Abuhl v. Honorable Lynda Howell – 5/30/2006

June 5, 2006

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That False Reporting to a Law Enforcement Agency Is Not a Jury-Eligible Offense.

Jeffrey S. Abuhl was charged with false reporting in violation of A.R.S. § 13-2907.01. A Phoenix City Court Judge denied his request for a jury trial. The Court of Appeals held that under the two-pronged test set forth in Derendal v. Griffith, 209 Ariz. 416, 104 P.3d 147 (2005), false reporting in violation of A.R.S. § 13-2907.01 is not a jury-eligible offense. The Court explained that in Derendal the Supreme Court removed the moral quality prong of the prior test set forth in Rothweiler v. Superior Court of Pima County, 100 Ariz. 37, 410 P.2d 479 (1966). Accordingly, whether the right to a jury trial exists with respect to a particular criminal offense is determined by: 1) the relationship of the offense to the common law; and 2) the severity of the penalty inflictable.

Justice Portley authored the decision. Judges Ehrlich and Norris concurred.