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Case Name Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice v. Ducey FA-AZ-0001
Docket / Court 2:17-cv-01422-SPL ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
An group of lawyers and other professionals involved in criminal defense sued the state of Arizona on May 8, 2017 to toss out as unconstitutional a state law that bars defense lawyers from contacting crime victims without obtaining permission from the prosecutor’s office. Represented by the ACLU ... read more >
An group of lawyers and other professionals involved in criminal defense sued the state of Arizona on May 8, 2017 to toss out as unconstitutional a state law that bars defense lawyers from contacting crime victims without obtaining permission from the prosecutor’s office. Represented by the ACLU of Arizona, the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona and sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees. Describing that some of them had been subject to professional discipline and even threatened with criminal charges for alleged violations of the “victim’s rights” law, they alleged that that the law was unconstitutionally overbroad and constituted a prior restraint on free speech in violation of the First Amendment. Two days later, on May 10, they moved for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the law.

The state filed an answer on May 30, 2017. It indicated its intention to file a motion to dismiss the complaint and questioned the allegation that some of the plaintiffs had been threatened with criminal charges, noting that none had ever been brought for violations of the victim’s rights law. The state filed its motion to dismiss on June 21. It argued that a favorable decision would not actually redress the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries because the Arizona State Bar, which is the primary enforcement body for the no contact law, would be the proper defendant.

On June 29, 2017, a group of crime victims and victims’ advocates (“the victims”) moved to intervene in the litigation, saying that the the state would not be able to adequately represent crime victims’ interests in upholding the law. The state did not object to their intervention. The victims also filed a proposed response to the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary relief, arguing that the plaintiffs did not have a realistic possibility of succeeding on the merits.

On March 30, 2018, after several months of discovery, District Judge Steven P. Logan dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint, and also denied both motions for a preliminary injunction and the victims’ motion to intervene (2018 WL 1570244). He concluded that the plaintiffs’ lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The court agreed with the state that, since it was not responsible for enforcing the law, the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries could not be traceable to it.

However, the court was unpersuaded by the state’s arguments that the plaintiffs would never be able to make a sufficient showing of standing, and gave the plaintiffs’ leave to file an amended complaint. The plaintiffs did just that on May 4, 2018 to address the defect identified in Judge Logan’s opinion. They cited the state attorney general’s authority to seek attorney sanctions with the state bar and role as the administrator of the victims’ rights program. The state filed its reply brief on May 25, asserting that the new allegations were substantially no different from the old ones, and also arguing for Younger abstention (which prohibits federal courts from adjudicating claims if it would interfere with ongoing judicial proceedings at the state level).

Judge Logan again granted the state's motion to dismiss this second amended complaint in a March 15, 2019 order (373 F.Supp.3d 1242). He stated that the plaintiffs have sufficiently stated an injury, the threat of enforcement action against what they believe is an unfair law. However, he wrote that the injury is not traceable to the Attorney General's conduct because he is not the primary enforcer of the law in this instance; the Attorney General could only refer violations of the law to the state bar association, which would then take disciplinary action. This denied the plaintiffs standing to sue the Attorney General. Judge Logan gave the plaintiffs another chance to amend their complaint.

The plaintiffs filed another amended complaint on April 26, 2019. This complaint sought identical declaratory and injunctive relief from previous complaints, but added the state bar association, Chief Bar Counsel for the State of Arizona, and the bar association's private investigator as defendants. Shortly after this complaint was filed, both the state and the state bar association moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and on a Younger abstention. The state bar association also sought immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.

Judge Logan partially granted the defendants' motions to dismiss the second amended complaint on February 27, 2020 (2020 WL 954941). Though neither defendant argued that the complaint lacked traceability, the Judge noted that the complaint amended very few facts from the prior complaint, which was dismissed for lack of traceability. Therefore, he said that the claims against the state should be dismissed. This time, he dismissed the case with prejudice, since filing another complaint on this same fact pattern would be futile. As for the state bar association, Judge Logan agreed with the Eleventh Amendment immunity claim, since the bar association is the investigative arm of a state agency. However, Judge Logan found that the plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded a traceable, redressable injury against the Chief Counsel of the Bar Association and the private investigator. Those defendants would oversee and carry out an investigation into the contested law, chilling the plaintiff's ability to fight what they see as an unconstitutional state law.

The defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of the lack of dismissal of the case against the investigator on March 12, 2020. They argued that the Judge did not adequately consider the factual basis for relief and the subject matter jurisdiction arguments he raised in his motion to dismiss. The Judge has not ruled on this motion, and the case is ongoing.

Alexander Walling - 08/03/2018
Ellen Aldin - 06/04/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Conflict of interest
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Arizona
Plaintiff Description An Arizona-based statewide not-for-profit membership organization of criminal-defense lawyers, law students, and associated professionals dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused in courts and in the legislature.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/08/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
2:17−cv−01422−SPL (D. Ariz.)
FA-AZ-0001-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
FA-AZ-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 119] (2018 WL 1570244) (D. Ariz.)
FA-AZ-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 123]
FA-AZ-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 147] (373 F.Supp.3d 1242) (D. Ariz.)
FA-AZ-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 150]
FA-AZ-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 191] (2020 WL 954941) (D. Ariz.)
FA-AZ-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Logan, Steven Paul (D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0002 | FA-AZ-0001-0004 | FA-AZ-0001-0006 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arellano, Daniel Abraham (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Brody, Kathleen E. (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0001 | FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-0005 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Fischer, Ian Matthew (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-0005 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Furnish, Brenda Munoz (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0001 | FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Goldfine, Dan W. (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-0005 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Herrera, Roy Jr. (Arizona) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Keenan, Jared G (Arizona) show/hide docs
Lane, David A. (Colorado) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0001 | FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-0005 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Lieberman, Martin (Arizona) show/hide docs
McNulty, Andrew (Colorado) show/hide docs
FA-AZ-0001-0001 | FA-AZ-0001-0003 | FA-AZ-0001-0005 | FA-AZ-0001-9001
Stanton, Heather Lee (Arizona) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Baek, Richard Lim (Arizona) show/hide docs
Bonnell, Nancy M. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Hauser, Lisa Tewksbury (Arizona) show/hide docs
Laliberte, Carrie Anne (Arizona) show/hide docs
McCarthy, Eryn Marie (Arizona) show/hide docs
Roysden, Brunn Wall III (Arizona) show/hide docs
Sawyer, Kate B. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Skinner, Oramel Horace (Arizona) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Balson, Jamie A. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Cassell, Paul G. (Utah) show/hide docs
Clase, Colleen (Arizona) show/hide docs
Lines, Jacob R. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Polk, Sheila Sullivan (Arizona) show/hide docs
Udelman, Randall Scott (Arizona) show/hide docs

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