If your neighbor repeatedly calls the police to cite you for excessive noise and urges the county attorney to prosecute, when you successfully defend yourself against these allegations, can you recover your attorney’s fees in a civil suit for abuse of process? In Fappani v. Bratton, No. 1 CA-CV 15-0527 (Ariz. App. Filed 11-16-2017), the Arizona Court of Appeals held no, not necessarily. Fappani purchased land in rural Maricopa County and built a dirt motorbike track for his young children. Next-door neighbor Bratton intensely disliked the track, believing it disturbed the desert landscape and devalued her property. Bratton filed several unsuccessful administrative claims, including zoning claims, against Fappani. Bratton also called the Sheriff at least 8 times, complaining of excessive noise, which led to two citations. Bratton pushed the County Attorney to prosecute the excessive noise violations, yet Fappani prevailed, and then promptly filed an action against Bratton for abuse of process. The two elements of abuse of process include “(1) a willful act in the use of judicial process; (2); for an ulterior purpose not proper in the regular conduct of the proceedings.” Nienstedt v. Wetzel, 133 Ariz. 348, 353 (App. 1982). The Court of Appeals found that Bratton did not improperly use the judicial process, in that the Sheriff signs the citations and the County Prosecutor holds the discretion whether to prosecute. Pre-prosecution statements to law enforcement are protected by immunity so that people won’t be deterred from reporting violations. In addition, the Court found no improper purpose by Bratton in the reports to the Sheriff, as the process was used with the intent to accomplish the result for which it was created. So, in a dispute between neighbors, it’s better for the neighbors to find some way to work it out, rather than to escalate the dispute to Court with rising fees that the parties are unlikely to recover.