Stay on track, get back on track

Stay on track, get back on track

Supreme clarity in general and for Rule 60(c)(6)

Even if you don't agree with its rulings, you gotta hand it to our current Arizona Supreme Court for generally producing clear, well-written and succinct opinions.

(I hope the fractured, SCOTUS-esq State v. Jean was an anomaly.)

I can think of several opinions off the top of my head from other decades that still perplex me. (Did anyone else have a problem with Markowitz v. Arizona Parks Board? No? Maybe it was just me.)

I'm a big fan of clarity. Don't make me guess the import or holding of an opinion. Obtuseness helps no one and muddies the water. Disavowing prior cases? Tell me. Clarifying a line of cases? Say it. Drawing a line in the sand? Dig that toe in for emphasis.

That's what the court did today in Gonzales v. Nguyen, which construes Rule 60(c)(6), Ariz. R. Civ. P.

Consider this: "Our Rule 60(c)(6) jurisprudence is not a model of clarity or consistency."

And this: "To the extent that some of our decisions suggest a higher standard, we disavow such statements."

And this: "Some Arizona decisions have indicated that the meritorious defense supporting the motion to vacate must be established by evidence extraneous to the existing record.... We do not find any such requirement in the language or purpose of the rule."

And, finally, this: "[W]e disavow language in prior decisions that suggests evidence outside the extant record is necessary."

Note: Before you civil litigators think about emailing me, the opinion refers to Rule 60(c) -- even though that provision now is Rule 60(b) -- because that's what lower courts used.


A personal jurisdiction refresher