WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill introduced by Rep. Tom O’Halleran to add Flagstaff and Yuma to the list of federal court locations in the judicial district for Arizona.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and O’Halleran, D-Sedona, have introduced similar bills in the Senate and House that would make the judicial system more accessible to victims, witnesses, interested parties and jurors in northern and southern Arizona.
“I am proud to see my bipartisan legislation passed in the House today,” O’Halleran said Wednesday following the vote. “Currently, residents in Flagstaff and Yuma do not have full access to the federal judicial system. When this bill is signed into law, rural Arizonans will no longer be forced to drive hundreds of miles to Phoenix and Tucson for court. This commonsense bill will make it easier for Arizonans and further strengthen tribal sovereignty.”
McSally introduced the Senate counterpart of the bill earlier this year.
“Arizonans shouldn’t have to travel long distances to access our judicial system,” McSally said. “Access to our judicial system shouldn’t discriminate based on where you live. I am glad to see the House pass my legislation and look forward to the Senate moving quickly to send it to the president’s desk.”
Under current law, court can be held in Globe, Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson. Both Flagstaff and Yuma have federal courthouses, and substantial judicial and law enforcement activity, mainly overseen by magistrate judges, takes place in both cities.
Without the statutory authority this legislation provides, proceedings requiring district judges, including most criminal cases and trials, generally cannot be held in Yuma or Flagstaff. Currently, Arizonans living in and around Flagstaff and Yuma, including parties to cases, victims of crime and jurors, must travel long distances for district court proceedings.
O'Halleran represents Arizona Congressional District 1, which includes Flagstaff as well as most of Pinal County.