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Wed, June 26

<I>Arizona Supreme Court comes calling...</I><BR>Justices hear cases before students at Prescott High

Courier/Julie Machia

Arizona State Supreme Court Justice Michael Ryan prepares to hear arguments at Prescott High School's Ruth Street Theater Thursday.

When doctors recommended that he remain in the state hospital on Jan. 4, 2002, he disputed that recommendation and filed a Notice of Filing Request for Hearing in the Superior Court.

He asked the court to order an evaluation by an independent professional and conduct a hearing to determine whether he should move to a less restrictive environment or leave the hospital.

The state opposed the request on the grounds that Flemming waived an independent evaluation and hearing when he signed the agreement with the state in 1998.

In March 2002, a Pima County Superior Court judge denied Flemming's request, which the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Flemming's representative, Brick Storts, and Deputy Pima County Attorney Amy Cain argued two issues before the justices on Thursday – whether the appellant's waiver of his right to a hearing constitutes a waiver of his right to an independent examination and whether the state denied the appellant due process of law by denying his substantive right to an annual review.

After the justices heard arguments in this and another case, they responded to a number of questions unrelated to the cases they need to rule on.

Students and citizens were curious about how the justices get to serve on the Arizona Supreme Court, how the selection process works and how they decide what cases deserve their attention.

McGregor said they look at whether the case raises new issues. She said sometimes the views of the two divisions of the Court of Appeals may differ from one another and it requires the Supreme Court's review. Sometimes, a ruling that the Supreme Court made 20 years ago deserves another look, she said.

"We look at the cases that raise important issues of statewide application," said McGregor, who has been a justice for more than six years. "Decisions we make do come as a result of a dispute between two parties."

Berch said that the Arizona Supreme Court receives 1,200 cases requesting a review, but they grant it to only 60 to 80 cases per year.

Jones acknowledged theYavapai County Superior Court representatives in the audience including Brutinel and retired Presiding Judge Raymond Weaver. On Wednesday, Weaver received an award from the Supreme Court in recognition of his years of service and his service as a presiding judge.

After the first argument, Brutinel said that he is happy to have the justices in Prescott and "I'm pleased that the students had an opportunity to see how the system works."

Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp said that "it is an incredible opportunity for high school and middle school students and the community to see the Arizona Supreme Court in action."

Some years down the road, students who become attorneys or judges will remember that the Arizona Supreme Court was at Prescott High School, he said.

"We've already approached them and asked them if they ever want to come up sooner than 10 years, please come back because this kind of attendance and interest was wonderful."

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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