Arizona Judicial Branch

Recognition - All Award Nominees

The Arizona Judicial Branch Awards Committee recognizes all Strategic Agenda Awards nominations. Please see below and learn about the efforts and innovative projects going on in the Arizona Courts and start planning your nominations for next year.

Arizona Parent Education Video produced by Yavapai Superior Court

For almost 20 years, Yavapai County has had a very successful Parent Education Program that helps parties involved in a dissolution of marriage understand the emotional impact of divorce on children and adults and also the legal aspects such a case can encounter.  Seeing an increase in Spanish-speaking participants and the need to provide interpreter services more frequently at a significant cost, Alternative Dispute Resolution Services began to think of ways to provide better services for participants with limited English proficiency.  This led to the production of the Arizona Parent Education Videos in English and Spanish.  View message from Presiding Judge David Mackey and the Arizona Parent Education Videos .

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Pima County

CASA of Pima County launched a strategic plan two years ago to increase the number of its volunteers and increasing the number of children with advocates, by implementing an innovative CASA Peer Coordinator model.  Peer Coordinators are seasoned CASA volunteers who are trained to coach and advise the newer volunteers, while providing a second layer of support and supervision between the CASA volunteer and the paid program staff.  CASA of Pima County has been awarded grants from the National CASA, Jewelers for Children, and Victims of Crime Act, in recognition of its excellent outcomes and commitment to growth.  In fiscal year 2016, CASA Peer Coordinators and advocates volunteered over 18,000 hours.  Learn more how to become a volunteer for CASA  by visiting

Maricopa County Justice Courts (MCJC) Summer Staff Conference

Over the summer, Maricopa County Justice Courts organized and sponsored a conference for all limited jurisdiction courts in the state.  There were a number of topics designed to improve the professionalism of court personnel, including such topics as Criminal & Misdemeanor Case Processing, the Fair Justice initiative, Minimum Accounting Standards, Leadership Development, and Domestic Violence and the Courts.  MCJC also put its staff through Empowering Educators (E2) training from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to prepare them to teach classes.  Presenters included judges, managers, and professional trainers from the AOC.

Maricopa County Justice Courts Video Appearance Center (VAC)

Maricopa County has 26 Justice Courts that are spread throughout the Valley, with the farthest courts being 75 miles from each other.  Yet, defendants are typically held in Phoenix-based jails and are often transported to the distant court locations to see a judge.  The Video Appearance Center uses technology to improve this process and provide greater access to justice.  A remotely located judge calls in to one courtroom in downtown Phoenix via webcam to see the detainees.  The benefits of using the VAC include reducing the cost of transportation, seeing detainees faster and a reduction of 59 prisoner’s per day on average. Watch how VAC works here.

Maricopa County Adult Probation’s Healthcare Initiative

To access the health care system and receive treatment for behavioral health and other health conditions, probationers need to have healthcare coverage and understand how to use it.  When Medicaid expanded in Arizona, the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department (MCAPD) implemented a Healthcare Initiative to engage, enroll, and educate probationers about healthcare options. Partnerships with Maricopa County’s Healthcare Integration Administrator, five non-profit organizations involved with enrollment, and Maricopa County Integrated Health System have been instrumental to the project.  The Healthcare Initiative has made substantial contributions to ensuring probationers receive the treatment they need.  Learn more here.

Maricopa County Homeless Court

The goal of Maricopa County Regional Homeless Court is to resolve victimless misdemeanor offenses and warrants for homeless individuals who demonstrate a commitment to end their homelessness.   Being homeless drastically increases a person’s probability of encountering law enforcement, tickets, and fees.  This starts a vicious cycle, often resulting in failure to appear warrants, jail time, loss of licenses, and unemployment, all fueling a downward spiral.  From there, the homeless often face immense challenges affording fines and responding to traditional court systems. Participants in Maricopa County Regional Homeless Court become productive, functional members of society while reducing expensive burdens on jails and prisons.   Read brochure to learn more.

Phoenix Municipal Court Compliance Assistance Program (CAP)

There are few options for unpaid civil traffic citations that include suspending driver’s license privileges, suspended vehicle registration, and dealing with debt collection.  Once a payment is missed, defendants are frequently afraid to address the issue and, if they do, they do not have the full amount to pay off the debt.  Without enough money to pay all that is due, defendants would be in a downward spiral with collection costs and not being able to drive lawfully.  The City of Phoenix mapped out a radically new approach to collecting unpaid debt and providing a path for non-compliant persons to be back in good standing with the court and lawfully driving. With a modest “pay today” amount calculated the same for everyone by the computer, any person could join the program.  The court would then leave the judgment intact, but notify MVD that the person was now on a payment status and in compliance with the court.  View the CAP FAQs to learn how to participate.

