Bridgeman v. Certa – 6/15/2021
Arizona Court of Appeals holds that the superior court’s final decision in a special action challenging an interlocutory ruling by a lower court in a separate proceeding is an appealable order.
A defendant was charged with a misdemeanor in municipal court. The court denied his request for a jury trial. The defendant filed a petition for special action in superior court to challenge that ruling. The superior court accepted special action jurisdiction but denied relief. The defendant then appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1), the Arizona Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over a direct appeal “[f]rom a final judgment entered in . . . [a] special proceeding commenced in a superior court.” Prior case law had been unclear about whether the Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction, or only discretionary special action jurisdiction when reviewing the superior court’s decision in a special action that challenges a ruling by a lower court in a separate, ongoing proceeding. The Court of Appeals clarified that the superior court’s ruling was a “final judgment” entered in a “special proceeding” under § 12-2101(A)(1) because the special action in superior court was independent from the original proceeding and the superior court’s ruling resolved all issues in the action. The superior court’s ruling, therefore, is an appealable order under § 12-2101(A)(1) and the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction over the direct appeal.
Judge Cattani authored the opinion of the court, in which Judge Cruz and Judge Perkins joined.