Archive for June, 2010

Jun
02

Thomas and Arpaio – a history of abuse

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In his notice of claim, the attorney for Judge Donahoe gave an account of the other well documented cases where the two officials abused the power of their offices for political gain:

This is  far  from the first  time Thomas and Arpaio have abused their power and authority  by  retaliating  against political  opponents  or  helping  and  encouraging  their allies  do  so.  In  fact,  they  have  a  long  established  custom,  pattern,  and  practice  of doing this.

A stunning example of  this arrogant abuse of power was shown  in  the manner in which Arpaio and Thomas treated the  transfer to Yavapai County Attorney, Sheila Polk,  of  the  investigation  into  various  County  officials  after  conflict  of  interest charges were made  against Thomas.  Sheriff Arpaio,  particularly,  grew  increasingly unhappy with  Polk’s  handling  of the matters,  specifically  her  rightful  resistance  to issuing  overly  broad  subpoenas  that  she  believed were  nothing more  than  “fishing expeditions.”  Once Polk demonstrated that she was “too independent” for the  likes of Arpaio  and Thomas, Thomas  simply  took  the  case back  to  be  handled  by  his office, despite the conflict of  interest.

Polk  later  characterized  Thomas’  and  Arpaio’s  abuses  of  power  as “totalitarianism,”  and  noted  that:  “Our power,  granted  to  us  by  the  people,  is  not  a personal  tool  to  target political enemies or avenge perceived wrongs.”  MCSO Chief Deputy  Hendershott,  not  surprisingly,  responded  to  Polk’s  comments  by  doing precisely what  she  cautioned against:  he  claimed that she,  too,  was  now part of  the alleged  “conspiracy”  and  should  be  investigated  by  the  FBI  for  hindering  Sheriff Arpaio’s corruption investigations!

Arpaio  and  Thomas  have  a  history  of  working  against  their  political opponents,  including  state  legislators  and  the  judiciary.  Several  years  ago,  Arpaio and Thomas  joined  to  form  an  anti-corruption  task  force,  called  Operation MACE. The  purpose,  ironically,  was  to  root  out  abuses  of the  public  trust.  The  first  target was  the  Maricopa  County  Community  College  System.  They  seized  hundreds  of boxes of  records and alleged that money appeared to be missing.  But nothing further happened with the  investigation.  In fact,  the  first  indictments from Operation MACE had nothing  to  do  with  the  community colleges.  Instead,  they  brought petty charges against  a  former  state  senator  from  Yuma,  Russ  Jones,  based  on  activity  during  a 2006 election.  The same allegations had been made against Jones during the election, and  were  dismissed  by  the  Arizona  Supreme  Court.  Jones  eventually  lost  the election.  And yet, Arpaio and Thomas brought the  same charges, again, alleging that Jones  presented  false  objects  for  filing  and  willfully  concealed  his  activities.  Not surprisingly, a trial court quickly dismissed the charges.

Arizona’s  Attorney  General,  Terry  Goddard,  has  also  been  the  subject  of investigation.  A  host  of  press  releases  were  issued  at  the  beginning  of  the investigation,  “evidence”  was  distributed  to  the  media,  and  allegations  were  made that  the Attorney General’s  office was  stonewalling.  Not  surprisingly,  even  after  4 years, there have been no  indictments or charges.

In another  instance,  in the dead of night,  the Sheriffs “Selective Enforcement Unit” pulled Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin from  their homes,  arresting them on a petty misdemeanor charge of publishing  in  their newspaper,  the Phoenix New  Times,  false grand  jury  subpoenas  that Thomas  and Arpaio  knew were  unlawful.  In  a  stunning retaliatory assault on the First Amendment, Arpaio and Thomas pursued this political prosecution  solely  in  retribution  for  articles  critical  of  them  that  the  paper  had published over the years.  The arrest, done on the pretext that the paper violated some non-applicable  statute,  generated  a  deafening  public  outrage  at  the  abuse  of power and process.  This time,  even Arpaio’s charges were  dropped,  the  Special Prosecutor who  spearheaded the  investigation was  fired,  and  all  involved,  including  the Sheriff, ran for cover, denying any and all  responsibility for ordering the arrests.

