Veterans Court Podcast Transcript

Interview with Judge Greg Maxon

Q=Chief Justice Scott Bales

A=Judge Greg Maxon



Q:    Hello. I’m Scott Bales, Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. In this edition of the arizonacourthelp.org podcast, we are joined by Judge Greg Maxon. He is a longtime advocate for veterans and was instrumental in the launch of several veteran’s court around Arizona. Judge Maxon currently presides over veteran’s cases in the East Valley Regional Veteran’s Court.  Judge, could you tell us what exactly a Veteran’s Court is?

A:    Well what I explain to the veterans coming into Veteran’s Court is we have a number of therapeutic courts in our system. And, you know, we have homeless courts, we have drug courts, and the mental health courts. And they deal with particular issues. And what I explain to the veterans participating in my court is that we deal with a particular population. We find that veterans have some particular issues, unique issues. But they also have some unique resources available to them to address those issues. And what we try and do is we try and use those resources to get them engages in therapy and treatment to address the reason why they’re in the court.

Q:    So is it a particular courthouse that people go to as distinct from other kinds of courts?

A:    Well in our case, Tempe hosts the regional courts so they come to the Tempe Municipal Court. But there’s no place called the Veteran’s Court as a stand alone place. It’s a separate docket that each court sets up specifically for veterans to have their cases heard.

Q:    So is the common thread that veterans are involved in the cases?

A:    Yes. To be involved in the Veteran’s Court, you have to have served in the military at some point in your life.

Q:    So what would be an example of a kind of case that might come before your court?

A:    Well most of the courts, in fact all the courts here in Arizona that do veterans cases, they’re criminal cases. And mostly at the misdemeanor level. Although Coconino County and Pinal County have got veterans courts and they do address felony cases there. But predominance is misdemeanor cases. And usually in the Justice of the Peace Court or the Municipal Court.

Q:    And how would the handling of one of those cases differ in a veteran’s court as compared to if it went through the ordinary court process?

A:    Well when somebody comes to Veteran’s Court, they’re told up front that we don’t do any contested cases. This is a therapeutic court. And if they want to be in Veteran’s Court, then we’ll get them evaluated and lay out a plan of treatment for them. And to be successful in the court they need to follow that plan of treatment and complete it as we set it out for ‘em.

Q:    How is that you became interested in this kind of a therapeutic court?

A:    Well I spent 35 years in the military myself and then I spent about a year and a half as a director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. And that’s where I really started learning about some of the issues that our men and women are facing as they come home from overseas assignments. We have a lot of folks that served in combat over the last 15 years. And when they come home they have a hard time getting re-integrated back in their communities and sometimes they find themselves involved in the criminal justice system.

Q:    You know, I suspect a lot of our listeners realize that in Arizona we have a large number of military bases. But I’m curious. What is the presence more generally in terms of veterans in our community?

A:    Well there are no exact numbers but the best estimates are there is somewhere between 600 and 650,000 veterans in Arizona. Which is about 10% of our population.

Q:    Boy that sounds like a lot of people. You serve for the East Valley Regional Veterans Court. What exactly is its jurisdiction?

A:    Well we have seven cities that participate in this court and it’s hosted by the Tempe Municipal Court so our sessions are all held there. And as we were talking about establishing veterans’ courts in the East Valley, we came up the the idea that maybe having the courts travel to a central location where we have all the services, it is much easier for our service providers. And they are the key to making these courts work as having your service providers right there in the courts so they can work with the veterans as they come into court. And rather than have, you know, “This is Tuesday so we got to go to Chandler.” Or, “This is Thursday. We gotta go to Tempe.” Let’s have it all in one place. And we have set dockets. Each jurisdiction maintains their own docket. We don’t mix cases from different jurisdictions on any one docket. But the key thing is we have those service providers. Those folks that are working with our veterans as they’re going through their treatment in the courtroom with us. And so we've got four major participants. We’ve got Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Chandler. And they all have separate dockets. Then we also have Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley and Carefree Cave creek. And we don’t see a lot of cases from them so we do blend those cases in with our other dockets. And then the prosecutors for those cities whose docket it is, they’ve been authorized by those cities to handle the cases.

Q:    Well it sounds like you take in a pretty good portion of Maricopa County. Are there Veteran’s Courts in other parts of the state?

A:    Well there are. In fact, Mesa has a very active court. Phoenix started their court back in 2012 and in about 18 months became the largest veterans court in the country. I think that kind of gives it a good idea of how much demand there is for these kinds of services. Across the state we’ve got about 17 Veteran’s Courts that encompass about 26 different jurisdictions. We’ve got a number of regional courts. Tucson has five cities in their court. La Paz County started a Veteran’s Court and they’ve got five jurisdictions. Two cities and three Justice of the Peace precincts participating in their court.

Q:    And I know you’ve been involved in helping set up those kinds of courts around the state. Is this something that we’re still trying to expand?

A:    We are. And right now I think we’re limited by the resources the VA has. And the key to getting these other courts started is working very closely with the VA and give ‘em plenty of lead time so they know the courts are coming and they can start planning for the resources. We’ve been very fortunate with our VA hospitals here in the state. They have expanded their services and hired more people just to accommodate our veterans in our Veteran’s Courts.

