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home : opinions : opinions November 25, 2015

8/20/2013 11:01:00 AM
Guest column: news from the Williams Justice Court
Rob Krombeen
Justice of the Peace

One of the interesting facets of being judge has been the challenge of communicating to defendants who appear in court that when they are told they are "presumed innocent," the court does not know anything about their case except the charge filed and the facts specific to that charge. People sometimes comment that they think the judge has access to police reports or other detailed information regarding the case. The need for being impartial not only precludes the judge from seeing or knowing that information, but also precludes any discussions with individual parties pertaining to a case pending in the court. This impartiality also extends beyond the case, as a foundational principle of the courts. The courts, as a separate branch of our government, remain independent of the other branches of government, and avoid having the political affairs of the legislative or executive branches affect the decisions and procedures of the court.

Recently, the Williams Justice and Municipal courts underwent an on-site operational review by the Arizona Supreme Court's Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The review included case and financial records review, employee interviews and observation, and judicial/courtroom observation and review. AOC Court Services Specialist Jennifer Mendoza and Court Financial Specialist Jennifer Jones met with Court Manager Jennifer Carter and me to discuss their initial findings from the review. We were elated after an exhaustive week of anticipation to be told that the AOC's specialists rated our court an "A minus" with an informal initial rating. The financial specialist made comments that she had "never seen a court" which handled outstanding bond monies as well and efficiently as our court, and that the staff was "very, very good" regarding collections and other procedures. We were also pleased to receive feedback and input to improve our standards. That initial review only confirms what we have known for some time now-that we have the best staff available. We appreciate all of the diligent efforts that all of the staff has contributed over this past year to the success of our courts.

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