The North Valley Justice Court is the only court in Arizona where, even if you don’t hire an attorney, you should expect to pay for the other guy’s — and usually for an amount much greater than what you’ve been sued for. It’s corrupt, it’s immoral, and it’s been going on for almost twenty years.
· In case CC2009-064864 Judge Williams awarded $6,000 in attorney’s fees in a lawsuit that was only asking for $3,600. The appeals court overturned the decision, saying: “a trial court may not award attorneys’ fees when a plaintiff fails to claim them in the pleadings.”
Mindful of this rebuke, Judge Williams did it again…
· In case CC2012–050934 the appeals court overturned Judge Williams’ decision awarding attorney’s fees (the order does not say how much they were) and wrote: “The trial court abused its discretion when it awarded [the plaintiff] attorneys’ fees when he failed to request them in the pleadings.”
Suitably chastised, Judge Williams did it again…
· In case CC2014–113567 Judge Williams awarded $11,000 (!) in attorney’s fees but didn’t give the losing party a chance to argue against them. The appeals court overturned, writing: “Rule 128(e) specifically allows a party opposing a motion 10 days—after the motion is served—to file a response to it.”
Thus reprimanded, Judge Williams did it again…
· In case CC2016-207404 Judge Williams awarded $3,600 in attorney’s fees which the appeals court overturned: “A court abuses its discretion when there is no evidence supporting the court’s conclusion or the court’s reasons are untenable, legally incorrect, or amount to a denial of justice. *** Plaintiff maintains the trial court abused its discretion when it assessed attorneys’ fees for both the protective order case as well as for the eviction action. This Court concurs.”
Appropriately admonished, Judge Williams did it again…
· In case CC2016-026895 Judge Williams once more awarded attorney’s fees in the judgment despite the parties not addressing them in court (the order doesn’t say how much they were). The appeals court overturned the award, saying: “The attorneys’ fees amount was simply added into the Tenants’ form of judgment and awarded by the trial court.”
Fittingly reproached, Judge Williams did it again…
· In case CC2016-199499 Judge Williams awarded attorney’s fees of $44,500 (!!) in a case seeking only $10,000 in damages. So quick to award attorney’s fees that he didn’t adequately review them, the judge was overturned on appeal: “By making its fee award without being made aware of the terms of the fee arrangement between Plaintiff and her counsel, the trial court can be said to have ‘abused’ its discretion.”
Properly scolded, Judge Williams did it again…
· In case CC2016-168387 Judge Williams awarded $4,800 in attorney’s fees on top of an award of $10,000 (a rare bargain). But once more, the appeals court had to step in to protect a litigant from North Valley “justice”: “Addition of the amount of attorneys’ fees to the Judgment thus resulted in an award in excess of the trial court’s jurisdiction.”
And from speaking with voters, it’s clear that Judge Williams continues to be the only Arizona judge to treat his courtroom like a casino, with lawyers always looking to win big.
Please note — this is not normal. Most judges are reluctant to award attorney’s fees because they encourage nuisance lawsuits intended to enrich lawyers rather than compensate their clients. It’s a particularly big problem in the North Valley Justice Court, where many attorneys agree to represent their clients for no up-front fees, taking their compensation out of the judgment. But Judge Williams awards these same lawyers outrageous attorney’s fees that—without a judgment in their favor—their clients never would have paid! Nobody would bring a lawsuit for $3,000 if they knew that their lawyer would cost them $6,000. Judge Williams knows he is not compensating a litigant for his costs but is instead offering a corrupt giveaway to lawyers for bringing business to his court.
Aimee will end the practice of judge-shopping — where attorneys file out-of-venue cases in the North Valley Justice Court because they know they can get big fee awards. She’ll actually review the applications for attorney’s fees and make sure your last stop in any lawsuit isn’t before the appeals court.
Judge Williams’ contempt for the litigants in his courtroom is well-established, from the findings of the Commission on Judicial Conduct to the stories we hear on the campaign trail. But now there’s a new low: strong-arming a defendant in an eviction case to circulate his nomination petitions. That happened just this year, when Judge Williams compelled a down-on-her-luck defendant facing her second eviction action in as many months to circulate his re-election petitions. She did a pretty good job—getting more than half the signatures he needed to appear on the ballot—but at the cost of her dignity and the reputation of the North Valley Justice Court. It shouldn’t have to be said, but you will not have to demean yourself to get justice in Aimee’s court.
Not As Corrupt, But Just As Crazy
Judge Williams is currently petitioning the Arizona Supreme Court to be allowed to become a precinct committeeman while remaining a judge. Such a change would be unconstitutional, and Judge Williams is not asking to amend the Arizona Constitution, which says a judge cannot “hold any office in a political party or actively take part in any political campaign other than his own for his reelection or retention in office.” It’s a good rule, since a judge is supposed to be impartial and not an advocate for any political party. Rather than waste time on useless petitions with no chance of success, Aimee advocates re-locating the North Valley Justice Court within the North Valley and not Surprise, changing the Justice Court rule that allows cases to be heard in the wrong venue (which allows for judge-shopping), and giving an equal hearing to all parties in a lawsuit—not just those who hire lawyers.
Together, we can get the crazy out of the North Valley Justice Court.