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Thomas v. Mundell

July 15, 2009

ANDREW PEYTON THOMAS, MARICOPA COUNTY ATTORNEY; LORENZO ARENIVAZ; TIMOTHY WILLIS; BARBARA WILLIS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BARBARA MUNDELL, JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA; CAREY SNYDER HYATT, JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA; AIMEE ANDERSON, COMMISSIONER, SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA; RICHARD NOTHWEHR, COMMISSIONER, SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA; STEVEN LYNCH, COMMISSIONER, SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA; JAMES T. BLOMO, COMMISSIONER, SUPERIOR COURT OF ARIZONA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Earl H. Carroll, District Judge, Presiding, D.C. No. CV-06-00598-PHX-EHC.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wallace, Senior Circuit Judge

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Argued and Submitted October 23, 2008 -- San Francisco, California.

Before: J. Clifford Wallace, Sidney R. Thomas and Susan P. Graber, Circuit Judges.

Andrew Peyton Thomas, the County Attorney for Maricopa County, Arizona, in his official capacity (Thomas), along with Lorenzo Arenivaz, Timothy Willis, and Barbara Willis (individual plaintiffs), sued several judges and commissioners of the Arizona Superior Court for injunctive and declaratory relief. They allege that certain post-sentencing probation programs adopted and supervised by the superior court violate their federal constitutional and statutory rights. The district court dismissed their claims for lack of standing. Thomas and the individual plaintiffs timely appealed from the district court's dismissal. Because we agree that Thomas and the individual plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the probation programs at issue, we affirm the district court's dismissal.

I.

In 1998, the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department instituted a separate and specialized probation program for individuals convicted of aggravated driving-under-the-influence (DUI) offenses. This program was funded through a grant from the National Traffic Safety Administration, and is commonly known as the "DUI court." Eligible persons were enrolled in the DUI court after having completed their respective sentences. The DUI court differs from traditional criminal probation in several respects. For example, probationers in the DUI court engage in more frequent contact with their assigned probation officers, participate in substance abuse treatment courses and counseling, and take part in peer support groups and observation. Probationers are also required to attend monthly status hearings before a superior court judge, who tracks and monitors their progress.

Subsequently, Maricopa County instituted separate DUI courts for Spanish-speaking and for Native American probationers. These programs were meant in part to address observed deficiencies in the treatment and rehabilitation services rendered to these groups of probationers in the standard DUI court program. The "Spanish-speaking DUI court" was established in December 2002, and the "Native American DUI court" followed in 2003 (collectively, separate DUI courts). The separate DUI courts were funded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Thomas and the individual plaintiffs allege that the separate DUI courts "segregate targeted recipients and treat them differently than the 'regular' DUI court." Specifically, the amended complaint alleges that proceedings in the Spanish-speaking DUI court are conducted in Spanish and are presided over exclusively by defendant Judge Barbara Mundell. Thomas and the individual plaintiffs allege that probationers in the Spanish-speaking DUI court receive more positive reinforcement and fewer or lighter punishments as compared to probationers in the "regular" DUI court. Also, the headphone translation system employed in the Spanish-speaking DUI court is allegedly outdated and inadequate, preventing members of the public and the press from receiving "translation in a timely and appropriate manner."

With respect to the Native American DUI court, the amended complaint alleges that probationers here are generally required to appear on the same day. Probationers in the Native American DUI court also allegedly participate in "cultural programs, specially designed for them, such as being sent to sweat lodges and participating in talking circles." Administrators of the DUI court program also allegedly treat participants in the Native American DUI court "as a separate group" for grant reporting purposes.

Thomas filed the original complaint on February 28, 2006. An amended complaint was filed on March 13, 2006, adding the individual plaintiffs to this action. As described above, Thomas is the County Attorney for Maricopa County. Arenivaz is a resident of Maricopa County, and a victim of a DUI crime perpetrated by a probationer who participated in the "regular" DUI court. The Willises are residents of Maricopa County, and victims of a DUI crime committed by a probationer who participated in the Spanish-speaking DUI court.

Thomas and the individual plaintiffs assert claims under the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981. They seek an order declaring the separate DUI courts unconstitutional, and enjoining the defendants from operating these probation programs. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6), asserting, among other claims, that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring this action in federal court. The district court granted the defendants' motion to ...


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