News laws

In most cases, the date a new Arizona law becomes effective does not depend on when the governor signs it. It depends on when the legislature adjourns. This year, the date most new state laws became official was Sept. 24.

In the most recent legislative session, 2,003 measures were introduced, 414 were passed, and four were vetoed. This column will discuss four new laws.  

House Bill 2604 started as legislation concerning when rural judges could issue telephonic emergency orders of protection. However, it was amended to double the amount of time a regular order of protection is valid.  

Previously, if a judge granted a domestic violence victim’s request for an order of protection, it was good for a year from the date it was served, unless the person on the receiving end of the order requested a hearing. The remaining portions of the law did not change, but now an order of protection is valid for two years. A.R.S. § 13-3602(N). 

House Bill 2343 created a new crime of interfering with a crime scene. It is not illegal to peaceably observe law enforcement officers, but if someone disobeys a peace officer’s reasonable verbal order to remain back, doing so is now a class 2 misdemeanor. A.R.S. § 13-2413. Police organizations said this law was unfortunately necessary because some people no longer act in a civil manner when they are near a police officer.   

Perhaps to the delight of anyone who owns a dog, consumer fireworks received some additional attention. Senate Bill 1275 allows a local government to ban fireworks on all days, except for New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. A.R.S. § 36-1606.

A new law that will impact justice courts immediately is House Bill 2485. Judges are now required to issue an order sealing case files in residential eviction actions in cases where the case is either dismissed prior to a judgment or if the court finds in favor of the tenant. The requirement to keep these records protected includes the summons, the complaint, any other pleadings, any court orders, any exhibits and evidence, and any record of the proceedings. A.R.S. § 33-1379.

On Aug. 29, the Supreme Court of Arizona added a new court rule, Rule 20 to the Rules of Procedure for Eviction Actions, to implement this new law. It follows the statutory language and states a “court must enter an order sealing all records” if the criteria are met. 

The public policy behind this new law was to avoid someone from having an eviction action be part of a record against them in cases where the case had actually been dismissed or in cases where they prevailed in court against their landlord. Tenant advocates maintained that landlords have denied rental applications because eviction cases were unfairly appearing on background checks, even though those cases had been dismissed.

Judge Gerald A. Williams is the justice of the peace for the North Valley Justice Court. That court’s jurisdiction includes Glendale, Phoenix, Anthem and Desert Hills.