State/Local Funding

  • The Arizona Judiciary has a mix of state and local funding. 
  • The state pays for the appellate courts, the administrative office of the courts, a large portion of juvenile and adult probation, technology and one –half of  the -salaries of the trial court judges (except in Maricopa County) .Trial court clerical and support staff, operating expenses, courthouses and equipment are funded locally.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Total state and federal grant appropriations for the Arizona judicial system essentially stayed the same.  The dollars decreased from $148.46 million in FY12 to $148.28 million in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation decreased from $108.8 million to $108.59 million.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the judiciary dropped from 1.32% to 1.28%.
  • Overall State General Fund appropriations for the Judiciary have been reduced by over 19% (over $22M) from FY 2008 to FY 2013.  In addition, the Legislature has excluded the Judiciary in any GF increases to cover employer cost increases (Retirement/Health Benefits) creating an indirect cut to the Judiciary which is not included in the totals above.  A total of $47M has been swept from the Judicial Branch’s state special revenue funds from FY 2008 through FY 2014.  Included in that total is a $6M fund sweep for the current fiscal year (FY 13) and an already approved $6M fund sweep for the next fiscal year (FY 14).
  • The Arizona trial courts are largely funded by local units of government, e.g., City and County levels.  Many Courts have undergone substantial budget reductions in the past four years, some over multiple fiscal years.
  • Since FY09, to enhance revenue, fees have increased 44%.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to get worse. 

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch submits its budget directly to the Legislative Branch.
  • The Judiciary receives a lump sum budget.
  • The budget enables the court to provide and enhance needed technology.
  • The introduction of technology, such as 24/7on-line access to some court documents, on-line jury qualification and scheduling and remote video interpretation has enhanced court services to the public.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  • Over the past four years, the number of judges and has remained the same.  Central office staff has been reduced by 16%. 
  • This coming year, the number of judges will increase by one (Mohave County).

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Arizona courts have reduced hours of operation, had staff layoffs, delayed filling judicial vacancies and have delayed filling vacancies in judicial support positions.  In the coming year, they will continue to delay filling vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.  Service reductions have resulted in limited access to court services and have increased backlogs and delays in disposing of cases.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the courts have frozen the salaries of judicial officers and court staff and have furloughed court staff.  In the coming year, they will continue to freeze judicial salaries.

Efficiency Measures:  The Arizona courts have implemented E-filing, an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system, and electronic workflow.  They have enabled law enforcement to file e-citations.  Persons can make e-payment of fees and fines, can access virtual self-help centers and can access a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to records.  Arizona has expanded the use of video technologies, including video recording of court proceedings, video hearings and video interpretation.

Restructuring:  Arizona has consolidated courthouses and has reallocated staff.  Justice Courts have been co-located at a new regional courthouse.  Justice and Superior Courts have been co-located.

Business Processes:  The courts have implemented and will continue to implement an enhanced caseflow management program.  They have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings and are videoconferencing arraignments and detention hearings and remote interpretation.  E-citations and e-filing are eliminating work for state agencies.

Outsourcing:  The courts are outsourcing the collection of fines, data entry, electronic filing and the translation of court protective order forms.      

Centralization:  The courts have a centralized call center and payment center and have centralized collections processing.

The Arizona courts are in a worse position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  The courts and probation departments have undergone substantial budget reductions.

Reports and Articles

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