precise, concise, simple, and clear expression.[6]      This article presents instruction from master non-lawyer writers about these four characteristics


1.         “The difference between the almost right word and right word is . . . the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug” – Mark Twain.[7]

            When we read personal messages from acquaintances or newspaper columns by writers friendly to our point of Continue reading

April 25, 2011 Posted by | About Us | Leave a comment