The administrator of Pima County’s consolidated justice court recently spent one day in the county jail and paid nearly $2,100 in fines and fees after pleading guilty to a DUI charge, according to public records.
Lisa Renee Royal was cited in the early hours of Jan. 1 for DUI while driving her personal vehicle with a preliminary BAC of .115. She entered a plea March 19 to a Class 1 misdemeanor of being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor “to the slightest degree.”
Royal, 60, is responsible for the planning and direction of all non-judicial operations of the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court and its $9.4 million annual budget. She took the position -which she previously held for several years – in 2017 after a brief term as Justice of the Peace in the Green Valley Justice Court.
Public records show Royal was pulled over for an inoperable headlight by a Pima County deputy sheriff assigned to a New Year’s Eve DUI Taskforce. She staggered after getting out of her vehicle, failed a field sobriety test, and mistook a credit card for her driver’s license, according to the deputy.
Royal was cited by the deputy and released to a friend at the scene instead of being booked into the Pima County jail. The deputy’s decision to release Royal without arrest also meant her car wouldn’t be towed.
In Arizona, officers and deputies have wide discretion in many situations on whether to arrest and book someone into the county jail or cite the person with a written promise to appear in court at a later date. There is no indication that the deputy was aware of Royal’s high-ranking court position at the time of the traffic stop.
Royal’s citation, however, raised questions earlier this year when there was no record of her case on the Pima Consolidated JP Court website. The record became public only after media inquiries. There was then a delay while efforts were made to find a judge to hear the case who wouldn’t have a conflict given Royal’s position.
After a brief assignment to Oro Valley’s magistrate, the case was transferred to the Tucson City Court where it was assigned to Magistrate Jay Cranshaw.
Under Arizona’s drunk driving law, Royal’s conviction called for a sentence of 10 consecutive days in the county jail. However, the law also permitted Cranshaw to suspend 9 days of the sentence if Royal completes a court-\ ordered alcohol or other drug screening, education or treatment program.
Royal must also serve three months of unsupervised probation, a common requirement for defendants like her without a criminal history. In addition, she was required to equip any motor vehicle she operates with a certified ignition interlock device.
A court official told Arizona Daily Independent that Royal is not using a county vehicle as part of her work duties.
The New Year’s Day traffic stop was the second time Royal was pulled over in two weeks. Court records show she was cited in mid-December and paid a $130 fine for failure to obey a traffic control device.