Arizona lawyers and judges still look at cases and laws from stagecoach days to figure out whether defendants are entitled to a trial by jury, reports the Associated Press. If you’re accused of certain misdemeanor crimes in Arizona, whether you’re entitled to a jury trial may depend on whether there was a right to one when Arizona became a state in 1912. Sometimes that means going back before territorial days to see how a similar offense was handled under English common law, the legal principles that evolved on a case-by-case basis over centuries, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and served as a foundation for U.S. law.
In the past two months, the Arizona Court of Appeals has done just that sort of analysis in two cases. In one, the court held that there is no right to trial by jury for the misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In the second case, the court ruled that someone charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest has the right to have a jury hear the case. Other recent jury trial rulings by Arizona courts dealt with people charged with such everyday offenses as drunken driving, assault, drag racing, disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon.