Judge Jordan Reardon Explains:‘What is Justice Court?’

Judge Jordan Reardon

Gila County’s newest Justice of the Peace, Jordan Reardon, donned the black robe and took the bench at Globe Regional Justice Court last January. A sergeant with the Tempe Police prior to November’s election, he had prior experience on the bench serving as Judge Pro Tempore. Judge Reardon has family roots deep in the Globe-Miami community - and a law enforcement resume that started with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office before he accepted promotions in Pinal County and Tempe.

In this new occasional series, Judge Reardon offers to explain court procedures – and online resources conveniently available to plaintiffs, defendants – and all who want to know more about Justice Court.

“What is Justice Court? All Arizona counties have justice courts that are presided over by a justice of the peace, elected for a four-year term. For the convenience of our residents, Gila County has regional Justice Courts in both Globe and Payson. Population determines the number of justice courts in a county; for comparison Maricopa County has 26 justice courts. We rule on a wide range of charges and lawsuits – everything from speeding tickets and traffic court to DUIs, landlord-tenant controversies and civil lawsuits where the amount in dispute is $10,000 or less.”

“Your local Justice Court is the place to settle small claims, and judges hear the full range of civil and criminal traffic offenses, misdemeanor allegations such as shoplifting, or writing bad checks, and those charged with violating restraining orders. Same as with other trial judges, we also rule on requests for order of protection - and injunctions against harassment.”

Explore the courts’ pages at www.gilacountyaz.gov/government/courts/globe_regional_justice_court for links such as what to do when ‘You Have Just Received A Traffic Citation.’ Or check the weekly calendar page – which lists daily arraignments at 8:30 a.m.; and Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays reserved for trails. Civil traffic hearings and pre-trial conferences are Tuesday morning, with open court proceedings that afternoon. Wednesday afternoon brings another opportunity for pre-trial conferences. The website also has downloadable forms for criminal pleas by-mail; civil motions, set-aside judgements, small claims up to $3,500. Those interested find a helpful ‘defendant’s checklist’; forms for summons, counter-claim -- or notice of voluntary dismissal.

“Civil jurisdiction in Justice courts can include lawsuits when the amount in dispute is $10,000 or less,” adds Reardon, continuing that examples include:

• Eviction Actions and Landlord & Tenant Disputes

• Collection Cases

• Consumer Complaints Against Businesses

• Negligence Actions, (e.g. Motor Vehicle Accidents)

• Breach of Contract Cases
“Justice courts hear small claims cases, too.  In those cases, the amount in dispute is $3,500 or less. Small Claims cases are much more informal than a regular courtroom proceeding and usually do not involve attorneys.  There is no appeal from a small claims decision. All justice courts hear every type of crime that is a misdemeanor under state law, DUI and extreme DUI, bad checks, violations of order of protections, or injunctions against harassment. Underage drinking, too. Some justice courts conduct preliminary hearing on felonies.”

“Most justice of the peace precincts have an elected constable; ours in Globe is Ruben Mancha – continuing a career in law enforcement as Constable following three decades with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Constables’ duties are to execute, serve and return all processes and legal documents as directed by the court.

Some statues relating to sheriffs also govern the powers, duties and liabilities of constables.”

The justice of the peace usually has one or more court clerks to provide clerical assistance and maintain court records.

Additionally, justice courts in some busy urban precincts have a court administrator. Justice Courts are known to be high volume courts with their case filings and are required to process such cases in a timely manner set forth by “Time Standards” as outlined by the Arizona Supreme Court guidelines.  All Justice Courts are subject to triannual audits and operational reviews set by the Arizona Supreme Court.

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