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Case Name Coronado v. Brewer VR-AZ-0051
Docket / Court 2:07-cv-01089 ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On June 01, 2001, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the State of Arizona in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The Arizona Constitution provides that "[n]o person . . . convicted of treason or felony [shall] be qualified to vote at any election unless restored to ... read more >
On June 01, 2001, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the State of Arizona in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

The Arizona Constitution provides that "[n]o person . . . convicted of treason or felony [shall] be qualified to vote at any election unless restored to civil rights." Ariz. Const. art. VII, § 2; see also A.R.S. § 14-904 ("A conviction for a felony suspends the following civil rights of the person sentences: 1. The right to vote."). A felony is "an offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in the custody of the state department of corrections is authorized by any law of this state." A.R.S. § 13-105(16). A person convicted of a single felony automatically regains any civil rights that were lost or suspended by the conviction if the person both: (1) completes a term of probation or receives an absolute discharge from imprisonment; and (2) pays any fine or restitution imposed. Id. at § 13-912. Persons convicted of more than one felony must apply to the superior court to have their civil rights restored. Id. at § 13-908.

Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the Arizona statutory scheme governing the right to vote of those convicted of felonies. Their first argument was that disenfranchisement for felonies not recognized as such at common law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. While plaintiffs acknowledged that Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment insulates felon-disenfranchisement schemes from equal protection challenges to some extent, they argued that Section 2 only permits disenfranchisement for common-law felonies. In their view, disenfranchisement for statutory felonies not recognized at common law has no affirmative sanction in Section 2 and violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Three of the Plaintiffs also argued that conditioning the restoration of the right to vote upon the payment of their criminal fines and restitution violates various provisions of the United States and Arizona Constitutions. Particularly, they alleged that this repayment condition violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment's bar against poll taxes, the Privileges or Immunities Clauses in both the federal and Arizona Constitutions, and the Arizona Constitution's provision mandating free and equal elections.

Contending that Plaintiff's Complaint failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on August 13, 2007. The District Court (Judge Stephen M McNamee) granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint without prejudice on January 22, 2008, reasoning that Arizona law treats all felons equally with regard to disenfranchisement and subsequent restoration of civil rights and finding no distinction between common law and non-common law felonies.

On April 30, 2008, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint and on May 19, 2008, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint. On November 06, 2008, Judge McNamee granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint with prejudice.

Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On May 27, 2010, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's decision. The Court of Appeals held that the Fourteenth Amendment permits States to disenfranchise felons, regardless of whether their offenses were recognized as felonies at common law. Requiring felons to satisfy the terms of their sentences before restoring their voting rights is rationally related to a legitimate state interest, and does not violate any of the various constitutional provisions Plaintiffs rely upon.

Xin Chen - 06/12/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Voter qualifications
Causes of Action Voting Rights Act, unspecified, 42 U.S.C § 1973 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Governor of the State of Arizona
Maricopa County Recorder
Pima County Recorder
Scretary of the State of Arizona
Plaintiff Description Persons who have felony drug convictions, and have completed probation or received discharge from imprisonment, but remain ineligible for automatic restoration of their voting rights fror failure to pay fines and restitution ordered by courts.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:07-cv-01089-SMM (D. Ariz.) 08/26/2010
VR-AZ-0051-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Injunctive Relief, and Nominal Monetary Damages 06/01/2007
VR-AZ-0051-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof 08/13/2007
VR-AZ-0051-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Decision and Order 01/22/2008 (2008 WL 191987) (D. Ariz.)
VR-AZ-0051-0003 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint for Declaratory Relief , Injunctive Relief, and Nominal Monetary Damages 04/30/2008
VR-AZ-0051-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint and Memorandum in Support Thereof 05/19/2008
VR-AZ-0051-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Decision and Order 11/06/2008 (2008 WL 4838707) (D. Ariz.)
VR-AZ-0051-0006 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 08/03/2010 (605 F.3d 1067)
VR-AZ-0051-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges McNamee, Stephen M. (D. Ariz.)
VR-AZ-0051-0003 | VR-AZ-0051-0006 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
O'Connor, Sandra Day (SCOTUS)
VR-AZ-0051-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abudu, Nancy G. (Georgia)
VR-AZ-0051-0001 | VR-AZ-0051-0004 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
Bradley, Neil T. (Georgia)
VR-AZ-0051-0001 | VR-AZ-0051-0004 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
McDonald, Laughlin (Georgia)
VR-AZ-0051-0001 | VR-AZ-0051-0004 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
Pochoda, Daniel Joseph (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-0001 | VR-AZ-0051-0004 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bailey, Barbara Anne (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-0002 | VR-AZ-0051-0005 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
Cosgrove, John Russel-Cotes (California)
VR-AZ-0051-9000
Friar, Karen Sue Wigoda (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-9000
Goddard, Terry (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-0002 | VR-AZ-0051-0005
Jurkowitz, Daniel S. (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-9000
Martoncik, Kathleen Erin (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-9000
O'Grady, Mary Ruth (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-0002 | VR-AZ-0051-0005 | VR-AZ-0051-9000
Wilenchik, Dennis Ira (Arizona)
VR-AZ-0051-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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