Glossary Terms

Affidavit: A document signed by a person who swears under oath that the facts or conduct described in that document are true. An affidavit must be signed and notarized by a notary public to confirm that the person who signed the affidavit presented proof of identity.

Affirm: The act of an appellate court concluding that a lower court decision is correct.

Amicus Curiae: A term meaning “friend of the court.” An amicus curiae brief is filed by a person or entity who is not a party to a case but has a strong interest in the matter.

Anders Brief: When an attorney in a criminal appeal or in a juvenile delinquency or incorrigibility appeal cannot find any non-frivolous issues, the attorney will file an Anders brief pursuant to the United States Supreme Court opinion in Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). An Anders brief will provide a detailed factual and procedural history of the case with citations to the record. A defendant in a criminal appeal may personally file a supplemental opening brief. The Arizona Court of Appeals will then review the case for arguable issues.

Appeal: A request made by a party seeking appellate court review of a lower court decision. An appeal begins when a timely notice of appeal is filed with the clerk of the superior court that entered the final judgment. Most appeals are made to the Arizona Court of Appeals from a decision by the superior court. The Arizona Supreme Court has jurisdiction to accept or reject review of final decisions by the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Appeals Board: A three-member board that reviews decisions by Administrative Law Judges with the Arizona Department of Economic Security and finalizes benefits, including unemployment, nutrition assistance, disability assistance, and adult protection benefits.

Appellant: A party that initiates an appeal by filing a notice of appeal.

Appellee: A party that responds to an appeal.

Appendix/Appendices: Supplemental documents, usually from the record on appeal, submitted in support of an appeal or petition for special action.

Application for Appeal: A document filed by a party aggrieved by a decision of the Arizona Department of Economic Security Appeals Board. The application is filed with the Clerk of the Appeals Board and requests that the Arizona Court of Appeals grant an appeal. The Court will then review the Appeals Board’s decision for error.

At Issue: The stage at which an appeal is ready to be assigned to a panel of judges, typically occurring after the record on appeal has been transmitted and briefing is complete.

Award—Workers’ Compensation: A decision by an Administrative Law Judge with the Industrial Commission of Arizona about a claim. Even if the claimant is denied a claim or benefit, the decision is referred to as an award.

AZTurboCourt: A website that allows parties to file documents electronically with the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.

Brief: A written argument that explains why a lower court decision should be reversed or affirmed by the Arizona Court of Appeals. The appellant files an opening brief, and the appellee files an answering brief. The appellant may then file a reply brief. If the appellee files a notice of cross-appeal, the appellee may file a combined answering and opening brief. The appellant may then file a combined reply and answering brief on cross-appeal. If so, the appellee may file a reply brief on cross-appeal.

Business Day: A business day does not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays. The day of the act or event from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period is included, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, in which case the deadline is the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. For example, if a document was due 15 days after December 8, 2023, the deadline would move from December 23, 2023 (a Saturday) to December 26, 2023 (a Tuesday).

Caption: A heading required on all documents filed with the Court. It typically contains the name and contact information of the party (or attorney) filing the document, identifies the court in which the case is filed, and states the parties’ names, the case number, and the title of the document.

Certificate of Compliance: A certificate confirming that a brief, petition, or response complies with the required content, length, or format.

Certificate of Service: A certificate listing the parties that have been served with the relevant documents, along with the date and method of service.

Citation: A reference to the record on appeal or legal precedent that supports a statement or argument.

Clerk’s Office: Each superior and appellate court in Arizona has an office for the clerk of that court. The clerk is a public official responsible for filing documents and keeping records of court proceedings.

Concession/Confession of Error: A party may concede reversible error and inform the court that they will not be contesting an issue.

Court Reporter: A person who records, by stenographic or electronic means, everything that is said during a court proceeding.

Defendant: In a civil case, the person or entity against whom a plaintiff files a lawsuit. In a criminal case, the person accused of a crime.

Decisional Order: A disposition of an appeal by written order instead of through an opinion or memorandum decision.

Decision Upon Review – Industrial Commission: A final decision issued by an Administrative Law Judge with the Industrial Commission of Arizona.

