Judicial Branch News
Volume 1, Issue 1 October 2006
Record Number of Adoptions to be Finalized
Lucy and Kylie are two lucky
Inside this issue: little girls.
Message From the Presiding They will finally get their wish
Judge……………….….………2 and live a foster child’s dream:
to be part of a family. On
Community Invited to Meet November 18, Kylie and Lucy
the Court ……………………...3 will be among an estimated 170
Highlights of the Downtown children who will have their
Justice Tower …….…….…...5 adoptions finalized at the 7th
Annual Adoption Day at the Kylie and her brothers Parker, Jordan and
Judge Gets Top Award for Juvenile Court Center in Hunter. Kylie will have her adoption finalized
Improving Family Court….…6 Phoenix. on Celebrate Adoption Day.
and New Hires………..…..…..7 Janet Story and Kathryn “We expect to break last
Pidgeon, attorneys who are year’s record,” Pidgeon said.
Photo Highlights……………..8 adoption specialists and “Last year, Maricopa County's
organizers of Maricopa County’s adoption celebration was one of
Adoption event, held on the largest nationwide with 143
National Adoption Day, are sure children adopted.”
this year’s celebration will be
Continued on page 4
The Judicial Branch News is
an online newsletter published
by the Media Relations and
Criminal Justice Tower Planned
If you wish to contribute to this To keep up with the integrated justice system. The
newsletter, please send burgeoning population in structure will be the first
articles, news items, photos or Maricopa County, the Board of downtown Superior Court
other correspondence to:
Supervisors approved a county building constructed since the
capital development plan that Central Court Building in 1972.
includes bringing a state-of-the-
Committed to the Timely, Fair and
Impartial Administration of Justice.
art criminal justice center to On October 16th, the Board
Downtown Phoenix. The Board of Supervisors approved
stated that the court tower is its $800,000 for implementation and
number one building priority. management of basic concepts
and initial programming of the
The criminal justice tower court tower project.
will contain criminal courtrooms
and criminal justice functions,
incorporating a streamlined,
Continued on page 5
October 2006 Page 2
Message From the Presiding Judge
uring the first Juvenile justice – residents want their schools
year of my five- and neighborhoods to be safe. Juvenile Court in
year assignment Maricopa County is committed to providing tools that
as presiding succeed in helping the majority of delinquent
judge, I took the first step of juveniles to turn their lives around and remain law-
a journey that opened my abiding kids. Appropriate consequences are part of
eyes about the public’s the effort to rehabilitate delinquent juveniles,
perception about law and including detention, community service, counseling
order, and fairness and and restitution.
Justice served in a timely fashion – victims,
Barbara Rodriguez Mundell By initiating community witnesses, defendants and members of the
Presiding Judge forums, I went into the community expect resolution of criminal matters
community and found without unnecessary delay. The court monitors its
people who were willing to meet me and give me a criminal caseload to assure trials are being
piece of their minds. scheduled within the “speedy trial” mandate. I
recently designated a cadre of judges to hear
Was I surprised by what I heard? lawyers’ requests to reschedule “firm” trial dates.
Civil department judges are also assisting, by
Yes. But I wasn’t shocked or disappointed. I was handling overflow criminal trials. It is our mission to
invigorated. resolve criminal matters efficiently, without sacrificing
justice for speedy resolution. Although the court is
I discovered that residents across Maricopa faced with increasing numbers of criminal cases
County were willing to spend part of their evening to being filed, it is up to us to try to meet this challenge
meet with judges and court officials to share their with our available resources.
views on what they need, want and expect from their
courts and their judges. Quality of judges – residents want to know their
judges are among the best in the country. Our
If you missed an opportunity to come to a court- judges, court staff and court programs have been
community meeting previously, there is one recognized with honors and awards for distinguished
community forum scheduled for the month of service to the community, commitment to uphold the
November and I personally invite you to come and constitution and dedication to protect each
talk with me. individual’s rights, regardless of gender, race or age.
