Petition for Special Action from the Superior Court in Yuma
County No. S1400CR201701136 The Honorable Roger A. Nelson,
Law Office, PLLC, Yuma By Gregory T. Torok Counsel for
Petitioner Yuma County Attorney's Office, Yuma By Andrew
Orozco Counsel for Real Party in Interest
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Linley
Wilson Counsel for Amicus Curiae Arizona Attorney General
Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Phoenix By Mikel
Steinfeld Counsel for Amicus Curiae Arizona Attorneys for
Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Judge Paul J. McMurdie and Judge David D.
A Yuma County justice court convicted Jason Wayne Lay of two
misdemeanors. After the superior court affirmed his
convictions, Lay petitioned for special action relief,
arguing the State had not offered evidence to prove the
justice court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the
charges. We accept jurisdiction of his petition but deny
relief. We agree with Lay that Arizona Revised Statutes
("A.R.S.") § 22-301 (2019) establishes the
subject-matter jurisdiction of an Arizona justice court but
conclude the evidence at his trial was sufficient to satisfy
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Lay was charged with harassment under A.R.S. § 13-
2921(A)(1) (2019) and threatening or intimidating under
A.R.S. § 13-1202(A)(1) (2019). The harassment charge was
based on text messages Lay sent a woman with whom he had been
in a relationship; the threatening or intimidating charge was
based on evidence that Lay threatened to kill the woman's
current significant other.
At the close of the State's case, Lay moved for judgment
of acquittal under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 20,
arguing the State had failed to offer evidence that he
committed the crimes within the precinct as required by
A.R.S. § 22-301. The justice court denied the motion. It
then convicted Lay and sentenced him to 60 days in jail.
Lay appealed to the superior court, which affirmed his
convictions. After the superior court denied Lay's motion
to reconsider, he filed this petition for special action.
We exercise our discretion to accept jurisdiction of this
special action under Article 6, Section 9, of the Arizona
Constitution, A.R.S. § 12-120.21(A)(4) (2019) and
Arizona Rule of Procedure for Special Actions 1(a). Lay has
no remedy by appeal, see A.R.S. § 22-375
(2019), and this case presents a question of statutory
interpretation, a question of law, which is of statewide
importance, see Ariz. R.P. Spec. Act. 1(a);
State ex rel. Montgomery v. Brain, 244 Ariz. 525,
527, ¶¶ 6-7 (App. 2018).
A.R.S. § 22-301 Establishes the Subject-Matter
Jurisdiction of a Justice Court.
Section 22-301, titled "Jurisdiction of criminal
actions," states in relevant part:
A. The justice courts shall have jurisdiction of the
following offenses committed within their respective
1. Misdemeanors and . . . .
2. Felonies, but only for the purpose of commencing action
and conducting proceedings through preliminary ...