What Does a JP Do Besides Marry People?

A JP hears complaints in the following areas:

  1. Civil Traffic Violations: These are typical civil traffic and mechanical violations.

  2. Criminal Traffic Violations: These are traffic violations that are considered a misdemeanor such as driving without a valid driver's license, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, reckless driving and reckless endangerment, etc.

  3. Restraining Orders: These include Orders of Protection, Injunctions Against Harassment and Injunctions Against Harassment in the Work Place.

  4. Small Claims: These are civil complaints between two parties that are less than $3,500 such as: HOA assessments, breach of contract between two people, unpaid services, and security deposit disputes.

  5. Civil Claims: These are civil complaints between two parties that are less than $10,000 such as: HOA assessments, breach of contract between two people, unpaid services, and security deposit disputes. Tenants seeking relief from owners who fail to maintain the property, wrongful eviction, unlawful enter, unlawful ouster.

  6. Garnishment Hearings: Individuals who have a judgment against another party and are attempting to collect on the judgment.

  7. Judgment Debtor Exams: Individuals whose wages are being garnish and are seeking relief through the court.

  8. Evictions (Less than $10,000): Owners seeking return of their property for non-payment of rent, breach of contract or holding over tenant.

  9. Torts (Less than $10,000): Insurance claims - medical, auto, personal.

  10. AND Weddings.

Does a JP have to be an attorney?

No. The Arizona constitution sets the requirements for a JP as someone who is 18 years of age, a US citizen and has the ability to read, write and understand English.

Some have argued that only an attorney should be a JP because of the complexity of the law and/or the cases that come before the court.

The Justice Court, by its very nature, does not get complex cases. It is the people's court. Most of the cases that come before the Court are single issue complaints. The complaints are not complex but they are important to those who are involved and should be treated with respect.

How does a newly elected JP get trained?

Each newly elected JP, regardless of his/her background attends 4 weeks of training during the first 3 months of his/her new office at the Arizona Judicial College. Each Justice must pass a mid-term and a final exam prior to assuming their responsibilities on the Bench. During the other 9 weeks that the newly elected JP is in the court, he/she is being mentored by a pro-tem or sitting Judge. And finally, a JP never stops reading the law, preparing for trials and reviewing the appeals.

As a side bar, I have had the opportunity to be a mentor and trainer to two newly elected JPs in the past. I am humbled by the presiding JP's confidence in me to train these newly elected officials. I, also, serve as the chairman of the Judicial Development and Training Committee.

Has Steve Urie as a JP ever been appealed and reversed?

When it comes to appeals, there are two kinds of JP's, those who have been appealed and reversed and those who have been appealed and are yet to be reversed. I have been appealed a number of times - it is part of the job. However, none of Steve's decisions have been reversed. If there comes a time when one of my judicial decisions is appealed and reversed, I will learn the experience and correct the error.

How is a Justice Court Different from a Municipal Court?

Both courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Each court is limited to a specific area and to specific legal issues within their specified boundaries. For example, both courts hear civil and criminal traffic cases. The Justice Court has jurisdiction of civil and criminal traffic on the freeways and roads in the unincorporated areas of the county within its district boundaries. The Municipal Court has jurisdiction over civil and criminal traffic in the incorporated areas within the municipality boundaries.

Below is a comparison of what a Justice Court does as compared to a municipal court.

Court Activity

Justice Court

Municipal Court

Civil Traffic X X
Criminal Traffic X X
Municipal/County Code Violations X  
Orders of Protection X X
Small Claims (Less than $3,500) X  
Civil Claims (Less than $10,000) X  
Garnishment Hearings X  
Judgment Debtor Exams X  
Evictions X  
Torts (Less than $10,000) X  
Criminal Bench/Jury Trials X  X
Civil Bench Trials X  
Weddings X  X

General Election November 8, 2016

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