Q:    Judge you mentioned that it’s important to connect the veterans with different service providers. What exactly is a service provider? Can you give some examples?

A:    Well the main service provider that we use is the VA itself. They’ve got, you know, they understand veterans. They got great programs for veterans. And many of the courts though will take veterans who are not eligible for VA services for a number of reasons. So what we do is we find those community providers that we can connect with. There are a lot of times the same community providers that are providing services for people who are involved in say DUI cases. Things like that. But we try, we get these men and women connected with them. And then we monitor their progress through that treatment as they go through it.

Q:    So for example would they be able to obtain substance abuse treatment in that kind of a program?

A:    Substance abuse treatment, domestic violence treatment, anger management, there’s just a whole list of treatment programs that we have these men and women engage in. Most of those programs, with the exception of domestic violence, are offered by the VA. So if they’re VA eligible, we know the quality of those programs and we refer folks over there. But for those that aren’t eligible for the VA, we just used the same community providers that the other courts would use if they were addressing those cases. But we try and get them to a point where there’s a warm hand-off. You know, from the court to those providers where we set it up so they go there, they’re expected and they’re not just calling them off of a list.

Q:    So I take it that part of the reason you refer to veteran’s courts as therapeutic courts is one they do is they connect people with these kinds of services.

A:    Yes. And quite honestly to be successful in the court they’ve got to complete the programs we set out for ‘em.

Q:    So without asking you to identify any one by name, could you describe a case where you think the Veteran’s Court really helped someone. I’d be curious just to understand how it impacts individuals.

A:    Well a lot of the case are fairly routine. But I do have two examples that are kind of on the extreme edge and but had good results, our very first docket in Tempe where we started our Tempe Veteran’s Court, um, I had the veterans stand up and introduce themselves. And there was one gentleman in a wheelchair. And he had been hurt in the first golf war back in the early 90’s. He had a spinal injury and so he couldn’t stand up to introduce himself. And when I finally called his case up, I asked him, “Well how are things going?” And he ‘d been arrested for a DUI. And he looked me in the eye and said I’m going to put a gun in my mouth and kill myself. And come to find out he had a few days earlier, fallen out of his wheelchair and it was 15 hours before somebody found him. He had a lot of friends so to speak as long as his VA checks were coming in. So, I mean that was kind of the environment he was in. And I think he felt that life was just to hard. And for him, killing himself seemed like a reasonable alternative. And so I asked him if he’d been to the VA. And he said he had a bad experience. I said, “Well just work with us. Give us a chance.” Within the week they had in home healthcare set up for him. They’d set him up for rides where he was spending $900 a month on just taxis because he lost his license. He couldn’t drive. And so they got the services in there. And ten months later we actually graduated from him. And his graduation speech or talk, he said, “The luckiest thing in my life was I got arrested. ‘Cause otherwise I probably would have killed myself. And so we got him connected with the right kind of services to address his issues. We got him the help he was needing but he just didn’t know how to find it. The other case I had on my docket for about a year and a half. And this was a young man who was a combat medic and had seen some horrific things in Iraq. Very serious case of PTSD but his, the number one issue we really needed to deal with as substance abuse. HE came in court and he looked intoxicated and I had a Tempe Police Officer come in and we breathalyzed him in court. And he was almost a .3. So I took him into custody. I said, “I’m finding you in contempt of court. For coming into court drunk. I took him into custody. We immediately released him from custody into a 90 day in-patient treatment program over at the VA. He stayed with that program. He stayed in what we call After Care for about a year after that. And we finally got him engaged in his trauma treatment for his PTSD. And we graduated him about six months ago.

Q:    Wow. It must be gratifying to work on those kinds of cases. Do you have some suggestions generally for veterans or their families about what they can do if they find themselves sort of caught up in a criminal legal problem?

A:    Well the first thing is if they’re a Veteran, ask the court if they have a Veteran’s Court program. Not all courts due. In fact, most don’t. But many do so if they ask that question. And then just understand that if you engage in the Veteran’s Court program, you know, we’re not gonna concern ourselves right away with guilt or innocence. We’re more focused on what do we need to do with this veteran to get him back on the right path. And we don’t just focus on medical treatment. WE also work with them on housing, employment, getting their VA benefits, filing for a disability claims, getting their education benefits - getting them enrolled in school. So we really try and do everything we can to get him back into that - to be competitive in the community. Both in their daily activities but also in the job market.

Q:    Well Judge it sounds like the Veteran’s Courts are a great resource both for the veterans and for our communities more broadly. I thank you for your leadership and helping develop them across our state. And I also thank you for our service to our country.

A:    OH thank you very much.

Q:    And I thank our listeners for listening to this azcourthelp.org podcast. It’s sponsored and produced by your Arizona Supreme Court. AZCourtHelp.org is a virtual legal resource center offering legal help to everyday people. You can go online to find more podcasts and help for a variety of legal matters. And Judge, I know there’s an online resource specifically related to veteran’s issues. Could you identify that for our listeners?

