What is Voir Dire

What is voir dire & why is it important?

Voir dire is the process of questioning potential jurors to determine whether they are fit to serve as jurors for a particular trial. For Arizona lawyers, the goal of the voir dire process is to ensure that no members of the jury harbor biases that could jeopardize the outcome of the case.

Without a strategic, well-prepared voir dire process, you run the risk of starting from behind with the jury when the trial begins.

The voir dire process

Each judge in Arizona handles the Voir Dire process differently but the process typically looks like this:

  1. Potential jurors are randomly selected from a pool of people who show up for jury duty.
  2. The judge asks standard questions to ensure that everyone is capable of serving on a jury. For example, if they’re a U.S. citizen, don’t have any hardships that would prevent them from sitting through the entire trial, etc.
  3. After those who are deemed incapable are excused, the Arizona attorneys deliver a mini-opening where they offer a 3-5 minute overview of the case.
  4. Following the mini-openings, both Arizona attorneys ask questions of the remaining potential jurors to determine bias.
  5. Following the questioning period, the Arizona attorneys can request that potential jurors be removed with cause of potential bias, with the judge holding the power to deny the requests.
  6. Arizona attorneys also have the right to reject a limited number of potential jurors without cause. The attorneys may feel these individuals have potential biases, but aren’t able to fully justify their feelings to the judge.

Discovery in Lawsuit

During a lawsuit each party has the opportunity to request formal “discovery” from the opposing party. These requests for discovery is accomplished by sending the opposing party four different “packets” requesting certain types of information.  

I have included a copy of our initial drafts requesting information from the opposing party for your review and feedback. Pay particularly close attention to dates, names, and places to make sure that they are factually correct.

stack of legal documents

Uniform Interrogatories:

Is a series of questions that are listed in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Depending on the type of case there is a set of different questions for the opposing party.

Non-Uniform Interrogatories:

Give us the opportunity to write our own questions for the opposing party. For example, we could ask the opposing party, “Explain in detail why you did not make the payments as agreed”.

Request for Admissions:

This allows us the opportunity to present statements to the opposing party in a way where they should respond in the affirmative. If they do not respond in the affirmative then they must provide an explanation of why they denied the statement. For example, we could write a statement, “Admit you did not pay back the money as agreed”. They are forced to “admit” the statement or deny it and then give a detailed explanation as to why they denied the statement.  

Request for Documents:

We are given the opportunity to request up to 10 different sets of documents from the opposing party.

In Arizona, the opposing party has 20 days–in a Superior Court case or 30 days in the Justice Court–to produce the documents requested and their written responses.

Lastly, similar to 26.1 initial discovery statements. These packets are not exchanged with the Court. In fact, the Judge will never see this information unless a specific piece of information is formally introduced as evidence at trial. So don’t worry about impressing the judge, we are simply trying to gain useful information.

If you need help from an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or send us a message HERE.

Motion for Summary Judgment

What is a Motion for Summary Judgment?

A Motion for Summary Judgment is a pleading filed with an Arizona court where a party is asking the judge to rule on a single issue—or the whole case—without the need for a trial. In order for summary judgment to be granted, there must be “no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law”. This means that the undisputed facts presented in a particular case entitle one side to win because of the existing law relating to that issue.

When considering a Motion for Summary Judgment, the Arizona judges must view all “the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Rowland v. Kellogg Brown and Root Inc. Per Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 56(c), only if the Arizona court makes a finding that no genuine issue of material fact exists can the moving party be granted a judgment as a matter of law. If issues of material fact exist then the Motion for Summary Judgment should be dismissed in its entirety.

Arizona courts are cautioned not to use summary judgment proceedings as a substitute for trials, the motion should be granted if the facts produced in support of the claim or defense have so little probative value, given the quantum of evidence required, that reasonable people could not agree with the conclusion advanced by the proponent of the claim or defense.

The burden of persuasion on the party seeking summary judgment is heavy and if there is any genuine issue as to a material factual issue is present, the motion should be denied.

Statement of Facts and Affidavit

There are two documents filed in conjunction with the motion for summary judgment itself; 1) a statement of facts and 2) an affidavit of facts.

  • Statement of Facts– The statement of facts lays out the facts as moving party sees them. In addition, to just stating the “facts”, they must also cite to specific documents that supports their statements.
  • Affidavit in Support– Additionally, the moving party must file an affidavit where they swear under oath that each of the statements they make are true.

Why Did They File for Summary Judgment?

Just because the opposing party filed a Motion for Summary Judgment it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong or they have an extraordinarily strong case where the judge will enter judgment in their favor without even going to trial.

It is quite common for Motions for Summary Judgment to be filed in Arizona cases. In part they are filed because a judge can rule on just one aspect of the case. This will allow them to see if they can “chip at the edges” of our lawsuit and see if they can get anything dismissed at this time.

What Should you Do?

You must file a response to the Motion for Summary Judgment and explain to the Arizona judge why the case should move forward to trial. As part of the response a statement of facts and affidavit must also be filed. Similar to the opposing party’s statement of facts you must cite a source for every statement you make to the court. Doing this can be incredibly tedious and time consuming. The response and accompanying documents must be filed within 30 days of receiving their Motion!

What If the Summary Judgment is Granted?

If the motion is granted, the judgment on the issue or case is deemed to be a final judgment from which a party may appeal. An Arizona court of appeal can reverse the summary judgment and reinstate the claim in the Superior Court. However, this is rarely done and most summary judgments are upheld on appeal.

If you need help from an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at or 480-389-6529 by sending us a message HERE.

Appeal Arbitrator Ruling

How to Appeal an Arizona Arbitrator’s Ruling

There are two basic options available to a party once an arbitrator has made their ruling. One, a party can let the Arizona arbitrator’s decision stand or secondly you can appeal it. If a party does not appeal the arbitrator’s ruling then it will become a judgment. However, if a party appeals the arbitration award then the case will continue moving forward in the Superior Court as if the arbitration hearing and arbitrator’s award had never happened.

I.                   LET THE ARBITRATOR’S DECISION STAND

A.    Arbitrator’s Decision Becomes Final– If you do not appeal the arbitrator’s decision within 20 days, then their decision will become a formal judgment!

II.                APPEAL THE ARBITRATOR’S DECISION

A.    Notice of Appeal– Within 20 days of the Arbitrator’s decision you must file a notice of appeal with the Arizona Court. The notice will state: “Notice from Arbitration and Motion for Trial Setting”. This Notice of Appeal must be filed within 20 days from the date of the Arbitrator’s decision.

B.     Deposit for Appeal– At the time of filing the notice of appeal of arbitrator’s decision the appealing party must deposit $140 with the Clerk of court. If you are ultimately deemed to be the prevailing party then the deposit will be returned to you. However, if you are the losing party then the court will give your deposit to the opposing party.

C.     Downside to Appealing the Arbitrator’s Award– The case will continue moving forward and with that comes the cost, stress, and time associated with litigating the case. Additionally, as their attorneys’ fees continue to mount it increases your risk exposure if you were to take this case to trial and lose.

Appealing an Arbitrator’s decision is a serious decision that must be made while weighing the pros and cons of moving forward. If you have questions about appealing an Arizona arbitrator’s award then contact the Dunaway Law Group by clicking HERE or calling us at 480-389-6529.

Rule 121 Disclosure Statements

Rule 121 of the Arizona Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure requires that both parties exchange an initial disclosure statement. These disclosure statements are often referred to as Rule 121 Statements or Rule 121 Disclosures for short.

Rule 121(a) of the Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure requires that the disclosure statement is provided to the other party within thirty (30) days of the defendant filing an answer. These statements are not filed with the court but simply shared with the opposing party. Many years ago Arizona courts decided to do what they can to help avoid “trial by ambush”. That is, that want parties to share whatever information that exists with the opposing party. In theory this is supposed to increase the likelihood of parties settling without court intervention.

Rule 121 disclosure statement must contain:

  1. A list of all possible trial witnesses. Note, just because a person is listed it does not mean that they must later testify. It simply gives the opposing party notice that you may be interested in having this person testify at the trial.
  2. A list of other people with knowledge. This list is to include all persons who will not be called as trial witnesses, but who have information that may be pertinent to the subject of the lawsuit.
  3. Statements. A person must exchange a list of any written or recorded statements within their possession with the other party. 
  4. Copies of exhibits and information. A person must disclose all documents or exhibits they wish to use to support their claim or defense. Including any electronically stored documents. 
  5. List of all other Documents. This list must include all other relevant documents that are known to exist, regardless of whether or not they are favorable to your case. 

If the plaintiff or defendant discovers new information after sharing the initial 121 disclosure statement then they are required to provide an updated disclosure statement.

121 Disclosure statements are virtually the same as the Rule 26.1 disclosure statements required in Arizona Superior Court cases.

If you need help from an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at office@dunawaylg.com or 480-389-6529.