Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Commissioner Wendy Morton
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Specific Comments or Advice for LitigantsSpecific Requirements or Preferences IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Commissioner Morton is located in the Cradle to Crayons Center: 3445 W. Durango Street, Phoenix AZ 85009
Judicial Assistant: Diane Estrada--email: Diane.Estrada@JBAZMC.Maricopa.gov
Division Phone Number: 602-506-2040
Adoptions: The Court conducts adoption certification and legal reviews. Adoption petitions will be set to hearing according to the statutory timelines once the legal review is completed. When filing an adoption petition, please make sure that all of the legal requirements have been met. If a required element is missing, the Court will request an amended petition and give you time to file it.
Once a hearing is set, it is up to the petitioner (typically through counsel) to make sure that the Court has the required documents to conduct the hearing. Please make sure that all proposed Adoption Orders are correct. Fingerprint clearances take time, so please allow for enough time for them to be done, evaluated and returned to the court by the appropriate agencies. If fingerprint information is required and not able to be submitted to the Court not less than 72 hours prior to the hearing, please file a Motion to Continue, as the Court will need to reset the hearing.
Guardianships and Severances:
Our division conducts Rule 14 guardianships and private severances. Please contact the Law Library Resource Center or the Juvenile Court Center for instructions on the documentation required for Title 14 guardianships or severances. The Court cannot grant petitions unless these requirements are met. You may request additional time to complete those requirements.
Publication: Publication requires permission of the Court. If publication is authorized, please make sure to include the Court date, time and location and, if applicable during COVID, the Court Connect information and tiny URL within the publication.
After a Guardianship has been granted:
Please read your letters of guardianship carefully. This is an important responsibility. All guardians are required to file an annual report AND a medical report EVERY YEAR reporting on the health and well-being of the child(ren). To obtain the annual report form, please contact the Juvenile Court. The annual report also includes a doctor's note indicating, at minimum, that the child(ren) have had a wellness checkup and are up to date on immunizations. The Court will contact you at that address you have provided with a yearly reminder at least 2 months in advance of the due date. Please make every effort to comply with that date. If you do not file your annual report in a timely manner, it may necessitate a hearing being set and you will need to appear in court. Failure to appear and file the annual report may result in the guardianship being terminated.
Changes to Guardianships: Guardians are required to advise the court of
any change of address. Parties cannot just end a guardianship themselves. Guardianships MAY NOT be changed without further order of the court BEFORE any change is made. Parties can file a Petition for Termination of Guardianship if they wish to end the guardianship. These are typically set for a hearing.
Requests for Court Action: If you need the Court take action in your case (Continuances, Motions, Rulings: Requests, Modifications or Amendments), these requests must be made in writing in the form of a motion. Motions must be filed with the Clerk of the Court. Motions may be filed electronically. An email without a filed motion will not result taking action on your request. If your case includes multiple parties (others involved in your case), your motion indicate that it has been sent to all parties.
Communication between the Court and parties or counsel will occur through my judicial assistant. I will not communicate directly with parties via email; ex parte communications are prohibited between parties and judicial officers.
*Please note that all hearings are currently occurring remotely via Court Connect due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Pre-Trial Practice and Management IssuesMotion Practice Please file motions in writing
The Court accepts e-filed motions
Please make sure that motions are addressed to the attention of Commissioner Morton's Division
Where applicable, oral argument is generally granted, but not always. During oral argument, parties should expect to be interrupted by the Court with directed questioning. Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments In contested Severance hearings, please follow the Rules of Juvenile Court and Arizona Revised Statues regarding pre-trial disclosure and witness statements.
Trial Practice and ProtocolTrial Schedule • Schedules are set in conjunction with the Juvenile Court Presiding Judge, court administration, and the respective commissioner.
• Proceedings are recorded on the courtroom’s FTR system. As a result court reporters and/or interpreters must be requested in advance of a hearing. Interpreter proceedings will be given priority. If a party does not appear for a hearing in which an interpreter has been secured, sanctions may be imposed. Other special accommodations will be made upon request when possible. Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections • Excessive or duplicate exhibits are not helpful. Exhibits must be marked with the courtroom clerk prior to the hearing, and counsel shall provide a courtesy copy to the other side. Attorneys should not expect the Court to make photocopies for them. The Court will limit the number of exhibits to be marked on the date of the hearing to five (5), and will not take time from the hearing to mark exhibits.
• Stipulations are encouraged; the parties should notify the Court when they reach agreement. I will consider stipulations to vacate hearings, however, if there is an issue for which the hearing has been set that has not been covered by the stipulation, I may request a telephonic conference with the parties prior to vacating the hearing.
If the parties are stipulating that an Order of Protection or Injunction Against Harassment be dismissed, I am required make inquiry of the Plaintiff on the record and to issue certain findings on the record before dismissing the Order. Therefore, I will not accept a stipulation to vacate the hearing. Please note that if neither party appears for the hearing, the Order will remain in place until the Plaintiff personally appears to request a dismissal.
Trial Practice and Procedure • Technology is limited in the courtroom. The Court will not accept personal electronics (e.g. cell phones, digital cameras) into evidence. Anything that is captured on a personal electronic device must be printed in hard copy, and submitted to Court as an exhibit. Additionally, the Court cannot access exhibits that are saved on a disk or thumb drive in courtroom. If the Court is able to play and capture an audio recording of good sound quality via the courtroom’s sound system, it may be added to the record. However, if parties wish to preserve the record further, then a saved copy of the recording should be provided to the Court as an exhibit. Exhibits may be admitted into evidence provided the proper foundation is laid, and the exhibit is relevant. Courtroom Etiquette • Please be polite and professional, whether the hearing is remote or in person.
Everyone will get a chance to be heard; please respect others during their turn and wait for your turn.
If you are appearing remotely, please make sure that you are in a relatively quiet and private place, free from noise and distraction.
If you are appearing remotely, please do not do so while driving a vehicle or driving in a vehicle.
If you have any technical issues that cause disconnection during a hearing, please try to reconnect. Please contact the Division by email or phone if you need assistance.