A:    Yes. A few years ago the Arizona Supreme Court helped sponsor a website called Law for Vets. And the website is www.lawforveterans.org and it’s the state bar foundation that operates it under the sponsorship of the Arizona Supreme Court. And it’s a wealth of information. Not just on criminal issues, but housing issues, employment issues, benefits issues. So if somebody has a legal issue and they’re veterans, I encourage them to look at that website just to see if there’s some information on there that they can use to help address that issue.

Q:    Thank you for listening to this AZCourtHelp.org podcast. For more information on this and other topics, visit AZCourtHelp.org.

Protective Orders Podcast Transcript

Interview with Judge Wendy Million
Q=Justice Ann Scott Timmer
A=Judge Wendy Million

Q:    Hello. And welcome to this edition of the AZCourtHelp.org podcast series. My name is Ann Scott Timmer and I’m a Justice on the Arizona Supreme Court. Today we’ll be talking about orders of protection with Judge Wendy Million. Some people might be familiar with the term restraining order or protective order. But in Arizona, if you’re a victim of an assault or other violent crime by a family member, an intimate partner, a roommate, a household member, you can go to a court to request an Order of Protection. If you are a victim of harassment by anyone, whether or not they are related to you, you can obtain an Injunction Against Harassment. Joining me today is Judge Wendy Million. Judge Million started with the Tucson City Court’s Domestic Violence Court in 2013. Welcome Judge Million.
A:    Thank you.

Q:    So Judge Million, what happens if you have a situation in your household where you’re getting harassed by a family member or a roommate, or somebody that you live with? What can someone do?
A:    You certainly can come to the court and apply for a Protective Order. If it’s someone that you live with or a family member or an intimate partner, someone you have a child in common with even if you don’t live with them, you get a Domestic Violence Protective Order. If it’s someone that you’re not related to in one of those relationships, then you could apply for an Injunction Against Harassment.

Q:    So now, say I have that situation. Where do I go to get one of these orders?
A:    All of the courts in Arizona have to issue these orders. So you could go to any court in the state and ask for one of these orders. Ask to apply for one of these orders.

Q:    So I could go to a Justice of the Peace and ask for one?
A:    Yeah.

Q:    And the City Court?
A:    Mm-hm.

Q:    And I assume that they all have websites which will explain what I am to do?
A:    I think that most of them do. You can also go to AZCourtHelp.org. And also on that website there are several translated forms in different languages to help people who might need language access.

Q:    Do I have to go down myself or can I file something online?
A:    I don’t believe that any of the courts right now have the ability to file a protective order online. You have to see a Judge in person because they’re gonna want to put you under oath and talk to you about the facts.

Q:    Do I have to have an appointment with the Judge?
A:    No. You can walk in to any of these courts. Now the one caveat to that is in smaller courts, it may not have a Judge every day. They can send you down the road. For example, they have to have an agreement with another court. But most courts that are there every day, you can walk in and apply for an order.

Q:    What would I have to bring with me to apply?
A:    You don’t have to bring anything with you except that what I suggest is a list of dates and incidents. Because you’re going to be filling that out on a form and the more detailed and specific you can be, the more it helps the Judge in deciding whether to grant that order.

Q:    Do I need to bring down any witnesses?
A:    No. Not for what we call the ex-parte order which is the order where it’s just you asking the Judge for the order. If the order gets granted and served, then the defendant will have the right to have a hearing. And if the hearing is set, then that’s when you should bring witnesses and more evidence.

Q:    Do I have to hire an attorney to get one of these orders of protection?
A:    No. Most people represent themselves in these cases and the clerks will help you. They won’t help you fill it out, but they’ll give you instructions and we’re all very familiar with people who don’t have attorneys doing these kinds of processes.

Q:    Does it cost money?
A:    It does not cost money if it’s a protective order. For an Injunction Against Harassment you can be charged a filing fee and then you might have to pay a process fee too for service.

Q:    What if somebody is in grave danger and needs immediate help and it’s the middle of the night, something like that, and the courts aren’t open?
A:    In that case a police officer can help that victim apply for an emergency order of protection. They can come to the scene. They can call a Judge. And that order could be issued for that victim to use until the next court business day. Then they’d have to come get a regular order.

Q:    So what happens once - what does the Judge do with my application? Where does it go from there?
A:    Well when you get to the Clerk of the Court’s office, they’ll give you the paperwork to fill out. There’s gonna be some instructions that you really should pay attention to. For example, if you do have a hearing later, you can only talk about the things that you’ve listed in the petition. So you want to make sure that you list every incident that you consider to be domestic violence or harassment. The Judge will bring you in and put you under oath and ask you about these incidents. And they make a decision whether or not to issue that order. And what the order says can depend on what you tell the Judge. Where you don’t want this person to be, if you don’t want them to have contact, things like that.

Q:    What if I’m not here in this country legally? Can I still come to the court or will I just be arrested?
A:    No. You certainly can come to the court and that is not allowed to be taken into consideration at all, the fact that you may not have legal status.

Q:    So if the Judge then issues this order, how is it delivered to the person I’m trying to get protection from?
A:    In most places, the order will be served by your local law enforcement agency. Sometimes a process server will serve it. But you need to be aware of the fact that if that person is living in the house with you, make sure that the court knows that. Because we certainly don’t want a process server to be serving that order with you still in the house and that person there. That could put you in danger. So a lot of times you can take the order with you and call the police to have it served.

