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Lockwood v. Board of Sup'rs of Maricopa County

Supreme Court of Arizona

May 8, 1956

Lorna LOCKWOOD, Judge of the Superior Court of Maricopa County and Judge of the Juvenile Court of Maricopa County, Appellant and Cross-Appellee,
v.
The BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF MARICOPA COUNTY, a legal subdivision of the State of Arizona, James Hart, Sr., James O'Neil and James Lindsay, Appellees and Cross-Appellants.

Rehearing Denied June 12, 1956.

Page 357

[80 Ariz. 313] Lewis, Roca, Scoville & Beauchamp and John P. Frank, Phoenix, for appellees and cross-appellants.

Snell & Wilmer and Perry M. Ling, Phoenix, for appellant and cross-appellee.

WINDES, Justice.

Disagreement arose between the board of supervisors of Maricopa county and the judge of the superior court assigned to the handling of juvenile matters, concerning their respective powers relating to the operation of the juvenile code. The board of supervisors instituted a friendly action against the judge of the court seeking a declaratory judgment defendant their respective powers and duties. The trial court rendered judgment only portions of which are challenged as being incorrect.

The judge appeals from the following numbered paragraphs of the judgment:

'1. The Juvenile Court, in its operation of the Juvenile Department, is subject to the general budgetary practices of the County, both as to the original budget and as to expenditures over the budget, in the same fashion as any other department of the County. The Juvenile Court must present in behalf of the Juvenile Department an estimated budget; it must abide by any reduction the Board of Supervisors may see fit to make therein; and it must not exceed its budget unless by authorized emergency levy.

'3. In connection with automobiles operated by the Juvenile Department and the Juvenile Court, the Board of Supervisors is fully authorized to supervise and control their purchase and operation. The Board may require the identification of these automobiles as it sees fit.

'5. At the present time the Juvenile Department is entitled to a maximum of nine probatin officers, there being 434 persons now on probation. These nine probation officers include the chief probation officer and his deputy, whose positions are included [80 Ariz. 314] within the one to fifty ratio established by the statute for the determination of the number of probation officers.

'6. The phrase 'persons on probation' excludes neglected and dependent children under the supervision of the Juvenile Court and juvenile traffic offenders. The Juvenile Court is legally authorized to appoint office assistants in the ratio of one to fifty cases to handle these categories of persons within its jurisdiction.'

Paragraph one of the judgment involves an interpretation of A.R.S. §§ 42-302 and 42-303, hereinafter referred to as the budget law in connection with certain provisions of the statute defining the powers and duties of the court handling juvenile matters. A.R.S.1956 title 8, chapter 2, article 2. There are certain obligations authorized by law which this court has ruled are not limited by the provisions of the budget law, such as obligations of the payment of jury fees, Fullen v. Calhoun, 39 Ariz. 40, 3 P.2d 786; obligations for the payment of fixed salaries, Maricopa County v. Armstrong, 42 Ariz. 317, 25 P.2d 1023; and statutory obligations for the purchase of property to satisfy delinquent special assessments for street improvements, Wise v. First National Bank of Nogales, 49 Ariz. 146, 65 P.2d 1154. The basic reasons for excepting these obligations from the limitations of the budget law

Page 358

is that they are public charges fixed by law, the incurring of which is beyond the control of the board of supervisors. They are placed in the category of charges fixed by law and must be paid even though they exceed the budget estimate for the current year. If such excess occurs, the same must be cared for in the succeeding budget. Fullen v. Calhoun, supra. It therefore is apparent that the trial court's declaration that the juvenile court is subject to the budgetary practices 'as to expenditures over the budget' and that it 'must abide by any reduction the board of supervisors may see fit to make therein' and that it 'must not exceed its budget unless by authorized emergency levy' is not correct to the extent that no exception is made for such charges as are imposed by law and beyond the control of the board of supervisors.

The court has the power to appoint a chief probation officer, deputy probation officers and necessary office assistants and fix their salaries subject to the approval of the board. A.R.S. §§ 8-204 and 8-205. When these appointments are legally made and salaries fixed and approved and the services rendered, the same become legal obligations of the county and must be paid, even if the result might operate to exceed the budget estimate. Maricopa County v. Armstrong, supra.

