Maricopa County courthouse

Maricopa County Courthouse building downtown Phoenix

(The Center Square) – Arizona is facing a lawsuit from its capital city in what appears to be an effort to stop the Legislature’s effort to shut down a civilian-staffed police oversight panel.

The city of Phoenix announced its attorney filed the lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court. It aims to invalidate House Bill 2893, the Legislature’s budget reconciliation rule because it violates the Arizona Constitution’s “single-subject rule” that prohibits bills omnibus bills that do many separate things, the lawsuit said. 

If successful, the court would invalidate the legislation. 

“The city of Phoenix is filing this lawsuit to ensure the State Legislature follows our Arizona Constitution. This year's budget illegally limits cities' abilities to serve our communities and undermines the legislative process," Mayor Kate Gallego said Tuesday a statement. 

Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, wouldn't give too deep of insight into the legal challenge to her legislation but said on Wednesday that "we will vigorously  defend all laws enacted by the legislature."

Among the facets of the bill is a portion that the lawsuit claims would change the way the city operates its newly created Office of Accountability and Transparency (OAT). 

The OAT’s mission is to “provide for independent civilian led review of the Phoenix Police Department." 

One of the provisions for sitting on the civilian oversight committee is not having any professional experience in law enforcement.

“Whatever you think about the merits of the substantive items in the bill the city is challenging, Arizonans of all stripes should, and do, agree that the Legislature has to follow the Constitution just as everyone else does," said Jean-Jacques Cabou of Perkins Coie LLP, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the city.  “The city's suit asks the court to enforce these rules in the Constitution."

The U.S. Department of Justice announced earlier this month an investigation into the Phoenix Police Department over allegations of improper use of deadly force and other unethical behavior.

Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher said that the police department and the city would cooperate with all requests made by the DOJ. 

The bill in question takes effect Sept. 29.

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, and Nevada. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.