Appeal from the Superior Court in Mohave County Cause No. S8015CV201200874 The Honorable Rick A. Williams, Judge
Mohave County Appellate Defender's Office Kingman By Diane S. McCoy Ronald S. Gilleo Attorneys for Petitioner/Appellant
Mohave County Attorney's Office Kingman By Melissa M. Moore Attorneys for Real Party in Interest
JOHN C. GEMMILL, Judge
¶1 Emory Ray Stout appeals a superior court judgment denying his special action petition seeking transcripts rather than electronic recordings of justice court proceedings in anticipation of filing an Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 32 ("Rule 32") of-right petition for post-conviction relief. Because Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.4(d) ("Rule 32.4(d)") provides for "transcripts" rather than electronic recordings for indigent defendants, we vacate the superior court's order and remand for further proceedings.
¶2 Stout pled guilty in Mohave County Justice Court to one count of reckless burning, a class 1 misdemeanor. After sentencing, Stout filed a timely notice of post-conviction relief to initiate a Rule 32 of-right post-conviction proceeding in Mohave County Justice Court. See Ariz. R. Crim. P. 32.4(a) . Stout also requested transcripts of the change of plea and sentencing hearings. The justice court provided Stout with audio recordings of the requested proceedings but, in June 2012, denied the request for transcripts. In July 2012, Stout filed a petition for special action in superior court, asking that the justice court be compelled to provide written transcripts.
¶3 The superior court issued an unsigned decision in November 2012, denying Stout's requested relief. Stout filed a notice of appeal of the superior court's decision on December 3, 2012. On January 11, 2013, the superior court entered a signed order disposing of Stout's special action and affirming the justice court's refusal to order the production of transcripts.
JURISDICTION ON APPEAL
¶4 Stout's December 3, 2012 notice of appeal was premature because no final judgment had yet been entered, and Stout did not file a new or amended notice of appeal after the superior court's January 11, 2013 order, which constituted the final judgment. Nonetheless, this court has jurisdiction over this appeal in accordance with Barassi v. Matison, 130 Ariz. 418, 422, 636 P.2d 1200, 1204 (1981), in which our supreme court held that "a premature appeal from a minute entry order in which no appellee was prejudiced and in which a subsequent final judgment was entered over which jurisdiction may be exercised need not be dismissed." See also Baker v. Bradley, 231 Ariz. 475, 479-81, ¶¶ 13-19, 296 P.3d 1011, 1015-17 (App. 2013); Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") §§ 12-120.21(A)(1), -2101(A)(1); Ariz. R. P. Spec. Act. 8(a).
The Superior Court's Exercise of Special Action Jurisdiction
¶5 Accepting jurisdiction over a petition for special action is discretionary with the court in which it is filed. Northern Propane Gas Co. v. Kipps, 127 Ariz. 522, 525, 622 P.2d 469, 472 (1980). We apply an abuse of discretion standard when reviewing the superior court's exercise of jurisdiction over Stout's special action petition. Id.
¶6 Stout's special action petition alleged that the justice court abused its discretion by denying his request for the production of transcripts. Although the superior court did not expressly discuss its discretionary decision to exercise jurisdiction, the court assumed jurisdiction when it addressed the merits of Stout's request for transcripts. We discern no abuse of discretion in the superior court's exercise of special action jurisdiction. The Applicable Rule and Its Plain Language Interpretation ¶7 Because this appeal presents questions of law about the controlling rules for Stout's transcript request and how to interpret those rules, we review the superior court's decision ...