4 criteria key in picking JP - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

4 criteria key in picking JP

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Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008 6:09 pm | Updated: 8:50 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

On Tuesday, I am asking for your vote for Justice of the Peace in the newly formed Highland Justice Court. This district serves most of Gilbert and the Dobson Ranch area of Mesa. The Justice Court is our local "People's Court," allowing citizens access to the justice system without needing an attorney to navigate the complex Superior Court system.

It is critical that your choice for JP be made based on qualifications and experience. The Justice Court hears traffic violations, misdemeanor criminal cases, and civil lawsuits less than $10,000. The Justice of the Peace not only hears cases, but must also administer a court which handles thousands of cases per month. This is not a job for a newcomer or the inexperienced. The administrative responsibilities are significant. The Justice Court must be effectively run to minimize time for our residents and to reduce costs for the taxpayers, and I have the experience to do just that.

In making your choice, please look at four criteria. First, case resolution experience. For several years, I served Maricopa County as a court-appointed mediator, resolving civil cases in a manner that allows both parties to walk away from a dispute as winners. For 17 years, I have heard cases as a planning commissioner and appeals as a member of the Board of Adjustments in Gilbert. For more than seven years, I have served Gilbert as a town ordinance hearing officer, hearing and deciding a variety of cases. I am the only candidate with case resolution experience.

Second, experience with court administration. Effectively managing a "limited jurisdiction" court requires in-depth knowledge of the functions and procedures in this type of court. Effective case management means faster resolution and better service to citizens. For over 20 years, I have worked with government agencies and limited jurisdiction courts in particular, putting in place systems and procedures to improve the management of those courts. I am the only candidate with the background and experience required to implement a smooth running court administration.

Third, community commitment and involvement. I have lived in the Highland district for 22 years and been an active member of this community. I have served on the board of directors of Gilbert Leadership for the past six years. I have served Gilbert as an officer on boards, commissions, committees, and in various other leadership roles over the last 20 years. I am the only candidate in this primary race with a history of service to Gilbert.

Finally, look to the education, experience, and support of the community leaders familiar with the candidates. Don't be misled by claims that only a "law" trained person is capable of fulfilling this role. My degree is in administration of justice. Many of our finest local judges have backgrounds other than law school.

The Highland court needs to be a court where residents can simply and quickly address their needs. What is critical is the ability to be fair, impartial and ethical with a sound foundation in the needs of a high-volume local court.

Case resolution, court administration, community commitment and involvement, education, experience, and support of community leaders - by any standard, I believe I am the candidate most qualified to serve you and the Highland court.

Dan Dodge is a Gilbert resident.

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