Public Records Information
Arizona gained statehood on February 14, 1912, the 48th and last state to be admitted into the contiguous states. Discovery of copper in 1854 began the state’s early economy. Today, retirees and tourists visiting areas such as the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Damn are large contributors to the state’s revenues as are electronics, aerospace, computers and its service industries. With just over 114,000 square miles, Arizona is the sixth largest state by territory and ranks sixteenth by population with 6,392,017 residents. Its territory is divided into 15 counties and 91 incorporated cities. The largest cities in the state are Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Glendale and Scottsdale. The Arizona economy thrives on its manufacturing, tourism and mining industries.
The state of Arizona has 3 branches of government. The executive branch in Arizona is headed by the governor and other elected officials such as the secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general and the auditor. The legislature is comprised of a 30 member senate and a 60 member house of representatives with each of its districts having a senator and two house members. The judicial branch is Arizona’s court system with the state supreme, appellate, superior and municipal local courts.
Similar to other states, Arizona counties work as an arm of the state. Counties provide residents with law enforcement, courts, infrastructure construction, facilities and elections. County departments include the treasurer, assessor, recorder, education superintendent and supervisors. Cities are governed by its mayor and city council members. Cities in Arizona have local jurisdiction courts, a city manager, city clerk’s office and numerous departments, such as the police, to serve its residents.
The first privacy law in Arizona was enacted in 1901 with many amendments that followed. Public record statutes such as Title 39 provide for an open government to anyone seeking information. Confidentiality, personal information privacy, and disclosures detrimental to the state are 3 general exceptions. Laws to open records and meetings let Arizona residents obtain information about government meetings, budgets, salaries, plans and any other data held by state or local agencies. Transparency allows scrutiny from residents and reports of abuses or corruption. The law does not require any member of the public or entity to provide the agency holding information a reason to request records.
Many public record requests are for purposes other than government oversight. Access to public record requests are also made from agencies for personal purposes. Requests from the Arizona Department of Public Safety Criminal History Repository allows for background checks by potential employers and others. Birth and death certificates are held by the Arizona Department of Health Services vital records offices where an official certificate can be directly requested. Marriage and divorces are court held filings and are open to view and copy by the general public as well as attorneys. As a service to Arizona residents, the state provides instant data searches online. The Arizona secretary of state offers an instant UCC search by name or entity. Property records, transfers and other recorded documents can be obtained from individual county recorders on the web. Access to professional license verification is available and free to use anytime by members of the public.
Court Records Information
Of 180 courts in Arizona’s judicial system, 153 provide online case search services. Any one can request information regarding judgments, liens, divorces and other civil lawsuits as well as criminal trials and convictions.
The Arizona municipal courts hear cases involving misdemeanors, DWI or DUI, and domestic violence. Municipal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving moving violations, parking, other miscellaneous traffic infractions, and exclusive jurisdiction over ordinance violations. The Justice of the Peace Court has jurisdiction over tort claims, contract, real property rights claims ($0/$5,000 to $10,000), and exclusive small claims jurisdiction for claims up to $2,500.
Arizona's superior court has exclusive jurisdiction over felony, criminal appeals, and juvenile proceedings. The court of appeals has mandatory jurisdiction in civil, noncapital criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, interlocutory decision cases and discretionary jurisdiction in administrative agency cases.
Arizona's supreme court has mandatory jurisdiction in civil, capital criminal, criminal, disciplinary, certified questions from federal courts, and original proceeding cases. It has discretionary jurisdiction in civil, noncapital criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, interlocutory decision cases, and tax appeals.
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