Arizona’s Court of Appeals was established in 1965. Arizona’s appellate courts consist of two pieces: Court of Appeals which is the intermediary appeals court and the Supreme Court which is the final resort court. There are two divisions of the Court of Appeals, Division One which resides in Phoenix and has 16 judges and Division Two which resides in Tuscon and has six judges. Each judge is elected in a nonpartisan election and holds a renewable six-year term.
The Arizona Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in all cases that are referred from the Superior Courts. The Court of Appeals is not a trial court, and therefore a three-judge panel hears each case and makes decisions called opinions. The Court of Appeals also reviews previous cases where losing parties requested a “review” of the initial appeal. From here, cases proceed to the Supreme Court for a final review if required. Although the process is the same for both civil and criminal appeals, only civil cases have fees associated with the appeal.
Only the Arizona Division One Court of Appeals has exclusive jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the “Industrial Commission, unemployment compensation rulings of the Department of Economic Security, and rulings by the Tax Court.” The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction for all criminal appeals except those that carry the death penalty. In those situations, the case is handed over to the Supreme Court. Regardless of the geographical location of the referring Superior Court, the Court of Appeals cannot “give greater precedent” to a case in their own district.
To qualify to become a Court of Appeals judge, an individual must be at least 30 years old, of good moral character, a resident of Arizona and have practiced law for at least five years before being elected to the seat.