U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) today moved to make federal courts more accessible to victims, witnesses, parties, and jurors in northern and southern Arizona.
The senators introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow Arizona federal district court proceedings to be held in Flagstaff and Yuma. Under current law, court can be held in Globe, Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson. Both Flagstaff and Yuma have federal courthouses, and substantial judicial and law-enforcement activity, mainly overseen by magistrate judges, takes place in both cities. Without the statutory authority this legislation provides, proceedings requiring district judges, including most criminal cases and trials, generally cannot be held in Yuma or Flagstaff. Currently, Arizonans living in and around Flagstaff and Yuma, including parties to cases, victims of crime, and jurors, must travel long distances for district court proceedings. Representative Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) has introduced the House companion to the legislation, which every member of the Arizona delegation has joined.
“It should not be a hardship for Arizonans to have access to our judicial system,” Senator McSally said. “Through this effort we are making hard-working Arizonans’ lives a little easier by improving access to federal courts in both northern and southern Arizona.”
“By expanding federal district court proceedings to Yuma and Flagstaff we increase access to our courts for rural Arizona communities and create jobs,” Senator Sinema said.
“We applaud Senators Sinema and McSally for introducing this common-sense legislation. Flagstaff is the largest City in northern Arizona and, as such, we have a high propensity of lawyers and District cases within our jurisdiction,” Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans said. “It only makes sense to add Flagstaff to the places that the District can hold hearings or cases and again, I applaud our Arizona senators for introducing this long overdue and much-needed legislation.”
“The importance of adding an Article 3 court in Flagstaff cannot be understated,” President and CEO of the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Julie Pastrick said. “The judicial needs of northern Arizona are vast. Adding this federal service will address these needs throughout the region enhancing local judicial services, and bringing additional high-wage jobs to the community. We are grateful this idea is taking shape, and hope momentum continues to build in Washington.”
“It is great to see common sense legislation being proposed by Senators McSally and Sinema. Yuma is the third largest metropolitan area in the State of Arizona,” Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls said. “As such, including Yuma as an authorized location for District of Arizona Federal Court proceedings is a common sense approach to add flexibility to the courts system.”
“Yuma is equipped to handle the Article 3 Court addition to our Court System and would be grateful to have this opportunity,” President and CEO of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation Julie Engel said. “Being the 3rd largest population center in Arizona as well a remote location to the metropolitan areas, it makes great sense to offer this in Yuma. I appreciate the leadership on this issue of Senators McSally and Sinema, and the Congressional delegation.”
Read full bill text HERE.