Q:    Will they let me know when the order is served?
A:    Yes. I think that the agencies vary in how they give notice, but you will be able to find out when the order’s been served.

Q:    If I get a long term order of protection, how long will it go? Is that forever?
A:    It’s good for a year from when it’s been served. And the defendant does have a right to have a hearing any time within that year so its valid after service. And then there might be a hearing some time during that year long period.

Q:    What do I do if the defendant approaches me regardless of the order of protection?
A:    That’s when you call the police. Because you should carry that order of protection with you all the time. And we often advise that you should give it to your work place. You should let, you know, if our children’s school is included on it for example, give it to the people that it may affect or so they understand why you want the police called.

Q:    Judge Million, what happens if the person that I’m afraid of has guns or knives or some other kinds of weapons that I’m scared about him having that?
A:    Well when you apply for a protective order, the Judge has to ask if there are firearms involved. And if the Judge finds that the defendant could pose a credible threat to the petitioner or the protected parties, then the Judge can order that that person not possess firearms and that they have to turn them into law enforcement. And that prohibition would last through the length of the protective order.

Q:    What if I change my mind while the order’s in effect but we’re getting along better and I decide that I want to start seeing the defendant? Then what do I do?
A:    What you need to remember is that only a Judge can change that order. It’s a court order so do not just invite the defendant back. Go to the court and talk to the Judge and explain why you want to have this order dismissed. Otherwise the defendant could still be arrested for violating that order even if you invited that person back into your home or into contact with you.

Q:    If I get the order against maybe my ex-husband and we were trading off children with a child situation? Do I have to make sure I don’t see my ex-husband?
A:    What happens with those kind of situations is you might end up being referred to the court that is in charge of your family law case and that’s usually the best place to go. Because you don’t want that order to conflict with your visitation or custody order. So lower court Judges will send you back to Superior Court, back to family court if you have a case pending or you have family visitation rules in place. Because you don’t want to have two different orders that say two different things.

Q:    Are there any other resources out there in the community for someone who maybe needs help beyond what the court can offer in terms of an order of protection?
A:    The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available and the number is 1-800-799-7233. Most of the counties in Arizona have victim services agencies. Azcourts.gov have some of these links on their website. On the azcourts website there’s a safety plan, there’s information on who to contact. And victims should remember they can always contact their local advocacy agency and have a safety plan so they are ready to make sure their family members are safe whether or not they get an order. What we also encourage you to do is if you’re worried about looking that kind of information up while you’re in your home, you might want to go to the library, some place else where you can access a public computer so that the person that you’re scared of doesn’t see what kind of resources you’re looking for.

Q:    Well Judge Million, thank you for your time today. This concludes today’s www.AZCourtHelp.org podcast. Thanks for listening and be sure to check out our other episodes.

Man:    Thank you for listening to this AZCourtHelp.org podcast. For more information on this and other topics, visit AZCourtHelp.org.

Adoption Podcast Transcript

Interview with Judge Maurice Portley
Q=Justice Robert Brutinel
A=Judge Maurice Portley


Q:    This episode of the AZCourtHelp.org podcast is sponsored by the Arizona Supreme Court. Hello. I’m Bob Brutinel. I’m the Vice Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, but before joining the Supreme Court, I was a juvenile judge in Yavapai County, and I handled numerous adoptions. In this edition of the podcast, we are joined by Judge Maurice Portley, who recently retired from the Arizona Court of Appeals. Prior to his career as an appellate judge, however, Judge Portley was the presiding juvenile judge in Maricopa County. Throughout his career, he’s demonstrated a commitment to children and families, and in finding permanent homes for children. He’s still a regular participant in Maricopa County’s Adoption Day. Judge Portley, how many children are available for adoption in Arizona in any given month?
A:    Well, Justice, there are a lot of children that are available. The latest statewide figures would indicate there’s several thousands of children in search of forever homes. Whether it’s now, in previous years, or probably in future years. In fact, during the last fiscal year, there were 10,000 children who were adopted, while another 17,000 or so were reunited with their families as a resulted of the dependency process. Now, those numbers will rise and fall, depending upon what’s happening in the economy. A struggling economy and people are struggling, they may have more difficulties, and more children will come into care. Or right now, we’re facing the opioid crisis. Much like we faced crack cocaine and methamphetamine. You know, children who are born exposed to drugs will probably be removed from their parents’ care and may become available for adoption later on.

Q:    I’m sure you’re experience is similar to mine in that there are always more kids who need adoptive placements than there are adoptive placements available. If someone’s listening and they’re interesting in how they adopt or how the process works, can you tell us a little bit about what adoption is and how it works in Arizona?
A:    You bet. Adoption is the legal process of becoming a parent to a child. It’s also the legal process of becoming the parent to an adult child. ‘Cause we have adoptions for infants and toddlers and older children. But also, in some cases, for adults. Now, once you become a parent through the adoption process, you have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent. The duty to protect the child. The responsibility to provide for the child with food, with shelter, education, healthcare, and whatever else the child needs to become a successful adult and, like the rest of us, pay into the social security system.

