J.W. Hancock Enter. Inc. v. Ariz. State Registrar of Contractors

In J.W. Hancock Enter. Inc. v. Ariz. State Registrar of Contractors, 142 Ariz. 400, 405, 690 P.2d 119, 124 (App. 1984), the Court set forth a four-part test to determine whether one branch of government "is exercising 'powers properly belonging to either of the others.'" Id. at 404-05, 690 P.2d at 124-25 (quoting Ariz. Const. art. 3). Under Hancock, as applicable to an alleged usurpation of prosecutorial authority by a judge, we examine the nature of the power being exercised, the degree of judicial control in the exercise of that power, the judicial objective, and the practical consequences of the judicial action. Id. at 405, 690 P.2d at 124. The dividing line between permissible blending versus unconstitutional usurpation is often blurred; in such instances, there is no bright-line test that reveals whether one branch has exceeded its proper role. Instead, the resolution of separation of powers claims requires "ad hoc determinations focused on insuring sufficient checks and balances to preserve each branch's core functions." Hancock, 142 Ariz. at 405, 690 P.2d at 123-24.