Pima County CARDS Project and Wang System Retirement

The Calendaring and Report Database System (CARDS) is Pima County Superior Court’s first vendor-hosted, cloud-based system.  Prior to the development and implementation of CARDS, calendaring and database responsibilities were accomplished using a 1990’s Wang Office Information System and supplemented entirely by manual calendaring of direct client service appointments.  In the first six months since its inception, more than 2,300 appointments have been scheduled in the CARDS system and published directly to the counselor’s Outlook calendar.  In addition, several manually produced Excel reports were replaced with data-driven automated reports, allowing staff more time to concentrate on what matters most -- serving the public. 

Pima County Dependency Alternative Program (DAP)

DAP is a unified case management approach with the goals of diverting dependency cases in a protective manner conserving time, money, and resources.  Since implementation 2015, DAP has proven to be tremendously successful while also saving money.  In 2012, dependency cases exploded in Arizona and Pima County dependency petitions increased by 50%.  Pima County’s caseloads remain at that all time high with over 3,000 children in out-of-home care. The spike has overburdened the court and child welfare system, affecting children and families. In response, Pima County created the Dependency Alternative Program, a unified case management approach in a siloed court system.   Download information on the Pima County Juvenile Court Center.

Pima County Juvenile Court’s Family Drug Court

Established in 2001, Pima County Juvenile Court’s Family Drug Court (FDC) is one of the longest-running, most highly regarded FDCs in the United States and established itself as the model for best practice in all Pima County dependency cases.  In 2016, nearly 80% of all dependency petitions have alleged parental substance abuse, leading to abuse or neglect of more than 1000 children.  The initial goal for all dependency children is to reunify them safely with their families.  But state and local statutory timelines conflict with the parents'  treatment and recovery timeline, where relapses are expected, and coordinating the children's, parents', and family services quickly is a challenge for the system.  To date 58% of children are reunified with their families and about 15% of reunified children re-enter the dependency court system after they have been reunified. More about Pima County FDC available here.

Task Force on the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure

The Chief Justice established the Task Force in November 2014 and charged it with the enormous mission of revising all of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and submitting a petition to the Supreme Court by January 2016 (a little over a year). A similar exercise took the Federal Court more than seven years to achieve.  The goal was to rewrite the rules to make them easier to use and understand while furthering Goal 3 of the Arizona Supreme Court’s Strategic Agenda.  This project involved more than 17 Task Force meetings, and the devotion of more than 2,000 hours of members’ time to work group meetings, as well as many additional hours researching, drafting, and revising the rules outside of those meetings.  Use this link to view the Task Force webpage and draft rules.

Yuma County Juvenile Court

The Yuma County Juvenile Court has taken stock of its practices and implemented changes to make better use of its staff and resources while better serving the youth community.   The reforms included the use of evidence-based practices, the adoption of the Kids at Hope philosophy that all children are capable of success, without exception, and the use of community collaborations.  Three programs that best exemplify this effort are the Hope Assessment Center, Change Begins with Me (a life skills-based restitution program), and Aim for Success (a long-term detention stay program).  The Hope Assessment Center is designed to provide intervention services to children who have been referred to the Center by law enforcement, but who do not meet the established detention criteria.  During the past year, more than 300 families have received services through the center, most without the involvement of law enforcement.  Take an online tour of Yuma County Juvenile Detention Center here,and view Yuma County success stories.

And the 2016 Strategic Agenda Awards go to . . . 

Goal 1: Promoting Access to Justice
            AmeriCorps Program at Maricopa County Superior Court
Goal 2: Protecting Children, Families, and Communities
            Runaway Handbook developed by Dale Herren & Terra Sears, Mohave County Probation Department
Goal 3: Improving Court Processes to Better Serve the Public
            Guadalupe Municipal Court
Goal 4: Enhancing Professionalism within Arizona's Courts
            Court Mentoring Program at Superior Court in Pima County
Goal 5: Improving Communications and Community Participation
           Justice 2035 Strategic Planning Forum - Coconino County Courts and Stakeholders
Goal 4: Enhancing Professionalism within Arizona's Courts
Goal 4: Enhancing Professionalism within Arizona's Courts