The Arizona Supreme Court

Coolidge Law Firm - statue of lady justice stands well

The Arizona Supreme Court

Whether you find yourself in legal trouble or not, Coolidge Law Firm (serving the greater Metro Phoenix Area) believes it’s always a good idea to stay informed about how the law works on a national, as well as a local level. In our previous post we discussed the three different levels of the Arizona Court system, their jurisdiction, and what kinds of cases they hear. In this post, we’ll cover what is called the court of last resort, or the Arizona Supreme Court.

How it Works

The rules and duties of the Supreme Court of Arizona are laid out in Article VI of the Arizona Constitution. Those duties include reviewing appeals from lower courts and providing rules of procedure for all Arizona courts. The seven justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Governor to serve a term of six years. And while they are appointed by a publicly elected political official, their role is to remove politics from the law and to form opinions and decisions based on the constitutional rights of Arizona’s citizens. Cases seen by the Supreme Court are on a discretionary basis—meaning that the court is not required to review any case, with the exception of cases where the death penalty was sentenced.

The State of Arizona v. Goodman

To give you an idea of cases that are reviewed and decided upon in the Arizona Supreme Court, here’s a brief overview of a case handled just this last February, 2018, according to the official Oral Argument Case Summary.

A Little Background

“In 2002, Arizona voters passed Proposition 103, amending the Arizona Constitution, article 2, section 22 and A.R.S. § 13–3961 by adding an additional category of criminal charges for which there would be no release on bail: sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor under fifteen, and molestation of a child under fifteen where “the proof is evident or the presumption great” that the defendant committed the offense.”

The Supreme Court Reviews an Appeal

In 2017, in a review of the case Simpson v. Miller (Simpson II), the Supreme Court found this no-release-on-bail provision unconstitutional as it related to the crime of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of fifteen. The reason being: sexual conduct with a minor can be consensual and still fall under this offense, which the Supreme Court felt “would suggest little or nothing about the defendant’s danger to anyone.”  And because no-bail terms are set to protect the public from the potential danger a charged criminal can present, the Supreme Court therefore concluded that “A blanket prohibition on bail for the crime of sexual conduct with a minor violated due process rights.”

A Petition for Special Action

Based on a protocol set by the Maricopa County Superior Court in response to the 2017 Simpson II decision, a man charged with sexual assault—which is always non-consensual—by the name of Goodman, was granted an individualized bail hearing and was held bailable at $70,000. This elicited a special action petition from the State of Arizona, “Arguing that Simpson II only dealt with offenses involving sexual conduct with a minor, and the trial court therefore erred in holding a bail hearing for a person charged with sexual assault because no hearing was required for a determination of future dangerousness.” In the end, the court of appeals upheld that sexual assault is a non-bailable offense.  

While the ins and outs of law are intricate and complicated, one thing is simple: if you’ve been charged with a crime in Arizona, your best defense is hiring a criminal law specialist. And if you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney with high credentials, Todd Coolidge of Coolidge Law Firm is your man. Call today for your free consultation (480) 264-5111.


Photo by Luke Michael on Unsplash (8/7/2018)