Buccellato v. Morgan – 12/4/2008

December 9, 2008

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Affirms That Adult Service Providers Are Not Entitled to a Jury Trial for Violating Provisions of the Scottsdale City Code Governing Adult Service Providers.

Appellants work as dancers and a manager at a Scottsdale club featuring live exotic dance entertainment.  They brought a special action in superior court, seeking a jury trial on charges that they violated the Scottsdale City Code.  The superior court accepted jurisdiction but denied relief. 

The Arizona Court of Appeals rejected the claim by various dancers that they were entitled to a jury trial under Article 2, Section 23 of the Arizona Constitution because the offenses did not have a common law antecedent for which the right to jury trial was guaranteed at the time of statehood.  The Court also rejected the club manager’s claim that he was entitled to a jury trial under Article 2, Section 24 because the charges against him were “serious offenses.”  The Court considered the additional penalties arising from violations of the code and found that they were neither severe nor uniformly applied to all persons convicted of the charge.  The Court further rejected the argument that penalties attached to separate misdemeanor charges alleged in a single complaint should be considered together to determine whether a defendant is entitled to a jury trial.  The Court affirmed the superior court’s denial of a jury trial and remanded the matter to city court for a bench trial.

Judge Thompson authored the opinion; Judges Winthrop and Weisberg concurred.