Q:    So as an adoptive parent, will the child I adopt still have contact with their natural parents?
A:    Well, that will depend upon what you, as the adoptive parent, would like to do. There are cases that we call open adoption where the adoptive parent sends the former parent a picture and an update of what’s going on. And I also know - my wife was a social worker and placed children for adoption, and we followed some of those kids - an adoptive child will always want to know their parent. They’ll want to reach out, at some point in time, and if you take away - if you let them have the contact, okay, and they’re not under the misimpression that that would be better than the discipline and the rules that you’re providing, you know, they may see and understand and appreciate the love and care without putting that other person, you know, in a fantasy light.

Q:    I’m an adoptive parent, and that’s exactly what happened to us. When my daughter turned 18, she wanted to find out about her natural parents, and she went and did that and then she came back.
A:    Yeah. Yeah. We stayed in contact with two of the children my wife placed for adoption, and both knew they were adopted early on. And both, before they were 18, you know, got to meet their birth mom, and came back and said nothing more, you know?

Q:    But the bottom line is, that’s a decision for the adoptive parent to make. At least until the child turns 18.
A:    That’s correct. That’s correct.

Q:    What about siblings? How frequently do they have contact, or can they have contact, with their siblings?
A:    Well, they can have contact with their siblings. But, again, that’s going to be the role of the adoptive parent. Now, sometimes, a parent will adopt a sibling group. Whether two or three or four. But, you know, the adoptive parent and the parent of the other siblings will have to work that out. Because it is important. One of the things that happens is that siblings have a unique bond and though you may fight like cats and dogs, it’s you against the world. And you’re gonna know that person is out there and you’re going to be thinking about that person. And so the adoptive parent has a chance to working with the other parent and altogether to make it work, you know, for the children.

Q:    Interestingly for me, in the era of Facebook and social media, it seems like it’s a lot easier for children - sibling pairs - to stay in contact, as well as to find your adoptive parents early in the process. A:    Not only, you know, but finding your birth parents. Yes. And recently the Arizona Republic had a story where Judge (Randy Howell), through a DNA test, found out about his family and so he’ll be meeting with them this summer. His birth mom’s not ready for that yet, but it provided information that he didn’t know, and didn’t exist back when we were pup judges.

Q:    So if I’m an Arizona resident and I want to find out more about the process of adopting a child, how do I do that?
A:    Well, a good place to start is with the internet. You look for an adoption agency, or you look for an adoption lawyer. ‘Cause there’s all sorts of ways of getting information, and most agencies will have some information on their website. And then, if you’re interested, then you can start the process. Another way, as you’re thinking about it, is come to any of the National Adoption celebrations that are going on in our various counties in Arizona in November. It’s generally done a week or 10 days before Thanksgiving, ‘cause it is a wonderful time to celebrate. And, at those celebrations, you get to meet adoption agencies. You get to see the process. You probably can even talk to people at their happiest about how the process worked. Because, you know, once you start, you’ve got to fill out an application and then there’s an orientation and a training program, and they look into your fitness about your ability to adopt the child, into your background, your criminal history - if any - references, social history, finances. You know, your mental and physical health. To ensure that, if you’re a fit person, that you can meet the challenges to be a parent.

Q:    Now, I can adopt through the CPS, the Child Welfare System, here in Arizona. I can also adopt through a child welfare agency or an adoption agency, rather. Can you talk a little bit about what the difference is there? And why I might want to do one or the other?
A:    Oh, I don’t think I can. I think you have to explore that.

Q:    Yeah.
A:    I don’t think I can. There are children available, and I think the first thing a prospective adoptive parents wants to do is figure out, “What age do I want? Do I want an infant? Do I want a toddler? Do I want someone older?” And then you can look at the opportunities that may exist. Whether through the Department of Child Safety - DCS, which we all knew back in the day as CPS - or through a private adoption agency. Now, sometimes those children may well be the same, and sometimes they may be independent. And, you know, a young mom may give her child up for adoption voluntarily, or leave under the Safe Haven program a child in a fire station or church or hospital and then walk away. And, you know, a young parent can do that if the child is less than 72 hours old. But, you know, those are things I think the parent will have to explore and look at, you know?

Q:    So you really need to spend some time thinking about what you want the addition to your family to look like?
A:    Oh, to look like, and then how you’re going to handle the challenges. You know, in talking to adoptive families, you know, is it merely nurturing that makes a difference to these children? Or is it nature? Or some combination? And, you know, even when you build your own child, there are a lot of challenges.

Q:    Absolutely.
A:    And no two children in a family are alike, you know? You know, just to think about Justice (Scalia), with nine children, you know? I’d be pulling my hair out with that. Luckily, one became a priest. But until he got them into the adulthood, they’re all going to be wonderful little individuals that you’re going to have to figure out, and none of them come with an instruction book.

