Arizona State Court System

  • Municipal Court: The Municipal court is a court of limited jurisdiction. It handles traffic cases, cases involving city code or ordinance violations, and issues protective orders and injunctions.
  • Justice of the Peace Court: This Court is also a court of limited jurisdiction. Like the Municipal Court, it can hear traffic cases and issue protective orders and injunctions prohibiting harassment. It has jurisdiction over civil cases of $10,000 or less and small claims cases of $3,500 or less.
  • Superior Court: The Superior Court is a court of general jurisdiction. It has jurisdiction over civil cases with an amount in controversy over $10,000. It is the appellate court for the Municipal and Justice of the Peace Courts.
  • Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is Arizona’s intermediate appellate court. It hears cases appealed from the Superior Court.
  • Arizona Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is Arizona’s court of last resort and has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over Court of Appeals cases.

*Some of the above courts in the Arizona State Court System also have jurisdiction over certain criminal proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings 

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 20 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery 

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution 

Before the lawsuit goes to trial, the parties may elect to schedule a mediation to attempt to resolve the matter.

If the case goes to arbitration for reasons outlined above, the Court will select an arbitrator from a list of attorneys to hear the case. Each side, the plaintiff or defendant, may strike the assigned arbitrator if they choose to do so. If stricken, a new arbitrator will be selected. The arbitration hearing can last between 60 and 120 days. If a party is not satisfied with the arbitrators ruling, a Notice of Appeal may be filed within 20 days of the Arbitration award.

Trial 

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

After the jury returns their verdict, the parties may file post trial motions and/or appeal the verdict to the appropriate appellate court in Arizona.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Arizona. Should you have a question/concern specific to Arizona law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona.