A few good men and women

By: 
QUENTIN TOLBY, Lessons from the Bench

Do you remember the movie “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise, with its famous line “You can’t handle the truth?”
The Maricopa County Justice Courts need a few good men and women to become volunteer hearing officers.
Do you have what it takes to hear the evidence and render a fair and just decision? Do you have a calm and patient demeanor? Would you be willing to take the bench and hear small claims cases or civil traffic cases?
Small claims are cases in which one person has filed a lawsuit of $3,500 or less. The hearing officer listens to the evidence and makes a decision to award or not award a money judgment. In civil traffic cases, law enforcement officers have given a traffic citation to someone who then pleads “not guilty.” The law enforcement officer states his or her case in court, and the defendant gets to do the same. The hearing officer then makes a decision. If the decision is “responsible,” a fine is assessed. If the decision is “not responsible,” the case is dismissed. In both cases, the hearing officer must make a judgment based on the evidence and who he believes.
Do you have the time to donate two or three days a month to sit on the bench? If you would enjoy that, give us a call at 602-372-1560; we will add your name to our invitation list. Those who are interested will be invited to a “Behind the Bench” tour of either our Southwest Regional Court Center at 10420 W. Van Buren St. in Avondale or our Northwest facility at 14264 W. Terra Buena Lane in Surprise.
After a tour of the facility, you will learn about the justice courts, being a hearing officer, and finally, watch a couple actual trials in progress. We will have applications on hand to start the process of becoming a hearing officer, a process we hope will end with you being approved to take the bench starting January 2019. Fingerprints and background checks are required to become a hearing officer. Felony convictions will disqualify you.
In “A Few Good Men,” Tom Cruise demanded in court, “I want the truth!” If you think you can handle the truth, if you are ready to raise your right hand and ask the parties in front of you, “Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” call soon to reserve your place.
Retired Judge Quentin Tolby: 602-372-1560 or quentintolby@mcjc.maricopa.gov
Education/Training Coordinator Kim Daniels: 602-372-8937

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