More  recently,  Daniel  Pochoda,  the  Arizona  director  of the  American  civil Liberties Union  (ACLU) was  acquitted on a charge of misdemeanor trespassing after he  was  arrested  and  prosecuted  for  his  mere  presence  at  an  immigration-related demonstration at a local furniture store.  Mr.  Pochoda was on the scene to meet with a client.  He  was  returning  to  his  car,  not  having  participated  in  the  demonstration, when four  Sheriffs deputies arrested him.  This  stunning abuse of power took a jury less than half  a day to hear and decide:  not guilty.

A SWAT  Team style  raid on the home of Dr. Sandra Dowling,  the Maricopa County School Superintendent, was  followed  by  indictment on baseless  charges  that she  allegedly  embezzled  or misused  $3.5  million  in  public  funds.  The  24  count felony  indictment was  later  dismissed with prejudice.  Though  she  was  vindicated, Arpaio and Thomas had succeeded in ousting her and closing the Pappas Schools: her reputation ruined, her life’s work demeaned and denigrated.

These instances of  abuse of  power, as horrifying as  they are, pale somewhat in comparison  to  the  latest  round  of baseless  retaliatory  investigations  and  suits,  both civil  and criminal,  that Thomas, Arpaio and  their minions have brought against other elected  officials,  County  management,  and  now  members  of  the  judiciary  – all designed for  no  other purpose  than  to  intimidate and punish  those  that disagree with their viewpoints.  This escalation of evil, this reign of  terror,  is  inexcusable.

If you or a loved one is being wrongfully prosecuted in Phoenix, contact attorney Joshua Davidson today.

Categories : Politics
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Jun
02

Sheriff’s grudge against presiding criminal judge recounted

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Superior Court Judge Donahoe’s attorney discussed the conflict between the Judge and Sheriff in his recently filed notice of claim:

The  Sheriff had  other,  more  personal  reasons  for  waging war  against  Judge Donahoe.  Some months earlier, a violent sex offender in court for a hearing escaped from  the Sheriffs custody during a lunch recess.  To  date,  he  remains at  large.  Soon after,  the  Sheriff  allegedly  implemented  new  security  procedures,  but  failed  to provide adequate  staff to  carry out  these procedures  in a timely  fashion.  The upshot was  that  criminal  defendants  in  the  Sheriffs  custody were  either perpetually  being brought  to  court late  for  various hearings or were not appearing  at  all.  These delays affected  attorneys,  judges,  jurors  and  defendants.  When  the  judges  with  criminal calendars  complained,  they  were  told  there  was  no  one  available  to  bring  the defendant to  the courtroom.  It fell to Judge Donahoe, as Presiding Criminal Judge,  to try to  resolve the problem.

Judge  Donahoe  met  repeatedly  with  MCSO  personnel  in  an  attempt  to improve  the  inmate  delivery  system.  The  court  administration  made  significant operational  changes:  consolidating  divisions,  reducing  courtrooms,  and  limiting hearings  to  only  certain days – all  in  an  effort to  assist  the  Sheriff in getting  inmates to  court on  time.  Nothing worked.  The  Sheriff continued  to  bring  them  late,  if he brought them at all.

The Sheriff has  a statutory  obligation  to  “attend all  courts”  and  “obey  lawful orders and directions  issued by  the judge.”  A.R.S.  § 11-441 (A)(4).  The Sheriff was directly  ordered  by  Judge Anna Baca  to  adhere  to  the  requirements  of that  statute. When  the  Sheriff failed  to  improve  his  inmate  delivery  performance,  the  criminal judges began  issuing Orders  to  Show Cause why  the  Sheriff should  not  be  held  in contempt  for  his  repeated  refusals  to  bring  the  inmates  to  court  on  time.  Judge Donahoe  held  a  hearing  on  the  various  OSCs  and  entered a  contempt order against MCSO  Deputy  Chief Trombi  (who  admitted  responsibility  for  getting  inmates  to court),  along with monetary  sanctions,  for  the  repeated  failures  to  deliver  inmates  to court.  Judge  Donahoe’s  Order  was  an  affront  to  Sheriff  Arpaio.  He  is  not comfortable abiding by any rule of  law that is not his own.

