[Source: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic] — Mesa Mayor Scott Smith doesn’t want East Valley residents to get stuck paying for the closing of Maricopa County Superior Court’s criminal divisions through extra travel costs and inconvenience. Smith plans to fight against plans to move the criminal divisions to Phoenix by the end of this year by meeting with Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell and the East Valley’s two representatives on the Board of Supervisors. “I think it would be a huge disservice to the East Valley for these courts to move,” Smith said. “It’s shifting the costs and burden to individual citizens.”
He said the size of Maricopa County alone justifies a full-service courthouse, including criminal courts. “We’re a huge county. The citizens are not served when the services are so far away,” Smith said.
But Mundell’s not budging, saying the move is necessary to improve efficiency and save money on transporting defendants from Phoenix jails to the Mesa courthouse for hearings on felony cases. “I would love to have criminal in all of our facilities,” in Mesa, northeast Phoenix, and Surprise, she said, but county can’t afford it.
The county also is building a controversial $343 million criminal tower in downtown Phoenix that is scheduled to open in 2012. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]