‘Let’s choose integrity’ for Desert Ridge JP

Cathy Riggs
Cathy Riggs

The Commission publicly reprimanded Jayne while noting he had received direct education on this legal issue at least twice before


CAVE CREEK – There is another three-way Republican primary for Desert Ridge Justice of the Peace that consists of Clancy Jayne, who is seeking reelection; Jeff Schapira, a Democrat convert who ran for the same post in 2012; and Cathy Riggs, a former police officer with a law degree.

Clancy Jayne
Clancy Jayne

Let’s start with Jayne, who has now been reprimanded five times by the Commission on Judicial Conduct for violations of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct – three times in 2011, again in 2012 and again in 2013.

The first time, Jayne acknowledged in his response that he engaged in numerous improper ex parte communications with the parties on one side of a case before him.

The second time, the Commission received information about Jayne’s activities and opened its own investigation.

It determined Jayne’s “Breakfast with the Judge” series raised concerns pursuant to several rules of the Code of Conduct and issued Jayne a “private, strongly worded warning letter …”

The Commission also noted Jayne’s personal website included a list of local resources referencing only one political party, which the Commission said suggested Jayne may be subject to political influence.

Jayne’s website also included a reference to his private consulting work, a potential violation of Rule 1.3.

The Commission addressed those particular concerns through a private advisory comment.

Jayne’s personal website contained an advertisement for his wedding services, which the Commission called a clear and direct violation of Rule 3.16(C).

Since Jayne had already received an advisory letter for including a wedding services advertisement on his website, the Commission determined the violation warranted a public reprimand.

Later that same year, the Commission received an anonymous complaint alleging Jayne had engaged in improper ex parte communications with a defendant and improperly handled the matter.

The complainant claimed Jayne treated the defendant differently because of a personal or political relationship.

The Commission determined Jayne engaged in several, improper ex parte communications, in clear violation and limitations of Rule 2.9.

The Commission found the personal nature of Jayne’s communications particularly concerning; especially in light of the fact at least one communication occurred through Jayne’s private email account.

Jayne was publicly reprimanded and urged by the Commission to closely review the requirements and prohibitions found in Rule 2.9.

In 2012, the Commission was alerted to Jayne’s website, which continued to improperly advertise wedding services; improperly listed corporate sponsors, including companies that provide services to the court; and invited improper ex parte communications.

Once again, Jayne was found in violation.

Despite receiving a prior informal sanction for violating Rule 3.16(C), Jayne failed to ensure the issues with his website were resolved.

Jayne was publicly reprimanded and ordered to obtain a mentor to specifically address concerns related to his personal website.

In 2013, yet another complaint against Jayne was submitted claiming he improperly handled a case involving an individual with whom he has both personal and professional relationships.

The Commission wrote, “Rules 1.1 and 2.2 generally require judges to abide by and apply the law. Rule 2.11(A) generally requires a judge to disqualify himself ‘in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might be reasonably questioned.’”

The complainant notified the Commission that an individual, who not only personally contributed to Jayne’s campaign but took over a debt owed by Jayne’s campaign, filed a request to serve as his granddaughter’s representative during mediation in a case pending before Jayne.

Jayne improperly granted the request even though the individual is not an attorney and not legally permitted to serve as another party’s representative in a legal proceeding.

The Commission publicly reprimanded Jayne while noting he had received direct education on this legal issue at least twice before and, beyond the clear legal error, he should have disqualified himself from making any rulings in the underlying case due to his relationship with the party.

Although one is not required to have a legal background to run for Justice of the Peace, Jayne, the one-term state representative who was unable to obtain the required number of valid signatures to remain on the ballot for reelection, is literacy challenged.

Several years ago, some of Jayne’s emails were forwarded to a Phoenix newspaper to reveal his illiteracy. In one of them, Jayne used the word “spook” as the past tense of “speak.”

However, when Jayne originally ran for Desert Ridge JP in 2008, his bio stated, “Returning to school is an important commitment I’ve made to continue to grow and improve our professional capabilities.”

Jeff Schapira
Jeff Schapira

It’s not clear why Schapira, vice president of Action Equipment and Scaffold Co., Inc., is in the race, unless it’s to assist Jayne in the primary by splitting the vote.

Other than his signs, Schapira has no website and doesn’t appear to be campaigning or bothering to mention anywhere that he’s running.

According to Schapira’s Facebook page, he attended the University of Arizona as a political science major and, other than stating he attended Central High School in Phoenix, no other information is posted about him on his Facebook page.

There is nothing posted publicly about Schapira’s work background or even the fact that he’s running for justice of the peace.

Schapira also ran in 2012, creating another three-way primary that resulted in Clancy Jayne getting reelected despite their opponent Attorney Bill Ponath being infinitely more qualified.

The reason Schapira’s signs are emblazoned with the word “Republican” is because he was registered as a Democrat until 2010.

Then there’s Riggs, a native Arizonan from Tucson, who returned to Arizona 14 years ago after a law enforcement career with the Santa Rosa, Calif. Police Department, where she became the department’s first female police officer.

Riggs, who also taught at the police academy, has a law degree, which she said she earned by going to school four nights a week while raising three children.

“It can be done,” said Riggs.

When asked why she decided to run for JP, Riggs said it was an opportunity to use her experience in law enforcement and, after having sat in on Jayne’s courtroom proceedings, Riggs added, “to raise the bar.”

Endorsed by the Arizona Police Association and constables that work out of the Northeast Regional Court Center, Riggs stated, “Let’s choose integrity,” for our courts.