Arpaio v. Baca
In Arpaio v. Baca, 217 Ariz. 570, 177 P.3d 312 (App. 2008), the Court accepted special action jurisdiction as to a ruling from the superior court that followed a joint hearing regarding common issues in selected criminal cases. Id. at 572, PP 2-3, 177 P.3d at 314.
The common issue drawn from the cases was whether a visitation schedule implemented by the sheriff's office violated the individual defendant's right to counsel. Id. at P 4.
The Court held that the presiding criminal court judge had "inherent authority to schedule a consolidated hearing for the limited purpose of receiving evidence and ruling on the privileged visitation issue." Id. at 576, P 19, 177 P.3d at 318.
The Court was asked to decide whether the criminal presiding judge had the procedural authority to conduct a joint hearing for all cases in which an in-custody defendant had filed a motion to restore a previous privileged visitation schedule at jail facilities. Id. at 576, P 17, 177 P.3d at 318.
The Court noted that no criminal rule forbids the limited consolidation of cases for the purpose of resolving a common ancillary issue not directly related to the merits of the cases. Id. at P 18.
The Court held:
While the administrative authority granted presiding judges by Ariz. R. Sup. Ct. 92 may not alone be enough to support the broad interpretation urged by defendants, the limited hearing conducted by Judge Baca did not require her to hear any evidence or make any rulings directly impacting the merits of the various cases. Instead, the purpose of the joint hearing was to resolve as expeditiously as possible an urgent ancillary issue impacting the named defendants' constitutional right to communicate with their attorneys in cases pending before the superior court. Because a superior court judge has inherent authority to conduct such proceedings and issue such orders as are necessary to the complete administration of justice, we believe Judge Baca, in her capacity as presiding criminal judge, had inherent authority to schedule a consolidated hearing for the limited purpose of receiving evidence and ruling on the privileged visitation issue. Id. at P 19.