Q:    And your point is that’s true whether you have them biologically or whether you adopt them?
A:    I think so. I think so. And if you adopt, what you’re saying is, “I’m committing to you forever and ever.” And you have to get out of your mind the notion that, “I can return them,” because when they’re probably pushing you away is when you need them most. I had a situation when I was on the juvenile court where a child was having mental health problems and it was probably three or four months before his 18th birthday, and the parents wanted to terminate their rights to him. And they had him since Day 3. And I talked them off the ledge, because it was important to get him evaluated, to see what services would be available for him after he became 18. Because especially young parents - and I remember I was this way for a long time - you think your job’s over when they’re 18 or when they graduate from college, or when they go into the military. You know, and maybe that’s what we need to hear, to keep yourselves going from time to time. But they need us for a lot longer than that.

Q:    Any thoughts on how to pick out a good adoption agency?
A:    Yes. I’ve got some great thoughts, except I don’t share them because, as a court, we’re a neutral agent. But it is important - probably like a doctor’s advice or home repair - that you get more than one estimate, and that you work so that you have a comfort with the social worker that you’re dealing with. Hopefully you’ll find someone as joyous as my wife and, you know, you’ll get to stay in contact with them for the next 40 years. But I think it is important, you know, that the potential adoptive parent - that it’s a comfortable fit.

Q:    And in this age of information, you can do some due diligence and some research?
A:    Oh, I suspect that, you know, whether it’s a Yelp review or any of the other, you know, opportunities, you know, people will speak out. It’s kinda like a restaurant. If you go and you have a wonderful meal, you’ll tell a few people. If you have a bad meal, you’re gonna tell everybody. And in the social media world, you can do so pretty quickly.

Q:    Judge, is there any particular adoption story you’d like to share with us?
A:    Adoption, from a judge’s perspective, is a wonderful event. Whether it’s an arm baby and pictures with the family or a toddler, an older child. But there are four wonderful children that I got to adopt back in 2001. You know, and they’re about 20 years old now, and it’s been wonderful to see their progress. To see that they’ve blossomed in their various homes, and that they’re doing well. And, you know, (Hannah) and (Michael) and (Matthew) and (Brandon), we’re so very proud of you and so very proud of your adoptive parents for making it work.

Q:    That’s one of the great things about the job you and I had. It happens very frequently that I run into people who want to tell me how their children are doin’.
A:    Oh, yes.

Q:    It’s a very satisfying part of the job.
A:    I was gonna say, you don’t hear that on the criminal calendar.

Q:    You do not.
A:    Or handling civil cases...

Q:    That’s true.
A:    ...or, you know, probate or the family calendar. ((Crosstalk)) But one of the joys of the juvenile calendar. Not only is the adoption, and its wonderful outcomes and stories, but for all the other parts of it, agencies and court staff and others are planting seeds. And we hope - and in many cases they do - germinate and those youngsters turn out well and do well and become wonderful members of our communities. And, as I like to tell them, “I want you working and paying into social security, because one day I want to collect it.”

Q:    Judge Portley, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us, and thank you all for listening to this edition of the podcast series. Thank you for listening to this AZCourtHelp.org podcast.

Man:    For more information on this and other topics, visit AZCourtHelp.org.

Process Checklist for the Judgment Creditor in a Garnishment of Non-Earnings


A non-earnings garnishment targets personal property belonging to a person who owes money, or money other than wages that is owed to the debtor by a third person.  Some examples of non-earnings include money in a bank account, the contents of a safe deposit box, a rent payment owed but not yet paid, or an account receivable.

Property that is not earnings may be subject to garnishment, however, not all property can be garnished, and certain non-earnings property is protected (see A.R.S. Title 33, Chapter 8).  For example, a judgment creditor who garnishes a bank account may only take the money that is in the account on the day the Writ of Garnishment is served on the bank.  If the garnishee deposits new money in the account, a new garnishment action must be filed to collect them.  In addition, the first $300 per person, per bank account is protected from garnishment.  If persons other than the judgment debtor(s) is/are on the account, a hearing may be held to determine the share of each account (A.R.S. § 12-1595). 

STEP 1:  Review the forms and instructions in the packet

To garnish a bank account or other form of property other than wages, you will be working with the following forms in the packet (the number of each form appears in the bottom left corner of each page): FORMS 1 through 16.  

STEP 2:  Apply to the court for a writ of garnishment and serve the required forms on the garnishee

To begin your garnishment action, complete and file an Application for Writ of Garnishment.  There is a fee for filing this form.  If you cannot pay the fee, it may be deferred if you qualify.

Fill out and file with the Court the Application for Writ of Garnishment (Non-Earnings), and the Writ of Garnishment and Summons (Non-Earnings).  If you are filing your application in a Superior Court, the Clerk of the Court will sign the writ and summons.  If you are filing your application in a Municipal or Justice of the Peace Court, the Judge or Justice of the Peace or Clerk will sign the Writ and Summons form you have filed.  After the Judge or Clerk has signed FORM 2 and it has been returned to you, you must serve the documents listed below on the garnishee.  The number of copies to be served is indicated for each form.  You must fill out the caption – and only the caption – on FORMS 4, 7, 8, and 9 before serving them on the garnishee.

