Arizona Court of Appeals
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 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, 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 Supreme Court of Arizona.
Selection of judges
Judges are selected by a modified form of the Missouri Plan. A bipartisan commission considers 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.
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.
The process for pro se criminal defendants begins with the dismissal of a Petition for Post Conviction Relief by the superior court. A review of the superior court's decision by the court of appeals begins with a Petition for Review.
While the Court of Appeals is divided into two geographic divisions in Phoenix and Tucson, the superior courts are bound by all of the Court of Appeals decisions, regardless of the division they are issued in. An Arizona trial court is not required to give greater precedent to a Court of Appeals decision from the division it is located in then a decision from the other division.
- State v. Patterson, 218 P.3d 1031, 1037 (Ariz. App. 2009)
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