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How do you like your judges?

At the end of the General Election ballot, voters are asked whether to retain some current Superior Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court judges. The Judicial Performance Commission, getting feedback from attorneys, jurors, litigants and witnesses through surveys, found the four Pinal County Superior Court judges on the ballot meet the standards.

Judges Delia Neal, Daniel Washburn and Kevin White each received 27 votes of “meets judicial standards” and none against.

Judge Steven Fuller received 19 votes of “meets judicial standards” and four votes of “does not meet judicial standards.” Six members of the commission did not vote on Fuller. He was the only judge up for affirmation in the state to receive more than one vote of “does not meet judicial standards.” However, his overall average score was still a high 97.75 percent.

Fuller and Neal received their lowest marks among attorneys in “judicial temperament,” with Neal scoring 91 percent and Fuller scoring 85 percent. On the other hand, Washburn scored 100 percent in judicial temperament, and White 99 percent.

Washburn’s lowest marks came from attorneys rating his communications skills at 92 percent. White’s lowest score came from litigants/witnesses rating his integrity at 93 percent. His lowest mark among attorneys was also in integrity (96 percent).

Washburn and Neal scored 100 percent across all categories with litigants and witnesses.

Average survey ratings
Fuller – 97.75%
Neal – 98.3%
Washburn 98.1%
White – 98%

Arizona Supreme Court judges Clint Bolick and John Pelander III are also on the ballot for retention, and both received 27 votes of “meets the standards” and no votes of “does not meet standards.” Bolick had an average score of 94 percent. His lowest score was in judicial temperament at 83 percent. Pelander’s average score was 99.6. His lowest score was a 98 in communication skills.

In Divisions I and II Court of Appeals, four judges are up for retention. All were found to meet the standards, and none received a ruling of “does not meet judicial standards.”

In Division I, Judge Peter Swann had an average score of 96.1. His lowest mark came in “legal ability” with 91 percent. In Division II, Peter Eckerstrom averaged 97.25 percent. His lowest mark was in “legal ability” at 84 percent. Philip Espinosa’s average was 92.7 percent. His lowest mark, too, was in “legal ability” at 82 percent. Christopher Staring scored 98.86 percent, with the lowest mark of 96 percent coming in “legal ability” and “administrative performance.”


This information appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

MFD Fire Station 575

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department
Chief Brady Leffler
Brady.Leffler@Maricopa-AZ.gov
Administration Office
45654 W. Edison Road
520-568-3333
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(Mailing address: 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza)

Fire Station 571 (Homestead)
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Fire Station 574 (Alterra)
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Fire Station 575 (Acacia Crossings)
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Ak-Chin Fire Department
Chief Cecil Peters
520-568-1300
45401 W. Farrell Road
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Thunderbird Fire District
12365 N. Ralston Road
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Maricopa Police Department
Chief Steve Stahl
Steve.Stahl@Maricopa-AZ.gov
Dispatch: 520-568-3673
Administration: 520-316-6800
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Main Station
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Copper Sky Substation
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Maricopa Police Department
Maricopa Police Department

Ak-Chin Police Department
Chief Manuel W. Garcia
520-568-1200
47314 W. Farrell Road
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Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Mark Lamb
800-420-8689
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Sheriff
Adult Detention Center
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Florence
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PCSO Search & Rescue
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Maricopa Municipal Court
Presiding Judge Lyle Riggs
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Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court (Pinal County Precinct 8)
Justice of the Peace Lyle Riggs
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
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Pinal County Superior Court
Presiding Judge Stephen F. McCarville
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Building A, Florence
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Ak-Chin Tribal Court
Chief Judge Brian Burke
47314 W. Farrell Road
520-568-9481
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Banner Casa Grande Medical Center – Emergency Room
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Chandler Regional Medical Center – Emergency Room
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480-728-3000
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Akarsh Cholaveti. PCSO photo

The Tempe man charged with manslaughter in the October deaths of Maricopa teenagers Michael and Matthew Voss was arraigned in court Friday morning.

Akarsh Cholaveti, 26, pled not guilty to two counts of manslaughter in addition to one count of aggravated assault and three counts of endangerment in front of Judge Lawrence Wharton Jan. 26.

A grand jury indicted Cholaveti on those charges one month earlier on Dec. 27 in a Pinal County Superior Courtroom.

The grand jury accused Cholaveti of manslaughter by “recklessly causing the deaths” of the Voss brothers Oct. 29. It charged the defendant with one count of aggravated assault “by causing (another passenger) serious physical injury; a broken arm.”  The endangerment charges allege Cholaveti “recklessly endangered” three additional passengers “with a substantial risk of imminent death.”

Police in Maricopa County arrested Cholaveti on a warrant Jan. 17. The defendant later posted a $125,000 bond and was released from Pinal County custody the following day.

Cholaveti’s next day in court is March 13 at 9 a.m. for a pre-trial hearing.

Oct. 29, the Voss family was driving to their home in Thunderbird Farms from church. As they drove west on Papago Road, police said Cholaveti, driving a 2017 black Acura sedan north on Ralston Road, failed to stop at the Papago intersection and drove through the roadway, causing a rollover collision.

Michael Voss, 17, and Matthew Voss, 16, both in wheelchairs, were ejected from the family’s minivan and later died at the hospital after being airlifted from the accident.

Friends and family erected a roadside memorial soon after with candles and stones on the ground arranged in the shape of a heart. Nov. 11, Faith Baptist Church hosted a public memorial at Sequoia Pathway Academy.

Their father, Nathan Voss, declined to comment for this story, but he previously published a prayer on social media

“The 16 and 17 years we got to raise them, we got to watch them grow. And mature. And smile. Those years are so precious and memory-filled, and now those years are over. You have chosen to take them home. To bless them with new, glorious, disease-free bodies.”

Roadside memorial for the Voss brothers at the accident site. Photo by Michelle Chance

Volunteer Rosie Kuzmic teaches teens about the roles of the court clerk and bailiff. Kuzmic has 30 years’ experience working in the court system. Photo by Michelle Chance

Local teenagers participated in the first training for the Maricopa Teen Court Wednesday at Copper Sky.

Nearly 25 students interested in becoming officers of the developing court heard from county legal experts and volunteers familiar with court roles and proceedings.

Pinal County Juvenile Probation Supervisor Teresa Fuller said a majority of the teens in attendance are students of Student Choice High School, a small charter school that operates out of Copper Sky.

Jim Davis, executive director of SCHS, said students will earn an elective credit for their participation in the training and future volunteer work with the teen court.

Davis said the credit opportunity was offered to every student at the school for the educational component the experience brings, but also in the hopes it could inspire career paths.

“The ultimate goal for us is to create an engagement piece so that (students) get to do something that might spark an interest of something in the future that they would do,” Davis said.

The teen court program is just one way the school is looking to collaborate with community agencies. The school is on track to partner with the Maricopa Police Department as well, Davis said.

There are five Student Choice High School locations in Arizona; the Maricopa campus functions as “drop-out recovery,” according to its website.

“Our ultimate goal is to get kids off the streets and to get them to finish their diploma so it impacts the community in a very positive way,” Davis said.

Fuller said teens who registered for the training but did not attend Wednesday’s meeting are still eligible to join the remainder of the trainings Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Copper Sky.

For more information contact Teresa Fuller at tefuller@courts.az.gov or (520) 866-7061.