Cecil Ash was my judge for almost seven years. I learned something very important from him, and I’d like to tell you the story behind it.

If someone is unable to pay for filing fees, or the process of service, in our court they can apply for a “fee waiver”. This gentleman had filed a small claims summons and complaint, for $109.00 against the apartment complex he’d just moved out of. He had applied for and received, a waiver for the process of service, which is how I got involved.

Now in the world we live in, of court staff time, and attorney’s fees, $109.00 is not a lot of money, but it was to him. The defendant was an apartment complex I knew well. Over the years, I’ve literally done hundreds of evictions for them and knew the manager well. My recollection was that I never even served her, as she cooperated fully. She spoke with her attorney, whereupon they decided to pay him, as his disagreement was “somewhat” reasonable.

I spoke with Judge Ash about this, basically asking him if he thought it was okay for me to act outside of my duties for this particular action. I was only supposed to serve the papers. That’s when Judge Ash explained to me about “the interest of justice”. That is, if I could resolve the case now, it would save the court time. Believe it or not, the court’s time is referred to as “clerk minutes”. Years ago, our court was the busiest court in all of Maricopa County, based on ‘clerk minutes.’

The apartment complex cut me a check in the plaintiff’s name, which I picked up, along with a release their attorneys had provided them. I met the plaintiff at his new apartment complex and conducted our business in the parking lot. I’ve pointed out, in other blog articles, that being an elected official is nice in these situations. You can make decisions like this, and not worry about losing your job. Now, obviously, throughout history, there have been numerous elected officials, throughout the world, who have taken advantage of their position, but I’m not of that ilk.

What I learned from Judge Ash and the way I handled this case was VERY satisfying for me. My nature is to enjoy simplifying things; I don’t like waste. I had handled it like it was a writ of execution, an order to seize, but of course, I had no authority to do so. The apartment complex had handed me the check for the plaintiff, voluntarily.

I’ve even run into similar situations with something called a civil arrest warrant. It’s where someone is to be brought before the court. I’ve collected payments, to satisfy judgments, from defendants who were faced with a civil arrest warrant in my possession, but didn’t want to go back to court.

I’ve gotten pretty good at collecting from people over the years. It makes me feel good when I’m able to make someone feel whole.

— Ed Malles