Payson Is Well Represented

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by Judge Robert Duber

gila county superior court

Globe is not the Great Satan and there is no reason for a Payson jihad. The Payson community was served well for many years by Judge Alan Slaughter and you will continue to be served in the future.

A judge isn't supposed to be a "rabble rouser." A judge occupies a special position of trust and, as recent events attest, is a highly visible symbol of government. The Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct affirms: A judge must ... accept restrictions on the judge's conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly.

Commissioner Colby accused elected officials in Globe of intentionally depriving Payson of its fair share of resources. Neither his published comments nor his explanation to me for those comments was supported by facts.

How are the dozens of judicial employees in Payson or the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent directly in Payson insufficient? How are Payson's services deficient compared to other similar communities (outside their county seat) what do citizens in Casa Grande, Show Low, Sierra Vista, Apache Junction, or Springerville have that is better? How do judicial expenses per resident of Payson fall short of those in other similar communities? People who occupy positions of trust and leadership have offered only theories of sinister plots and vague generalities instead of persuasive facts and figures.

You were told that any judicial candidate from Globe would be inferior to any candidate from Payson. In fact, only one candidate was nominated by a statewide selection panel for consideration to the Court of Appeals he is from Globe.

The Roundup claimed that Commissioner Colby was a judge pro tempore. That was not true he might have been in January 2002, if approved by the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

You were told that Payson was deprived of necessary judicial services. Before Commissioner Colby arrived in Gila County, the Board of Supervisors created the Fiscal 2000 Citizens Advisory Council to address high taxes in the County. In mid-1998, that group made recommendations to reduce your tax burden.

The Superior Court in Payson was established as a political statement to provide a judicial presence in the North, at a time when the county had sufficient revenues to support the court. In the current fiscal situation, the county can no longer afford to make this political statement. The Payson Superior Court should be closed or scaled back to provide only civil legal services; the staffing in the court, the Clerk of the Court and the County Attorney's Office should be proportionately reduced.

Despite that recommendation, judges have sought and the Board of Supervisors have approved increased services in Payson. Current services include:

Direct salaries and purchases from Gila County Probation Department in Payson: $879,167

Direct salaries and purchases from the Clerk of the Superior Court in Payson: $106,000

Direct salaries for attorneys who handle criminal cases originating in Payson: $317,295 (Two death penalty cases may increase that by $100,000 more)

One half of costs for attorneys who handle cases countywide: $88,250

Commissioner of the Superior Court: $60,000

A half-time judge pro tempore to the Justice of the Peace.

Equal services for mediation, education for divorcing parents, and drug court in Payson.

Judicial services are expensive. The Town of Payson buys its judicial services from the county rather than provide staff and facilities itself.

As the presiding judge for Gila County, I am responsible for allocation of judicial resources. In light of the Fiscal 2000 Citizens Advisory Council recommendations, I think that Payson receives more than a fair allocation of resources and heard no facts from which to conclude otherwise.

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