Why a Maricopa County constable says he didn’t serve 80+ orders of protection
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — One of the most important jobs constables has is serving orders of protection. But what happens when these important court papers are never delivered?
Maricopa County Constable Carl Seel has a lot of explaining to do. A complaint filed with the Constable Ethics, Standards and Training Board states that Seel failed to serve “over 80 orders of protection” during a nine-month period last year. It’s a situation that’s extremely alarming to domestic violence advocates like Myriah Mhoon with the New Life Center.
“That is scary because when we build those safety plans, we know the risk of injury and death due to these situations,” said Mhoon. “We need to encourage that we’re not flippant around the safety measures and safety nets that orders of protection can provide.”
Constable Seel sat down with Arizona’s to explain why so many orders of protection in his Moon Valley district of Phoenix were not served. The former state lawmaker, who started his constable career in January 2021, told us he wasn’t properly trained on the AZPoint system. Constables use AZPoint to see what cases they have and what court orders need to be served.
He said it wasn’t until the ethics complaint was filed that he realized he was doing something wrong and a stack of protection orders was piling up. “You did know you’re supposed to serve orders of protection in person, right?” Arizona’s Family asked Seel. “Of course I did. Of course I did,” said Seel. “I’m not saying I didn’t attempt to do that. It’s just I put notes on my documents because that’s what I was trained to do and that’s what I knew at the time, so that’s what I did.”
Presiding Maricopa County Constable Michael Branham tells a very different story. He’s the one who filed the complaint against Seel. He said that Seel was one of many newly elected constables last year who received weeks of extensive training on how to serve warrants, how to fill out paperwork, and how to use the AZPoint system.
Seel was the only new Constable who failed to serve so many orders of protection. “When you feel you’ve got something you don’t seem to understand how to work, reach out and ask more experienced people, they’re here for a reason,” said Branham. “If he’d have done a great job and simply asked for help, I don’t think we would have ever reached the formal stage for a complaint or improvement plan.”
The Constable Ethics Board determined that Seel’s lack of attention to the orders of protection was unacceptable, given the impact on public safety. He was issued a letter of warning and required to go through additional training, which is still ongoing.
Seel said he takes full responsibility for what happened and has addressed his outstanding warrant situation. “I wish it hadn’t gone so long,” said Seel. “I wish I would have learned what I didn’t know a bit earlier. I should have seen this problem ahead of time.”
Constable Seel also said that none of the outstanding orders of protection led to anyone getting hurt, whic is a relief. According to Branham, Seel is now up to date on how the AzPoint system works and no longer has a large backlog of cases. Seel plans to keep it that way.
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