Finally,  Judge Donahoe handled  the  contempt charge brought against MCSO Deputy  Stoddard  – a  courtroom  deputy  who  sneakily  and  unethically  read  and removed  papers  from  a  defense  attorney’s  file  in  open  court  and  had  them  copied.  Judge Donahoe  found  him  in  contempt and ordered him  to  apologize  to  the  defense attorney.  Both the Trombi  and  Stoddard  contempt  findings were  upheld  on  appeal, though some of  the  sanctions were  overturned.  But these  actions of Judge Donahoe added  fuel  to  the  fire  of  enmity that had been raging between and among the Sheriff, County Attorney,  the BOS, and now  the  Superior Court.  It wasn’t long before Judge Donahoe was burned by these flames.

If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, contact Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Joshua S. Davidson today for a confidential consultation.

Categories : Criminal Law
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Jun
02

The Court Tower Project and Thomas’ misguided investigation

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Judge Donahoe’s attorney recounted the genesis of prosecutor Thomas’ retaliation against Judge Donahoe:

Thomas,  incensed by what he  considered  to  be  a usurpation of his  power,  not to  mention  the  cuts  to  his  budget,  both  real  and  threatened  by  the  BOS,  enlisted Arpaio and the  two  targeted a County project – they urged the BOS  to  scrap plans for the  long-planned  and  saved-for $347 million Downtown Court Tower.  This  project had  been  in  the  planning  stages  for  12  years;  money  had  been  put  aside  for  its construction  over  that  time,  and  the  BOS  refused  to  scrap  the  project.  Thomas  and Arpaio responded by launching a criminal investigation into  the BOS’ approval of  the Court Tower and Thomas  issued an astoundingly  broad grand jury subpoena seeking years worth of information about  the  project  from  the County.  The BOS  hired Tom Irvine  to  represent  its  interests.  He  moved  to  quash  the  subpoena  largely  on  the grounds  that  Thomas  had  conflicts  in  investigating  the  BOS regarding  the  Court Tower after  he  had  given  it  advice  on  the  same  topic.  In  true Alice  in  Wonderland fashion,  Thomas  then  announced  that  Irvine,  too,  was  now  part  of their  criminal investigation.

Judge  Donahoe,  as  Presiding  Criminal  Judge,  heard  the  matter  and  in February  2009  ruled  that Thomas  had  a  conflict  in  his  dealings with  the County  in that  he was  now  criminally  investigating a client  (the County and BOS)  that  he  had previously  given  legal  advice  to  on  the  same  topic.  Judge  Donahoe  disqualified Thomas,  quashed  the  Subpoena Duces Tecum, denied Thomas’ motion  to  disqualify Irvine, and his motion to assign the matter to  an out-of-county  judge. One month  later, Judge Donahoe denied Thomas’ request  that Stapley be held in  criminal  contempt of court  for  disclosing  information  relating  to  a  grand jury by sharing the Judge’s February 2009 ruling (which he  learned of  through his position as Supervisor)  with  his  criminal  defense  attorney  in  the  case  brought  against  him by Thomas.  Judge Donahoe declined  to  hold Stapley  in  contempt,  finding  that his  right to  counsel  in  the  criminal matter  trumped  any  secrecy  that  should  be  accorded  that ruling.  He also granted the BOS’ request to allow the ruling to be made public.

In  a  motion  for  reconsideration,  Thomas  alleged  for  the  first  time  that  a conflict existed  that  required  Judge Donahoe  to  disqualify himself.  He claimed  that the BOS’  lawyers, Tom  Irvine  and Ed Novak,  also  represented  the  Superior Court  in matters  involving  the  Court  Tower  and  that  Judge  Donahoe  should  have  disclosed that conflict and disqualified himself.  Judge Donahoe rightly denied the motion for a number of  reasons:  as  an employee of  the State, he  had no  conflict with the County’s project;  he  did  not  know,  before  the motion  for  reconsideration,  that Mr.  Irvine  and Mr. Novak  had  any  involvement with  the Court Tower;  he  knew  that Mr.  Irvine did not  represent  him  or  his  employer  in  the  Court  Tower matter;  he  had  and  has  no interest  in  or  involvement  with  the  Court  Tower  project  and  played  no  role  in  its design,  construction, or  funding,  nor had  he  ever discussed any aspect of  the project with Mr.  Irvine or Mr. Novak outside  any  court  hearing.  Thomas challenged Judge Donahoe’s  ruling  in  first  the  Court  of Appeals  and  later  the  Supreme Court.  Both declined to review the ruling.

If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, contact Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Joshua S. Davidsontoday for a confidential consultation.

