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The Judicial Branch of Arizona, Maricopa County
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Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Commissioner Eartha K. Washington
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Pre-Trial Practice and Management Issues
• All litigants should be prepared for Court. In particular, litigants should have documents necessary to their proceeding in hand when they report to the courtroom. The Court directs litigants to the Self Service Center, or the Maricopa County Superior Court website, for all forms relating to uncontested default packets. In addition to completed packets, litigants should bring supportive documentation as needed to advance their arguments. For instance, in child support matters, the parties should come to Court with information about the other party’s gross income, the cost of medical insurance, and whether or not the other children are being supported. When in doubt, the parties should consult the statutes, court rules, and the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. Court staff can provide limited assistance on general court procedures but cannot provide legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney.
• Litigants would be wise to know the Arizona Rules of Family Law, especially Rule 44, and Rule 45, as they are most applicable to default and consent proceedings.
• The Court cannot, and will not, grant relief that has not been requested in the petition, or is different from the petition. The Court relies on documents filed with the division, and served to the other side, to identify the legal concerns at issue. Please be clear about what you are asking for, and why, when addressing the Court, enabling the Court to best facilitate you case.
Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments
• Party may appear by telephone if incarcerated, living out of state, or has a legitimate reason for not attending Court (i.e. work situation).
• It is uncommon for attorney fees to be awarded during uncontested default cases; however the court may award attorney fees after considering the financial resources of both parties, and the reasonableness of the positions each party has taken throughout the proceedings.
Trial Practice and Protocol
• While this Court handles uncontested default matters, litigants should know if their case becomes contested, it will be referred to a trial judge. Different procedural matters, and the preferences of the assigned judge, will then apply to their case. With that noted, this Court processes a heavy volume of casework. Generally, 15-18 cases are heard each morning and each afternoon. These cases are screened by court administration and scheduled accordingly. The Court will hear cases wherein parties are represented, before it will hear cases in which the parties represent themselves, as a courtesy to attorney schedules.
Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections
• Bench copies of exhibits are appreciated.
Trial Practice and Procedure
• A guardian ad litem will be appointed for child interview purposes when necessary.
• All litigants should listen to the Court’s questions, and wait for the court to finish speaking, before responding. It is not appropriate to interrupt the Bench, or any other person in the courtroom.
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