You are invited to join me at Mesa Community Family Disputes – members of the community
College, 1833 West Southern Avenue at 6 p.m., expect family matters to be resolved timely and in
Tuesday, November 14. the best interest of children, parents and spouses. A
number of changes have been implemented in
As I move forward in my second year as presiding Family Court to improve service to families, including
judge, I am committed to continue my conversations Post Decree Court, a Decree on Demand program
with the public and listen to reports of what we are and streamlined processes. In early 2007, the court
doing well and what areas need improvement. I will will introduce a pilot project in our Northeast
continue hosting community forums, as long as Regional Court Facility at 40th Street and Union Hills
people are interested in learning about their courts to schedule family court proceedings during night
and sharing their opinions and recommendations on and weekend hours.
improving the judicial branch in Maricopa County.
The Judicial Branch in Maricopa County is
Last year, I listened to parents, crime victims, committed to excellence. It is also committed to the
students, teachers and other concerned residents timely, fair and impartial administration of justice.
talk about what they think are the most important Hold us accountable by letting your voice be heard
issues facing them – and their courts. They include: at our upcoming community forum.
October 2006 Page 3
Community Invited to Meet the Court
Presiding Judge Barbara
Rodriguez Mundell has been
meeting with the public at
community forums which are
co-hosted by community
colleges around the Valley.
“I look forward to meeting
individuals who are interested in
the court system and ask them
to come to a forum and share
their perspective on what we
are doing well, what court
issues are most important to
them, and what ways the courts Judge Mundell answers a question from one of the invited guests.
can better serve the
community,” Judge Mundell
said. She added that a number
The second community It will be held in the Paul A.
of judges and court officials are
forum was held at 6:30 p.m., on Eisner Library, LB145, on the
participating in the forums, to
listen to comments and answer Tuesday, October 17, at Estrella campus at 1833 W. Southern
questions. Mountain Community College, Avenue, Mesa.
3000 N. Dysart Road, Avondale.
The first forum was held on “Each forum is a rewarding
The final event in the series experience because we provide
October 3, at Paradise Valley
is at Mesa Community College, helpful information and also
Community College, 18401 N.
6 p.m., Tuesday, November 14. receive a lot of feedback from
32nd Street, in Phoenix.
community members who
attend,” said Patricia Seguin,
Community Outreach Director.
“I think these gatherings are
really enjoyable because we
discuss so many important
topics about the court and
community. Judges and officials
are eager to hear what the
community thinks of the court’s
programs, operations and
processes,” Seguin said.
For additional information,
contact the Community
Outreach Director, Patricia
Judicial Officers pose with students from Paradise Valley Community College following the forum.
October 2006 Page 4
Record Number of Adoptions to be Finalized……….Continued
There is an ongoing need
for adoptive families in
particularly for children in
Judge Eileen Willett
exceeded all that we could ever
have hoped for.” Larue said.
In Maricopa County Juvenile
Court, five commissioners
preside over adoptions every
week. Currently, there are 371
Judge Teresa Sanders with a newly adoptive family at the 2004 Celebrate Adoption event. open adoption cases involving
493 children in juvenile court.
Continued from page 1
Although adoptions continue to
For Lynn Allen and her “There are many highs and increase annually and are at
husband Cecil of Surprise, lows associated with adoption. their highest level, there are still
finalizing the adoption will be At times, I felt discouraged but many children in Maricopa
the perfect ending to the deep down I knew I was doing County who desperately need a
process of adding seven-year- what was best for the child and permanent family.
old Lucy to their family. our family,” Allen said. “I can’t
begin to tell you how much our "There is an ongoing need
“We wanted to finalize her foster and adopted children for adoptive families in Maricopa
adoption on National Adoption have enriched our lives.” County, particularly for children
Day because we are willing to in foster care," Juvenile Court
do whatever it takes to bring National Adoption Day will Presiding Judge Eileen Willett
attention to such a worthwhile also be a special day for Nina said. “National Adoption Day
cause,” Allen said. and her husband Ron Larue of celebrates the families who
Scottsdale and their new adopt as well as raises
Allen, a former social worker daughter Kylie. awareness for adoption. We
who is the foster mother to three would like to invite members of
more children, is now a full-time The Larue’s adoption was a the community to attend the
mom. As a social worker, Allen long and emotional process. celebration to witness the
worked on Lucy’s case for four The journey began in 2001. On smiles on the faces of the newly
years. March 1st, they were notified adopted children and their
they were approved for families. Come and share the
“At first, Lucy was a tough adoption. joy. The children and families
case. Many case workers will touch your heart.”
thought the adoption of Lucy “We may have questioned it
was a long shot. But I fell in love at times but each time we hold National Adoption Day is a
with her; she is the sweetest our daughter, our much sought- collective national effort to raise
little girl,” Allen said. “Lucy after daughter, we know, awareness of the more than
wanted to be adopted so badly beyond the shadow of a doubt, 118,000 children in foster care
and be part of a permanent that God’s timing is perfect and nationally waiting to find
family. our beautiful little girl has greatly permanent, loving families.
