Going to Court in Arizona: The Tempe Municipal Court
Interviewer: If someone is cited or arrested and you have to go to Tempe Municipal, what’s their experience going to be like? Where is the court located?
Mike Munoz: Tempe Municipal Court is in Tempe on 5th Street in Tempe. When you go to the Tempe Municipal Court, it’s a complex that is near Mill Avenue which is the popular area in Tempe; it’s also next to Arizona State University. The complex itself has also the Tempe Police Station built into it.
It’s a modern building, has a lot of glass. You go through the front doors and you immediately have to go through security. Once you go through security, you’re in a main lobby and all the criminal courts are on the second floor.
Tempe Municipal Court Has 3 Separate Courts
The Tempe Municipal Court has three separate courts, three separate judges that have court rooms that go different days of the week. If you have a criminal case in the Tempe Municipal Court, you’d go to the elevator, you’d go to the second floor, and then you’d go to your appropriate court, which would be One, Two, or Three.
On the first level of the court is the traffic courts for speeding tickets, red light tickets, violations of that nature and they also have the fines management area where you pay for your fines and arrange payment plans.
When you arrive to the Tempe Municipal Court, parking is a big deal. Directly south of the courthouse on 5th Street is a parking garage. If you park in the parking garage, you can walk directly across the street; it’s the best place to park. You bring your parking stub with you into the courthouse, and when you come back you’ll get one hour free parking.
Felony Cases in Maricopa County Are Heard in Superior Court
Interviewer: What are the felony courts that people will go to if they are accused of a felony?
In Felony Cases, the Client Has to Appear at Every Hearing
Mike Munoz: In Maricopa County and all the other major counties in Arizona, the felony courts are run by the Superior Court system. Superior Courts have jurisdiction over felonies and misdemeanors. Those courts look more formal, more serious charges. People who have cases in the superior court, they have to appear at every single hearing. The attorney will appear with you, but the client has to be there as well.
Interviewer: What Superior Courts do you appear in regularly?
Mike Munoz: I appear regularly at Maricopa County Superior Court. I have some cases in the Pinal County Superior Court. We practice state-wide, but those are the majority of the courts that I’m practicing in.
Chandler Municipal Court
Interviewer: Going back to the Municipal and the Justice Courts, so we talked about attending Municipal Court, what’s the next most frequent court that you’ll appear in?
Mike Munoz: The next court that I appear in probably the most is probably the Chandler Municipal Court. The Chandler Municipal Court is close to downtown Chandler. It’s very similar to Tempe in the sense that it’s close to the city center. The Chandler Municipal Court has excellent parking. They have shaded parking actually right in front of the courthouse so people can park and during the summer that’s actually really helpful. It’s not a garage so you don’t need a ticket.
There Are 3 Courtrooms in the Chandler Municipal Court
In the Chandler Municipal Court, once again you go through security and all the criminal court rooms are on the second floor. There they have three courtrooms with three separate judges that you may have your court case in.
Each Court Has Its Own Prosecutor’s Offices and Judges
Interviewer: So out of the different courts, how well do you know the judges in all these different courts, and the prosecutors? Can you give people a feel for what’s going to happen based on the people they’ll be in front of in each court?
Mike Munoz: Yes, yes, we practice enough in all of the courts in Maricopa County to have an idea of who the assigned prosecutor is likely going to be, and who the judge is in each courtroom. This stems only from professional experience, not because we know them personally. But we practice in these courts enough to know who the prosecutor in this court is and who the judge is in this court.
An Attorney That Frequently Practices in These Courts Can Usually Provide the Client with Insights on the Prosecutors and Judges
That is helpful in terms of giving the clients insight in terms of what we’re looking at in the future. Every different prosecuting agency has their own policies and procedures on how to handle cases. Knowing those and how they differ from other agencies can be important when you are advising your client of what kind of potential issues they are looking at for the case.