Delinquency Case: A proceeding in the juvenile court to determine whether a juvenile has committed an act that, if committed by an adult, would be a crime or violation of the law.

Dependency Case: A proceeding in the juvenile court where a party, typically the Arizona Department of Child Safety, has alleged a child is dependent on the state because the child has been abandoned, abused, or neglected and the child has no parent or guardian capable of adequately caring for the child.

Discretion: The legal authority of a court to make decisions based on its opinion, as guided by the applicable law.

Evidence: Testimony of witnesses, documents, or items admitted as exhibits, and facts agreed to by the parties. The Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court will only review evidence and arguments presented to the superior court.

Guardian Ad Litem: An attorney appointed by the court to protect the best interests of a party or as otherwise directed by the court.

Industrial Commission of Arizona: The agency regulating Arizona workers’ compensation.

Index of Record: A list prepared by the clerk of the superior court of all items from the record that are submitted to the appellate court for review, such as documents, pleadings, exhibits, and transcripts. The filings are listed in chronological order and assigned an index number as a citation reference.

Interlocutory: An act that occurs before a case is fully resolved in the superior court. An interlocutory decision or order describes a ruling made before the case is complete.

Judgment: A judgment is a document issued by the superior court indicating that it is a determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in the case. This can be in the form of a document entitled “judgment,” “minute entry,” “ruling,” “order,” or “decree.” The judge must electronically or manually sign the judgment for it to be considered final or appealable.

Jurisdiction: The legal authority of a court to adjudicate cases and issue orders.

Lawsuit: A legal action initiated by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a civil complaint.

Memorandum Decision: A written disposition of an appeal that is not intended as legal precedent and is not distributed for publication.

Motion: A written request to a court seeking relief or action.

Non-Compliant Document: A document that does not comply with the applicable rules of procedure regarding content, length, or format. The court will not consider a non-compliant document.

Notice of Acknowledgement: A notice filed instead of an answering brief, reply brief, or response to a petition for review that acknowledges the filing of a brief or petition for review.

Nunc Pro Tunc: A term meaning “now for then,” which describes the legal authority of a court to correct the record at a later date to reflect what actually occurred in a previous proceeding.

Opinion: A written disposition of an appeal that is intended as legal precedent and is distributed for publication.

Oral Argument: An oral argument is an opportunity for the parties to appear in person at a time set by the appellate court to discuss the issues presented in the briefs with the assigned panel.

Order: A written direction or command delivered by a court.

Order to Show Cause Hearing: An order for a person to appear before the Arizona Court of Appeals to explain their non-compliance with a court order and demonstrate why sanctions should not be imposed.

Panel: The three appellate judges assigned to review the case and issue a decision. The panel will decide whether to affirm, reverse, remand, or vacate the superior court’s decision.

Plaintiff: A person or entity that files a complaint with a court.

Petition: A written request that seeks a court order and states the reasons why it is needed. Some forms of relief must be requested through a petition rather than a motion, complaint, or brief.

Petitioner: A party requesting relief by filing a petition.

Petition for Review - PRPC: A written request for the Arizona Court of Appeals to review a decision by the superior court in a criminal post-conviction relief proceeding. Petitions for Review Post Conviction are often referred to in an abbreviated manner as PRPC cases.

Petition for Review – Arizona Supreme Court: A written request for the Arizona Supreme Court to review a decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Pro Bono: A term meaning “for the public good.” An attorney who takes a case pro bono has agreed to provide services free of charge.

Pro Se or Pro Per: Terms meaning “on one’s own behalf” or “in their own person.” Such terms can be used interchangeably and apply to parties that have chosen to represent themselves in court proceedings without an attorney.

Publication: An appellate court opinion is submitted to publishing companies to be printed in official reporters. A published opinion may be cited to or relied upon as legal precedent. All decisions of the court are public record and appear on the court’s website regardless of whether or not they are considered “published” from the legal publishing company perspective.

Record on Appeal: In most cases, the record on appeal consists of documents filed in the superior court, exhibits admitted in trial or an evidentiary hearing, and transcripts of court proceedings.

