Month: January 2012

Flagstaff Attorney Discusses Local Courts

With the amount of Courts in Flagstaff, jurisdiction can be a confusing issue. Jurisdiction means that a Court has authority and power under the law to make legal decisions and administer justice in a specific area. For example:

  • If you get charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession on the Northern Arizona University campus, what Court will hear your case?
  • What government office will prosecute you?
  • If a visitor in the Grand Canyon National Park gets stopped for DUI, where will the case be heard?
  • How about an excessive speeding (criminal speeding) ticket on I-40 near Williams?

In Flagstaff, there’s the Flagstaff Municipal Court, Flagstaff Justice Court, Coconino County Superior Court, Juvenile Court, and U.S. Magistrate Court. Let’s take a look at what they do.

Flagstaff Municipal Court hears the large majority of all misdemeanor criminal cases based on events that occurred within Flagstaff city limits. However, the Flagstaff Justice Court, which is actually a county court – not a city court – has concurrent jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases in Flagstaff. So, some misdemeanor cases in Flagstaff are actually heard in the Flagstaff Justice Court, even though that’s a Coconino County court.

Regarding one of the questions above, misdemeanors occurring on the NAU campus are routinely heard in the Flagstaff Justice Court, not the Flagstaff Municipal Court. Flagstaff Justice Court also has jurisdiction over preliminary hearings in felony cases. Felony complaints cannot be heard in the Flagstaff Municipal Court because only the county or state can prosecute an Arizona felony case. Flagstaff Justice Court also hears civil cases involving disputes under $10,000, landlord/tenant/eviction matters, orders of protection, injunctions against harassment, and more.

The Coconino County Superior Court has civil jurisdiction over Arizona civil cases involving more than $10,000. Most importantly the Coconino County Superior Court has jurisdiction over jury trials in felony prosecutions. In the Coconino County Superior Court, defendants can be prosecuted for any and all State felony offenses (and misdemeanors), including Flagstaff death penalty cases and ones involving up to life in prison, drug cases, marijuana and dangerous drugs, theft, assault, murder, rape, probation violations, and all other Arizona felonies.

The Juvenile Court is self-explanatory.

Finally, the U.S. Magistrate Court in Flagstaff hears all misdemeanor and felony cases occurring across Northern Arizona on federal lands and, in some cases, on indian reservations.

Therefore, a DUI case in the Grand Canyon National Park will be heard by the U.S. Court, not an Arizona state court. The same applies to other National Parks, like Antelope Point, or Wahweap near Lake Powell. Also, a major crime occurring on the Navajo Nation will generally be heard in the U.S. Court system.

Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC is certified to pursue justice in all Arizona state courts, including the Flagstaff Justice Court, Coconino County Superior Court, and Arizona Supreme Court, as well as all Arizona city and municipal courts, U.S. Magistrate and District Courts in Arizona, the Navajo Nation Courts, and the Hopi Tribal Court.