The Arizona Supreme Court is Coming to ASU

On February 22, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University will host the Arizona Supreme Court oral arguments. Information on the oral arguments and case briefs are posted below.

Argument Format

Both parties are allowed 20 minutes to present their argument. The parties may allot some of their time for rebuttal. Following the oral arguments, a 20-minute Q&A session will be held. Last year’s Q&A session had questions ranging from “how does your background play in to deciding a case?” to “I’m a first year with no idea what type of law to practice—please help.”

The Cases

10:00 AM
State v. Wien (Henderson/Goodman)
This case involves a challenge to the 2002 Prop 103 amendment, which extended nonbailable offenses to crimes of sexual assault.
AZ Supreme Court’s Brief
Thomas Grimes’ Summary of the Arguments

10:45 AM
State v. Maestas
This case is centered around Arizona’s medical marijuana policy, which competes with the criminalization of marijuana at the federal level.
AZ Supreme Court’s Brief
Brandon Cartwright’s Summary of the Arguments
For even more context, here’s a Phoenix Sun Times article on the case.

What to Watch

It will be fun to gauge the temperature of the bench. A hot bench involves the court participating in the oral argument by asking questions and challenging the lawyer. A cold bench will let the lawyer present his argument with little or no feedback. Think Judge Judy as opposed to Clarence Thomas. The current justices frequently interrupt oral argument and challenge lawyers, leading to entertaining interactions.

The Makeup of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Arizona is made up of 7 justices: 1 Chief Justice, 1 Vice Chief Justice, and 5 Associate Justices. Justices are appointed by the Governor from a list provided by a bipartisan commission. After their appointment, justices must stand for a retention election at the 2-year mark and every 6 years thereafter. Justices must retire at the age of 70.

The current Chief Justice is Scott Bales. Bales is the lone Democrat on the bench and is flanked by 5 Republicans (Vice Chief Justice Brutinel, Justice Perlander, Justice Timmer, Justice Gould, and Justice Lopez IV) and one Libertarian (Justice Bolick).

Seating/Security Restrictions/Dress Code (as per the administration)

ALL students, faculty, staff and guests will go through security screening, which includes a metal detector. Court starts promptly at 10 a.m., so if I were you, I’d get there around 9 to ensure you get a good seat.

Dress is business casual attire, which means you should dress like you’re going to an interview. You can’t bring laptops, bulky jackets, book bags, food, or beverages – including bottled water – to court.

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