By the provisions of A.R.S. § 8-231, the juvenile court is empowered to allow by order a reasonable sum at the expense of the county for the support of children over whom it has jurisdiction. Such orders when made become county obligations[80 Ariz. 315] and should the aggregate of such orders exceed the budget estimate therefor, the same are nevertheless valid county obligations. The provisions of A.R.S. § 8-235 empower the court when a child under its jurisdiction needs medical or surgical care to order the same and the expense thereof when approved by the court 'shall be a county charge'. When the court exercises this power by ordering medical or surgical care and approves the expense thereof, it becomes a fixed statutory county obligation even though the aggregate of such orders should exceed the budget estimate provided therefor.

We do not think the trial court was incorrect in ruling that the board of supervisors may control the purchase and operation of automobiles used by the court. This assumes, of course, that such control does not come within the orbit of hampering action that would prevent the court from operating as contemplated by the juvenile code. The board of supervisors has the power to make orders concerning use of county property and to prescribe adequate identification thereof so long as its action is not arbitrary. A.R.S. § 11-201.

The parties disagree as to the proper interpretation of A.R.S. § 8-204, reading as follows:

'The judge presiding in the juvenile court may appoint a chief probation officer, a deputy probation officer and such additional deputy probation officers, not exceeding one for each fifty persons on probation, as he deems necessary. * * *'

The learned trial judge was of the view that in calculating the number of probation officers on the basis of one for each fifty persons on probation the chief probation officer should be included. We are unable to agree with this interpretation. Our view is that when the statute speaks of 'one for each fifty persons on probation' it means one deputy probation officer for each fifty persons on probation. This interpretation authorizes one chief probation officer, and not to exceed one deputy probation officer for each fifty persons on probation.

In paragraph six of the court's judgment, it is declared that 'persons on probation excludes neglected and dependent children * * * and juvenile traffic offenders'. We agree that the term excludes neglected and dependent children for they are not and should not be placed on probation. Only delinquent children are placed on probation. We cannot agree that juvenile traffic offenders are necessarily excluded from the phrase 'persons on probation'. Under the provisions of A.R.S. § 8-201, a child who has violated a law of the state or an ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision thereof comes under the definition of a delinquent child and

Page 359

should the court in its wisdom order him placed on probation for violating the traffic laws, he would thereby become a person on probation. Whether one is a person on probation[80 Ariz. 316] is measured by whether he is delinquent and has been ordered placed on probation.

The board of supervisors cross-appealed from the following declaration by the trial court:

'The Juvenile Court is legally authorized to appoint office assistants in the ratio of one to fifty cases to handle these categories of persons (neglected and dependent children and juvenile traffic affenders) within its jurisdiction.'

We can find no law that authorizes the court to appoint one office assistant for each fifty dependent and neglected children. A.R.S. § 8-204 provides that in counties of the first class the judge may appoint 'necessary office assistants'. There is nothing in the statute that measures the necessity by the number of dependent or neglected children and we have no right to supply such a provision. We do not legislate, we interpret.

Much argument is presented, under the following proposition of law, attempting to relieve the court of any budgetary control:

'The inherent powers of superior courts ehich are essential to the maintenance of their existence and to the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred upon them by law may not be limited by the law relating to county budgets.'

We do not question that the board of supervisors could not under the budget law or any other law so conduct county affairs as to prevent the court's existence and operation as such but no such attempt is made under the facts in this case. Therefore, this proposition of law has no application. If any such unlikely situation arises and is presented, we can dispose of the matter.

Paragraph one of the judgment should be modified to declare that the judge handling juvenile matters is subject to the general budgetary practice of the county and must abide by reductions made by the board of supervisors, except as to expenditures which the statutes expressly authorize the court to incur or as to items that have become fixed by law.

Paragraph five of the judgment is modified to declare that the judge handling juvenile matters may appoint not to exceed one deputy probation officer for each fifty persons on probation, in addition to the chief probation officer.

Paragraph six of the judgment is modified to declare that the phrase 'persons on probation' excludes neglected and dependent children and includes such juvenile traffic offenders as have by order of the court been placed on probation. The juvenile judge is authorized to appoint such office assistants as are necessary to enable the juvenile court to ...


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