October 2006 Page 5
Criminal Justice Tower Project on the Horizon……...Continued
Continued from page 1
By 2015, it’s estimated the Early Disposition Court,” Judge acquisition of property for the
population in Maricopa County Mundell said. “This model is Southwest Regional Court in
will grow to 4.7 million people. popular with victims’ rights Avondale.
Over that period, felony advocates because it makes “I would like to thank the
caseloads are expected to crime victims an equal partner Board of Supervisors and
increase from 39,000 felonies in the process. The emphasis is County Management for their
to 57,000. Based on those on offenders making full strong support of court and
numbers, the court determined restitution to victims.” court-related departments in
there needs to be enough the County Strategic Plan and
space to house 223 judges and Part of the county capital the FY07 budget,” Judge
6,000 court and clerk staff. development plan also calls for Mundell said. “The Court
expansion of courts and continues its commitment to
“We evaluated all existing probation at the Southeast continuous self-examination
facilities and determined we Regional Court; completion of and to enhance services in a
need to meet space needs the Northwest and Northeast responsible and cost-effective
through a combination of Regional Courts and the manner.”
existing facilities and
construction of new buildings,”
Superior Court Presiding Judge
Barbara Rodriguez Mundell
said. “We also need to explore
options to help at-risk Highlights of the Criminal Justice Tower
individuals lead law-abiding
lives. Options range from
incarceration for violent or • “One-stop shopping” with offices for probation intake,
repeat offenders to development court interpretation and translation services, pre-trial
of constructive alternatives to release screening and public assistance agency offices.
incarceration and sentencing
for low-risk non-violent • All criminal trials will be held downtown, but the Regional
offenders.” Court Center and the Early Disposition Court will remain
at regional sites, and special criminal trials can be
The implementation of assigned to Southeast. This allows the five Southeast
restorative justice programming, criminal trial divisions to relocate downtown, backfilling
which holds offenders court space in the Southeast Court Building with much
accountable while offering them needed family and civil courts
effective re-integration into
society, will be a key • Between 45 and 70 new criminal courts, depending on
component of the new criminal configuration.
• Separate circulation patterns for in-custody defendants,
“Our community has already jurors, victims, witnesses, judges and court personnel.
seen the success of the
restorative justice model in high • Utilize space in ECB and CCB with six juvenile
early settlement rates at courtrooms and additional family, civil and probate
Regional Court Center and courtrooms.
October 2006 Page 6
Judge Gets Top Award for Improving Family Court
friendly, the eCourt makes it suspected, the matter is
possible for litigants to prepare immediately referred for
their own paperwork for a evaluation.
separation or divorce, giving them • Uniform Case Management
access to the Court they would provides that all contested
otherwise not have. Several other matters are set for a Resolution
counties in Arizona adopted Judge Management Conference as soon
Davis’ program after it was as a request for any type of
implemented in Maricopa County hearing is made. A judge hearing
two years ago. the matter determines where
• Decree on Demand, that has there is agreement and includes
reduced the waiting time for that in orders, sets deadlines for
litigants to obtain default or the parties to obtain the services
Judge Norman Davis consent decrees or orders that that are needed before the case
Family Court Presiding Judge
previously took six to eight weeks. can be tried, and sets a date for
Litigants can now obtain these the ne xt hearing . These
decrees the day after they conferences resolve conflict and
Presiding Family Court Judge request them and can schedule empower families to make
Norman Davis received the 2006 their default hearing over the decisions about their future.
Award of Excellence from the internet at a time that is During its first 16 months, this
Arizona Courts Association for convenient. This program system reduced the number of
making sweeping changes in received the National Association open family cases in Maricopa
family cases so there is the least of County Managers (NACo) County by 29 percent.
financial and emotional damage award for outstanding
done to spouses and their achievement. The website Judge Davis continues to
children. address to schedule a default devise methods for improving
hearing is also: http:// Family Court procedures.