  • Writ of Garnishment and Summons (Non-Earnings) –  2 copies
  • Instructions to Garnishee (Non-Earnings) –  1 copy
  • Garnishee’s Answer (Non-Earnings) – 4 copies        
  • Notice to Judgment Debtor of Garnishment (Non-Earnings) – 2 copies
  • Request for Hearing –  2 copies
  • Notice of Hearing on Garnishment (Non-Earnings) – 2 copies 
  • The judgment awarding you money against the judgment debtor – 1 copy

You will pay a fee for service of these documents.  A private process server, a constable from the Court or a deputy sheriff can serve them for you.  You may be able to recover the amount of money you pay to serve these forms at the end of the proceeding.  If you cannot afford to pay the service fee, you may qualify for deferral of the payment.  Private process servers do not accept deferrals.
For specific information on how to serve these documents on a financial institution, refer to A.R.S. §12-1577.

STEP 3: Wait for garnishee’s Answer

By law, the garnishee is to complete and file a Garnishee Answer with the Court within 10 business days, beginning with the first business day after service on the garnishee.  Do not take any further steps in this process until this time period has been completed or until you receive a copy of the Garnishee Answer, if that occurs sooner.  If the time period has expired and you still have not received a copy of the Answer from the garnishee, contact the Court to see if an Answer has been filed.  

STEP 4A [IF APPLICABLE]:  If the garnishee does not file an Answer

Complete and file a Petition for Order to Show Cause Regarding Garnishee’s Default and Order to Show Cause (FORMS 10 and 11).  This is a request to the Court to order the garnishee to appear and answer.  The Court may then order the garnishee to appear for a hearing and explain why no Answer was filed.  If a hearing date is set, you must serve the Petition and the signed Order to Show Cause on the garnishee using one of the service methods listed in STEP 2 (service by process server, constable, or deputy sheriff).  You must also deliver a copy of the Petition and signed Order to Show Cause to the judgment debtor by mail or hand delivery.  At the hearing, the Judge may order the garnishee to pay the judgment creditor up to the total amount owed by the judgment debtor. 

STEP 4B [IF APPLICABLE]: If the garnishee claims to hold no property of the judgment debtor

The garnishee who holds no property of the judgment debtor can ask the Court to make the judgment creditor pay for the reasonable expenses of the garnishee related to responding to a Writ of Garnishment.  For this reason, before beginning a garnishment, the judgment creditor should take precautions to ensure the person or organization named as the garnishee does in fact possess property of the judgment debtor.

STEP 4C [IF APPLICABLE]: If the garnishee claims to hold property of the judgment debtor

Wait 10 more business days to see whether the debtor files a Request for Hearing on Garnishment (FORM 8).  If the judgment debtor does not request a hearing within 10 business days of the filing of the Garnishee’s Answer, complete and file an Application for Garnishment Judgment (Non-Earnings) (FORM 5).  Also file a Garnishment Judgment (Non-Earnings) (FORM 6) for the Judge to sign.  
 
Mail or personally deliver copies of these forms to the garnishee and to the judgment debtor before you file them with the Court.  Once the Judge signs the Garnishment Judgment (Non-Earnings) (FORM 6), the Court will send a copy of the signed version of this form to those involved.

If the garnishee does not receive a copy of the signed Garnishment Judgment within 90 days of filing an Answer, you will have to begin again from the beginning, except under limited circumstances, see A.R.S. § 12-1587.  The writ expires 90 days after the Answer is filed with the Court in a non-earnings garnishment.  Check with the Court periodically if you do not receive a signed Garnishment Judgment within 3-6 weeks after filing your Application for Garnishment Judgment (FORM 5). 

STEP 5A [IF APPLICABLE]: If a request for hearing is filed to object to the garnishment

If the judgment debtor objects to the garnishment and files a Request for Hearing (Non-Earnings) (Form 8), the Court should set a hearing date within 5 days after the request is filed.  The Judge may not sign the Garnishment Judgment (FORM 6) until the hearing has been held.  Some of the more common objections include:  lack of notice, lack of jurisdiction, invalid or satisfied judgment, exempt money is being garnished ($300 in bank account, welfare, worker compensation, child support or other potentially exempt monies), or exempt property is being garnished.  There may be other reasons as well.  Additional information concerning exemptions can be found at A.R.S. §§ 33-1101–1130.  It is important for the judgment creditor to attend this hearing.

STEP 5B [IF APPLICABLE]: WHAT TO DO IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH CLAIMS MADE IN THE GARNISHEE’S ANSWER OR DO NOT RECEIVE ANY NON-EARNINGS PROPERTY FROM THE GARNISHEE

A judgment creditor who does not agree with the Garnishee Answer, or does not receive any property from the garnishee to which the judgment creditor is entitled can file a Request for Hearing (FORM 14) and the Court will hold a hearing on the request.  

If you desire to release the garnishee and/or judgment debtor from the garnishment:

  1. The Petition and Order Discharging Garnishee (FORMS 12 & 13) can be used to release the garnishee who turns over property in response to the Writ of Garnishment or in other appropriate circumstances.  Once it is filed, mail a copy to the garnishee, the judgment debtor and any other creditor who has asked to be notified.  This can be done even if the garnishee’s payment does not completely satisfy the judgment debtor’s debt. 
  2. A Satisfaction of Judgment (FORM 16) can be filed with the Court to establish that the judgment has been fully paid off or otherwise satisfied.  Mail a copy to the judgment debtor.


