July 28, 2004
All three candidates for South Mesa/Gilbert justice of the peace were there at the beginning.
Incumbent Harrell Boyster was the justice court’s first constable when it was split off from the Chandler precinct in 1991.
At the time, Sam Goodman was the Chandler justice of the peace, and Dan Dodge was appointed to the Gilbert planning commission.
The three Republicans are vying in the Sept. 7 primary for the job of overseeing small-claims court, civil trials for awards under $10,000 and traffic and criminal misdemeanor hearings. No Democrats are running.
Dodge is a court consultant currently helping the Phoenix City Court improve its collection of fines and restitution for victims.
He also mediates court disputes before they reach trial, a relatively rare practice at the justice courts but one he says would save money and time.
"There’s just a cascade of positive benefits from mediation and it amazes me that more of the courts don’t take advantage of it," he said.
Boyster was constable for 12 years before he was tapped to replace Tom Freestone when he retired as justice of the peace last year.
He said he also plans on bringing mediators to the court, but for now "the parties have pretrial conferences where they see if they can figure something out, and it seems to work pretty well."
Goodman lost his 1994 bid for re-election to the Chandler bench, after which he became a sort of roving pro tempore judge, helping rural justice courts iron out operational problems.
He’s now a backup city judge in Casa Grande and a hearing officer for initial appearances at the Pinal County Jail in Florence.