“Judge Davis is passionate ecourt.maricopa.gov
about Family Court and believes • Post Decree Child Support “We’re working on a number of
the guiding principle of the Family Court that cut the average time to additional things including the
Court should be to ‘Do No Harm’ modify child support by as much opening of a Support Enforcement
to the family relationship,” was as five months. Previously it took Court and a Parenting-Time
cited as key reason he was from four to six months to get Enforcement Court, as well as a
selected for the award. child support amended. It now Family Night Court and a Family
takes 30 to 45 days. Litigants Saturday Court after the first of
Over the past two years, come to Court for only one the year,” Judge Davis said. “We
Judge Davis used his innovation, hearing, and they leave with a are also planning to design
insight and leadership to final order. The program has an parenting time supervision and
restructure Family Court by extremely high agreement rate. exchange center in conjunction
making sweeping changes to its • Early Resolution Triage with the Night and Saturday
practices and performance. Program which requires all self- Courts if we can find the
represented litigants in contested resources.”
He created a number of cases to meet with staff members
programs, including: to mediate their differences. All He notes that virtually all of the
issues on which they concur are reforms that have been created
• eCourt, which is a program immediately reduced to a written and implemented in Family Court
to help litigants representing agreement. These are signed the “have been accomplished with
themselves correctly prepare day of the conference. This few or no additional resources.”
paperwork for their cases by program also has an extremely
using an interactive website http:// high settlement rate. If parental
ecourt.maricopa.gov. User- unfitness issues are alleged or
October 2006 Page 7
Court Appointments, Promotions and New Hires
Two court employees with
lengthy service in the Human Court Administrator Marcus Governor Janet Napolitano
Resources of the Judicial Reinkensmeyer is pleased to appointed Karen A. Potts and
Branch of Arizona in Maricopa announce the appointment of Christopher Thomas Whitten
County have been promoted to Elizabeth Ncube as Trial to serve on the Maricopa
new assignments. Courts Training and Education County Superior Court bench.
Administrator for the Judicial
Danna Quinn, of Phoenix, Branch of Arizona in Maricopa Judge Potts, a professor at
moved to the position of County. She fills the position Phoenix College, worked at
Assistant Human Resources vacated by Pamela Lizardi in Streich Lang as a litigator and
Director, from her previous July. an assistant Attorney General
assignment as Employment in the financial fraud division.
Services Administrator. Quinn’s Prior to her appointment,
promotion created another Ncube served six years Judge Whitten was an
advancement opportunity, and developing judicial education attorney with Whitten Berry,
Andreia Griego, of Scottsdale, programs at the Administrative PLLC.
was selected to move up from Office of the Courts Education
her job as Senior Analyst for Services Division. Judge Whitten will be
Human Resources to the assigned to the Civil Court
position of Employment Department at the Southeast
Services Administrator. Court Facility in Mesa. Judge
Superior Court is pleased Potts will be assigned to the
to announce the appointment Family Court Department at the
of Jennifer Murray as its new Southeast Facility in Mesa.
Law Library Assistant Director.
Prior to her appointment, The five newest court
Murray worked as a senior commissioners appointed to
research librarian at the law the Maricopa County Superior
firm of Greenberg Traurig. Court bench by Presiding
Murray graduated with a Juris Judge Barbara Rodriguez
Doctorate from Arizona State Mundell will be honored by
University. She begins her family, friends, judges,
duties on October 23. commissioners and court
officials during investiture
ceremonies beginning at
12:30 p.m., Tuesday,
Elberta Binder has been November 7 in the Board of
appointed as an E-court Supervisors Auditorium, 205
manager at Superior Court. W. Jefferson, Phoenix.
Previously, Binder served as
an adjunct faculty member at The commissioners
Phoenix College. Binder began include Michael Barth, Mark
her assignment on September Brain, Jaime Holguin, Joan
11. Huls and James Morrow.
October 2006 Page 8
community forum at
In the News Community College
Court Forums Draw Large Audience drew 110 participants. (Top
"Countdown to Armageddon”, a
British Broadcasting Company
production, was filmed in Judge
Colin Campbell’s Chambers in
the Old Courthouse. (Below)
Noreen Sharp, Presiding Judge
Barbara Rodriguez Mundell and
Karin Philips volunteering to
hand out customer service
surveys in front of the Central
Court Building. (Bottom Right)
The newly constructed Justice Court Center, 6th
Avenue and Jackson, will be ready for occupancy in