FROM THE EDITOR
A Publication of the State Bar of Arizona
LISA BORMASTER FONTES
DAVID H. BEN TON, CHAIR
YUSRA B. BOKHARI
HON. THEODORE CAMPAGNOLO
PAUL F. DOWDELL
GREGOR Y GAU TAM
HON. RANDALL M. HOWE
COLLEEN M. JOHNSON
KARA L. KLIMA
JOSE V. LUJAN
TERRIE S. RENDLER
K YLE SHELTON
MICHAEL F. VALENZUELA
4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85016-6266
270 N. Church Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701-1113
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VOLUME 53, NO. 7
If you’re like most people, you think of bail—
when you think of it at all—as an accepted fact of
legal existence, one that’s probably been around
since time immemorial.
Cash-bail strikes most of us as an old-timey
thing, quaint in a way, and entirely necessary to
ensure the appearance of defendants at their
scheduled trials. Most believe that it’s administered
in an even-handed way, and therefore it remains
one of those rare corners of the criminal justice
system that is without controversy.
Now, what if it turns out none of that is true?
What if that under-the-radar administrative tool has a relatively recent
history? What if it leads to inequitable results? And what if bail—and
other court-imposed fines, fees, and penalties—helps simply to jail the
poor and release the rich, all without making the public safer?
These are all questions our own Arizona Supreme Court is willing
to ask, and the resulting answers could cause deep changes to our justice
A January summit held at the Court communicated the problems and
possible solutions to state legislators and members of supervisory boards.
A packed room listened to experts describe the recommendations of a
task force created at the direction of Chief Justice Scott Bales.
The Task Force on Fair Justice for All turned a hard light on all
judicial operations, and on how they affect those who interact with the
judicial branch. National news stories have revealed how some commu-
nities have been
decimated by an
court fees as a
gets. For example,
the flashpoint of
Ferguson, Missouri, may have been a police shooting, but the events
laid bare an economic war waged on the poorest residents. There, the
courts were complicit in a revenue-generation strategy—which led to
decreased trust in those same courts and the broader justice system.
Chief Justice Bales awaited no violent flashpoint to look at our own
You can read the complete Task Force report here: www.azcourts.
What you’ll see is an impressive document that marches
readers, step by step, through a logical series of assumptions.
The sturdiest opponent of change may find himself agreeing,
item by item, with the Task Force’s 11 broad principles. It is
a persuasive document, ever mindful of its audience of experi-
enced court personnel, lawyers, and elected officials. Whether
its 65 recommendations eventually get across the finish line is
another matter, but congratulations to Task Force Chair Dave
Byers for a remarkable document. A package of resultant bills
is wending its way through the current legislative session.
And thank you to Chief Justice Bales and our Court for
seeking a proactive outcome. As visiting speakers at the Summit pointed out, other states now view Arizona as a leader
on these important topics. They—and we—look forward to
what just results emerge from the Court’s deep commitment
Bailing out justice
Scott Bales, Justice
for All Summit,
Jan. 10, 2017.