The North Valley Justice Court is the worst of all the Maricopa County Justice Courts. Aimee thinks you deserve better.
The Most Overturned on Appeal
When your judge messes up, the only way to get justice is through appealing to a higher court. It’s expensive and time-consuming and most people don’t think it’s worth it—it’s much better to have a judge who gets it right the first time. But Judge Williams of the North Valley Justice Court gets it wrong more often than any of his colleagues.
• Payouts to Attorneys: There is a limited set of legal circumstances in which a judge can award attorneys’ fees. But Judge Williams loves reaching into your pocket to award attorneys their fees, and the law is no obstacle to him. The appeals court has overturned Judge Williams for awarding attorneys’ fees that were never argued for in his court but that he simply added to the judgment (appeals cases LC2017-000343, LC2013-000355, and LC2010-000352), for awarding attorneys’ fees that were unreasonable (LC2017-000202), for awarding attorneys’ fees that were more than the limit allowed in justice court (LC2018-000276), for awarding attorney’s fees without reviewing the contract (LC2018-000118), and for awarding fees without allowing the losing party to question them (LC2015-000512). Judge Williams is nothing more than a rubber stamp when it comes to awarding attorney fees; there’s no example of him being appealed for failing to award attorneys’ fees.
• Shirking His Duty: A bad judge can try to cut down on his workload by ignoring you and rushing to judgment, and that’s exactly what Judge Williams does. The appeals court has overturned him for issuing final judgments without resolving all the issues (LC2015-000214, LC2015-000430, and LC2013-000665), for dismissing cases he should have heard or ruling on cases he should have dismissed (LC2014-000511, LC2012-154758, and LC2020-000366, LC2020-000075, LC2012-000621), and for generally not applying the law (LC2021-000099, LC2019-121033, LC2010-000292).
The Most Reprimanded by the Ethics Board
Judge Williams has been reprimanded by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct more times than any other Maricopa County Justice of the Peace. The theme running through these reprimands is that Judge Williams doesn’t respect anyone in his court who isn’t a lawyer.
• “The judge became angry with the complainant, argued with him from the bench, and raised his voice in a manner inconsistent with the canon. The judge also told the complainant that he would incur attorney’s fees when he lost the case, implying that the judge had already made up his mind in a case that had not yet been set for trial, contrary to Canon 3B(5), which requires a judge to perform his duties without bias or prejudice. This conduct is unacceptable.” (Complaint 06-068)
• “Judge Williams, by his own admission, was ‘terse’ with the litigants at the start of a judgment debtor’s examination, and then made comments to the judgment debtor that were mocking and demeaning. The judgment debtor had filed for bankruptcy prior to the hearing date and the judgment debtor exam was conducted in violation of the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code.” (Complaint 15-085)
• “Maricopa County Justice of the Peace Gerald A. Williams created a post on his Facebook page in which he displayed a photograph of a pleading filed by a litigant *** the intention was clearly to mock the litigant’s request. The post itself has the appearance of impropriety and causes the public to lose confidence in the judiciary.” (Complaint 21-283)
Aimee has heard similar stories from voters on the campaign trail: how Judge Williams evicted a tenant without letting him give testimony; and how he dismissed a case for lack of service despite having the affidavit of the process server in front of him. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of his pre-determined judgments. Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, Judge Williams’ motto seems to be “Sentence First—Verdict Afterwards”.