Specialized Courts


Initial Appearance Court

Initial Appearance Court (IA) is the first court appearance for someone arrested in Maricopa County. IA Court is located at the 4th Avenue Jail, 201 South 4th Avenue. Initial Appearance Court is statutorily required to conduct hearings on persons arrested within 24 hours from the time of arrest. Persons arrested are transported to the 4th Avenue Jail for booking into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) jail management system (JMS). The court docket is conducted every three (3) hours on a 24 hours/7 days a week schedule. Each docket typically consists of forty (40) people, but may be increased to ensure that all arrested people are seen by IA Court within the 24 hour statutory requirement.

All felony arrests, new charges, or people arrested on outstanding warrants in Maricopa County must be seen in IA Court. Also, anyone arrested on misdemeanor charges by MCSO or the Department of Public Safety (DPS) within Maricopa County will be seen at IA Court, as well as people arrested from warrants issued by the twenty-six (26) justice courts in Maricopa County, and new charges and warrants from fifteen (15) different city courts. Initial Appearance Court also hears out-of-county and out-of-state warrants, civil, probate, and family court matters.

A total of 80,003 initial appearance (IA) hearings were held in IA Court in FY2016, which is a 9.3% increase from FY2015.
The IA Court also received 13,023 requests for search warrants and 8,566 search warrant returns in FY2016, which is 8% more than the previous fiscal year. Criminal Administration staff prepares all necessary documents for the commissioner to review.


The six (6) commissioners in IA Court and four (4) part-time Commissioner Pro Tems are served by eleven (11) Judicial Clerks and one (1) Judicial Assistant.

Early Disposition Court

The law, referred to as Proposition 200, affected the prosecution of drug charges, necessitating a change in the system to provide incentives to early pleas and earlier treatment. The result was a program initially referred to as Expedited Drug Court. Today it is known as Early Disposition Court (EDC). There are currently two locations for Early Disposition Court. The first location is in Downtown Phoenix, and the second is in Southeast Mesa.

Therapeutic Drug and DUI Court

Therapeutic Drug and DUI Courts handle defendants who have been convicted of drug or DUI charges. These Courts incorporate increased supervision and monitoring by the Court, the Adult Probation Department and treatment providers as part of the coordinated strategy to intervene with repeat and high-risk offenders. Successful completion of the program often results in reduction of the felony charges. Defendants are screened prior to admission to either of the programs to achieve desired long-term success.

In FY2016, Drug Court held status conferences four (4) times per week and non-witness violation hearings every Thursday afternoon. In FY2016, more than 11,284 drug court status conferences were held, a 55% increase from FY2015. The DUI calendar was held once a week, and heard more than 2,263 matters, almost a 30% increase from the previous fiscal year.

DUI Court

The Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Court is responsible for the management of cases that involve the charge of aggravated DUI. This includes status conferences, settlement conferences, changes of plea, trials, and sentencings for those cases. During FY2016, 1,495 cases were set to be sentenced in DUI Court, a decrease of almost 14% from the previous fiscal year.

Veterans Court

The Veterans Court assists veterans returning from military service who are struggling with addictions, mental illness and other co-occurring disorders. Veterans Court encourages recovery, sobriety, stability, and a better quality of life. Unfortunately, as more and more veterans return from military service, the courts are encountering an increasing number of offenders with service related trauma. Such trauma is reportedly related to higher rates of divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, and in some cases, incarceration and suicide in veterans. Without appropriate treatment, these veterans are at risk of harming themselves or others.

Seriously Mentally Ill Probation Violation Court

The Comprehensive Mental Health Court was developed in response to the growing number of serious mentally ill people coming into contact with the criminal justice system. The focus of the Comprehensive Mental Health Court is to identify those eligible for treatment, work collaboratively with service agencies to provide treatment and services, and oversee compliance with treatment orders. This approach avoids additional civil commitments and arrests and reduces the costs associated with incarceration.


Criminal Presiding Judge
Sam Myers

Christopher Bleuenstein
Criminal Court Administrator
Contact the Criminal Department

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