Mields v. Villarreal

In Mields v. Villarreal, 159 Ariz. 556, 769 P.2d 464 (App. 1989), a criminal defendant filed a special action complaint in superior court challenging a magistrate's ruling in his DUI case. The complaint was resolved by stipulation, but the superior court awarded the defendant attorney fees against both the state and the magistrate pursuant to 12-348. The Court vacated the award, finding it impermissible under the specific exception the legislature had adopted for criminal proceedings in 12-348(G)(7) (since renumbered as 12-348(H)(7)). The Court specifically noted: "Mields' suggestion that his special action did not involve a criminal prosecution but rather a separate matter is in itself frivolous." Mields, 159 Ariz. at 559, 769 P.2d at 467. The Court then rejected the defendant's cross-appeal, observing that A.R.S. 12-349 is limited to civil actions by its own language and, therefore, "has no application to a special action arising in a criminal prosecution." Id.