Resources

Garnishment of Non-Earning Forms

FAQ - Garnishment

Fee Deferral or Waiver Forms

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Garnishment of Non-Earnings Instructions

You have been served with a Writ of Garnishment and Summons in which you are named as the “garnishee.”  The person or company that filed this court action (the “judgment creditor”) is attempting to collect payment from an individual or organization named as the “judgment debtor.”  You are involved in this proceeding because the judgment creditor believes you either owe the judgment debtor money, other than wages, or are in possession of personal property owned by the judgment debtor.  

The judgment creditor should have served you with the following documents:

  • Writ of Garnishment and Summons (Non-Earnings) (you should have received 2 copies)
    • This document identifies the parties and the reason for the garnishment.
  • Instructions to the Garnishee (Non-Earnings)
    • This document explains your rights and responsibilities in this court action.
  • Garnishee Answer (Non-Earnings) (4 copies)
    • You will complete this document and file it with the Court.
  • Notice to Judgment Debtor of Garnishment (Non-Earnings) (2 copies)
    • This document explains the judgment debtor’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Request for Hearing (Non-Earnings) (2 copies)
    • This document can be used by the judgment debtor to object to the garnishment or the Garnishee Answer.
  • Notice of Hearing on Garnishment (Non-Earnings) (2 copies)
    • This document is completed by the Court to notify parties of a hearing on a judgment debtor’s objection.
  • One copy of the Judgment in the original lawsuit between the judgment creditor and the judgment debtor
    • This document shows you how much money was awarded to the judgment creditor in the case against the judgment debtor.

STEP 1:  DELIVER DOCUMENTS TO THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR

Within 3 business days of the date on which you received the paperwork listed above, deliver one copy of the following documents to the judgment debtor:

  • Writ of Garnishment and Summons (Non-Earnings)
  • Notice to Judgment Debtor of Garnishment (Non-Earnings)
  • Request for Hearing (Non-Earnings)
  • Notice of Hearing on Garnishment (Non-Earnings)
  • The Judgment in the original lawsuit between the judgment creditor and the judgment debtor

These documents can be delivered personally by you, or by first class mail, or they can be served by a constable, deputy sheriff or other process server.  If you use a constable, deputy sheriff or process server, you will have to pay a fee.

STEP 2:  FILE YOUR ANSWER WITH THE COURT

You must file an Answer within 10 business days after the date on which you received the paperwork listed above, even if you do not have any property or owe any money to the judgment debtor.  Fill out the Garnishee’s Answer (Non-Earnings) form and file it with the Court.  Send a copy to the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor (by mail or by personal delivery).  Show on the Garnishee Answer how you delivered the copies to the other parties.  This must be done within 10 business days.  Failure to file the Garnishee’s Answer can result in an order being entered against you in the full amount of the debt owed by the judgment debtor to the judgment creditor.

CAUTION:  Failure to file a Garnishee’s Answer can result in an order being entered against you in the full amount of the debt owed by the judgment debtor to the judgment creditor.  This can happen even if you do not know the judgment debtor or do not owe the judgment debtor any money or property.

STEP 3:  HOLD ON TO WHATEVER PROPERTY OR MONEY YOU HAVE THAT BELONGS TO THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE FROM THE COURT

The Writ of Garnishment and Summons tells you, the garnishee, to maintain control over any of the judgment debtor’s property in your possession on the day the Writ was received.

  • Some types and amounts of property are not subject to garnishment.  A list of these is shown on the Request for Hearing form (FORM 8). You should review this list.  An attorney can help determine how much of the debtor’s property is exempt.
  • Corporate garnishees should not transfer any shares or interest belonging to the judgment debtor until further court order.

STEP 4:  WAIT FOR THE RULING OF THE COURT

The Court may issue a Garnishment Judgment directing the release of the debtor’s funds or other property to the judgment creditor after any objections to the garnishment are considered.  The judgment creditor will send you an unsigned copy of the Garnishment Judgment at the time it is filed with the Court.  After the judge has signed this form, the Court will send you a signed version of the Garnishment Judgment informing you of how to proceed.  Do not proceed until you have received the signed Judgment.

If you are holding money or other property of the judgment debtor and you do not receive a signed Garnishment Judgment within 90 days of the date on which the Garnishee’s Answer was filed, you must then return the property to the judgment debtor (A.R.S. § 12-1587).   Before returning the property, contact the Court or the judgment creditor to verify that the Court has not in fact signed a Garnishment Judgment in your case.

What to do if the judgment debtor objects to the Garnishment or the Garnishee Answer:

The judgment debtor has 10 business days after receiving the Garnishee Answer to file a Request for Hearing on Garnishment (Non-Earnings).  The judgment debtor is responsible for sending a copy of the Request for Hearing to you.  The Court will notify you of the hearing date.  You may attend this hearing.

Resources

Garnishment of Non-Earning Forms

FAQ - Garnishment

Fee Deferral or Waiver Forms

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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