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State ex rel. Montgomery v. Padilla

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

March 17, 2016

STATE OF ARIZONA ex rel. WILLIAM G. MONTGOMERY, Maricopa County Attorney, Petitioner,
v.
THE HONORABLE JOSE PADILLA, Judge of the SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA, in and for the County of MARICOPA, Respondent Judge, CHRIS A. SIMCOX, a/k/a CHRISTOPHER ALLEN SIMCOX, Real Party in Interest. A.S., Petitioner,
v.
THE HONORABLE JOSE PADILLA, Judge of the SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA, in and for the County of MARICOPA, Respondent Judge, CHRIS A. SIMCOX, Real Party in Interest

          Petition for Special Action from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. No. CR2013-428563-001 DT. The Honorable Jose S. Padilla, Judge.

         Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix, By Amanda M. Parker, Counsel for Petitioner State of Arizona.

         Chris A. Simcox, Phoenix, Real Party in Interest.

         Droban & Company PC, Anthem, By Kerrie M. Droban, Advisory Counsel for Real Party in Interest.

         Wilenchik & Bartness PC, Phoenix, By John D. Wilenchik, Counsel for Petitioner M.A.

         Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, Scottsdale, By Colleen Clase, Jessica A. Gattuso, Eric John Aiken, Counsel for Petitioner A.S.

         Judge Kenton D. Jones delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge Patricia A. Orozco joined.

          OPINION

         Kenton D. Jones, Judge:

         [¶1] In these consolidated special action proceedings, we again address what accommodations may be granted to minors who are alleged victims of sexual abuse when called upon to testify at trial. The State of Arizona and A.S. seek relief from the trial court's order (1) denying a requested trial accommodation for J.D. and Z.S., and (2) granting a closed-circuit television accommodation pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 13-4253[1] for Z.S.[2] We have consolidated the two separate petitions because Petitioners seek the same relief. We accept jurisdiction because Petitioners otherwise have no adequate remedy by appeal and the petitions present issues of statewide importance. See Ariz. R.P. Spec. Act. 1(a); State ex rel. Romley v. Fields, 201 Ariz. 321, 323, ¶ 4, 35 P.3d 82 (App. 2001). Having accepted jurisdiction, we vacate the trial court's order and remand the request for accommodation to the trial court for reconsideration consistent with this Opinion.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         [¶2] The State charged Chris A. Simcox with three counts of sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of molestation of a child, and one count of furnishing obscene or harmful items to minors for conduct occurring in 2012 and 2013. The alleged victims are Simcox's nine-year-old daughter, Z.S., and Z.S.'s eight-year-old friend, J.D. (collectively, the Children).

         [¶3] The trial court previously granted Simcox's request to represent himself pro se and appointed advisory counsel to assist him. The State indicated it would call the Children as witnesses and requested the trial court prohibit Simcox from any direct contact with the Children at trial and require his advisory counsel to conduct any cross-examination of the Children. When the State declined to present evidence the Children would be traumatized by Simcox personally cross-examining them, the court denied the request, and the State petitioned for special action relief. This Court accepted jurisdiction and held:

A trial court may exercise its discretion to restrict a self-represented defendant from personally cross-examining a child witness without violating a defendant's constitutional rights to confrontation and self-representation. It can do so, however, only after considering evidence and making individualized findings that such a restriction is necessary to protect the witness from trauma.

State ex rel. Montgomery v. Padilla, 237 Ariz. 263, 265, ¶ ¶ 1-2, 349 P.3d 1100 ...


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