Arizona judge abuses power by denying court reporter coverage
ARIZONA — The presiding judge of the Superior Court in Tuscon abused his discretion in early January by prohibiting the justice court from providing a court reporter to record a transcript in preliminary hearings, according to a 3-0, late-January decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals in Tuscon. Courts may decide at preliminary hearings whether the evidence in a case justifies going to trial.
Two parties to a criminal proceeding asked in January that the court provide a court reporter for their preliminary hearing. A state rule of criminal procedure requires that a court reporter be present at all preliminary hearings, unless a waiver is signed by both sides.
The parties were told, however, that Presiding Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Brown of Tuscon had issued an administrative order in early January prohibiting the use of court reporters in justice court.
Justice Court Judge Robert Donfeld of Tuscon then asked the justice court administrator to hire a private court reporter, but Brown denied the administrator’s request for funds.
The state then challenged Brown’s order in the state Court of Appeals in Tuscon. The appellate court noted that state rules of criminal procedure take precedence over local rules, and overruled Brown’s administrative order. (State v. Brown)