Record on Appeal—Benefits: In unemployment and other benefits cases, the record on appeal consists of the Arizona Department of Economic Security “case file” about the hearing being appealed. The record includes a transcript of the hearing, all exhibits, the notice of hearing, any documents that were issued or filed as part of the review process of the Appeals Board, and documents that accompanied the application for appeal. These documents are not available to the public, although court employees can access them to process the appeal.

Record on Appeal—Workers’ Compensation: In a workers’ compensation case, the record on appeal consists of the Industrial Commission of Arizona “claims file” about the claimant’s assertions and the “hearing file” about the hearing being appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. These documents are not available to the public, although court employees can access them to process the appeal.

Remand: The act of an appellate court sending a case back to a lower court for further action consistent with the opinion, memorandum decision, or decisional order.

Reverse: The act of an appellate court setting aside a lower court decision.

Respondent: In a special action, the official, agency, or entity whose action (or inaction) is being challenged. In other types of proceedings, the party opposed to the petitioner.

Response: A written statement filed to respond to a motion, complaint, or petition. In a special action, the response is generally filed by the real party in interest.

Sealed: An item that is not viewable to the public by court order. The item cannot be accessed by the public absent the granting of a motion, but it can be viewed by court staff for processing the appeal or petition. Such items typically contain sensitive or confidential information.

Service: The act of one party delivering a copy of a legal document to the other party or parties. Service may be personal (hand-delivered) or by mail. A party may also agree to be served electronically (via email or TurboCourt), or a court may order electronic service. If the other party has an attorney, the documents must be served on the attorney. If the other party does not have an attorney, the documents must be served on the other party at their last known address unless they have consented to electronic service.

Settlement: An agreement ending a dispute or lawsuit.

Special Action: A proceeding brought to seek relief against a body, officer, or person. Except as authorized by statute, relief by special action is unavailable when there is an equally plain, speedy, and adequate remedy by direct appeal.

Special Action Jurisdiction: The legal authority of a court to consider the subject matter of a special action proceeding and grant relief. The exercise of special action jurisdiction is highly discretionary and particularly appropriate in cases that present issues of statewide importance, first impression, or that are likely to recur.

Standard of Review: The amount of deference an appellate court gives when reviewing a lower court decision. The appellate court applies different standards of review to particular issues or decisions, which can include a review for an abuse of discretion, fundamental error, harmless error, or structural error. The appellate court reviews some issues de novo, meaning “anew” or “from the beginning,” and will decide the issue without deference to the lower court decision.

Statute: A law passed by the legislature.

Statute of Limitations: A law setting forth the time within which a lawsuit must be filed, or a criminal prosecution must begin.

Statutory Special Action: A special action that is expressly authorized by statute in a particular circumstance.

Stay: A temporary suspension of a judgment, execution, or legal proceeding. A stay request filed in the Arizona Court of Appeals may ask to stay superior or appellate court proceedings.

Strike: A court order that eliminates testimony or a filed document from the jury’s consideration, or from the record on appeal. A filed document can be stricken for numerous reasons, including non-compliance with the rules or the use of confidential information.

Subpoena: A command by a court that a witness appear and give testimony.

Superior Court: This refers to the “trial court” in each of Arizona’s 15 counties. The superior court handles most civil cases and criminal cases involving violations of state law. An appeal from a final decision in the superior court is made to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Termination of Parental Rights: An order from the juvenile court permanently ending or severing a parent’s legal rights, privileges, duties, and obligations to their child.

Transcript: An official verbatim record of a proceeding prepared by a certified court reporter or authorized transcriber.

Vacate: The act of an appellate court stripping a lower court decision or judgment of its effect.

Verdict: The decision of a jury or judge determining the final outcome of a civil case or the innocence or guilt of a criminal defendant.

Witness: A person called to give testimony before a jury or judge.

Writ of Review—Workers’ Compensation: An order issued by the Clerk of the Arizona Court of Appeals directing the Industrial Commission of Arizona to certify its records, proceedings, and evidence to the Arizona Court of Appeals.