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Jun
02

Notice of claim continued

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Judge Donahoe’s attorney continued:

Even  before  the  attack  on  Judge  Donahoe  and  the  judiciary,  County government  was  awash  in  political  intrigue,  retaliatory  lawsuits,  and vindictive criminal  investigations.  But  the  judges  and  the  Superior  Court  had  managed  to escape  the worst of the  fallout  from  the  acrimony  between County management and Thomas  and  Arpaio.  Disputes  over  the  anti-immigration  policies  of  the  County Attorney and  the Sheriff, budgetary constraints imposed by  the BOS on those offices, and fights over control of  litigation all coincided to  create a perfect storm of  antipathy and  contention  between  and  among  these  officials,  which  ultimately  resulted  in  the indictment of Don Stapley, Chairman of  the BOS.  Thomas, aided in his  investigation by Arpaio, brought 118  felony  counts against him for  alleged disclosure violations  in materials he  is  required  to  file  as  an elected official.  The BOS,  citing  irreconcilable conflicts with Thomas,  stripped his office of  the  right to  represent the County  in civil matters  (and  part  of his  budget)  and  set up  a  separate  civil  division  to  handle  those cases.

Categories : Politics
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Jun
02

Judge files notice of claim against sheriff and former county attorney

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An attorney representing Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe has filed a notice of claim against a number of current and former government officials including the sheriff and former prosecutor Andrew Thomas.  Here is an excerpt from the well-drafted letter authored by acclaimed attorney Michael Manning:

The Racketeering suit was an  ineptly  drafted  rant,  the  silly and  sophomoric  sputtering  of  Lisa  Aubuchon, Thomas’  central  sycophant.  Though  inept,  it  dripped  with  disdain  and disappointment  for  a  judiciary  that  dared  to  disagree.  Eight  days  later,  not  fully satisfied with the  sullying effects of  their Racketeering  slanders,  and at  the urging of Arpaio,  Thomas  escalated  their offense  by  filing  a criminal  complaint against  Judge Donahoe,  charging  him with  three  felonies:  hindering  prosecution,  obstructing justice, and bribery of  a public official!

Judge  Donahoe’s  alleged  “crime”:  he  issued  rulings  adverse  to  Arpaio  and Thomas.  The  Racketeering  suit  and  criminal  charges  against  Judge  Donahoe were the  pitiful  product of an  ugly  alliance  between Thomas  and Arpaio  to  exact  revenge for  those  adverse  rulings,  to  cause  Judge  Donahoe  to  remove  himself from  hearing those cases  and  to  strike  fear  into other members of  the judiciary should they dare  to disappoint Thomas and Arpaio by ruling against them.  Their message was clear:  rule against  us  and  we  will  flex  the  muscle  of our  offices  and  press  the  weight  of the criminal  justice  system  against  you  – and  no  process,  politics,  press,  or  rule  of law will  stand  in our way.  Even  seasoned and  cynical  political  observers and  those with some  ideological  alliance with Arpaio  and Thomas were  stunned by  the  third world-like  audacity  of these  elected  officials.  But,  of course,  these  were more  than  just elected officials – they were  law  enforcement officials  acting  in malevolent  concert, launching  a  nakedly  baseless  attack  on  the  judiciary  – and  with  such  transparent maliciousness.

Not  surprisingly,  given  the  sophomoric  lawyering  and  the  baseless  nature  of the  allegations,  Thomas  and  Arpaio were  forced  to  abandon  both  the  Racketeering suit  and  the  criminal  complaint.  But,  the  dismissals  were  not  really  voluntary  and there was no  apology  for  Judge Donahoe.  These dismissals came only after a Tucson judge disqualified Thomas from prosecuting Supervisor Wilcox because of a number of conflicts of interest and  then dismissed the  indictment against her.  In  that  ruling, the judge noted that Thomas acted unethically,  retaliated against those who disagreed with  him,  sought  political  advantage  by  prosecuting  those  who  oppose  him politically,  and  allied  himself with  Sheriff Arpaio,  who  “misused  the  power  of his office”  by  targeting opponents with criminal  investigations.  These damning  findings by  the  judge memorialized what most  people  knew:  that  Thomas  and Arpaio  had mounted  their  destructive  assault  on  Judge  Donahoe  to  retaliate,  intimidate,  and punish.

If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, contact Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Joshua S. Davidson today for a confidential consultation.

Categories : Politics
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