Archive for thomas

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
11

Court denies County Supervisor Don Stapley’s Motion to Dismiss

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Don Stapley is facing over 100 charges in the Superior Court arising from allegations that he completed financial disclosure forms containing omissions and misstatements.  His attorneys attempted to get the charges dismissed on the grounds that the county attorney had previously provided legal advice related to the disclosure forms.  In denying Mr. Stapley’s motion the court held:

The evidence is undisputed that the Defendant as a member of the Board of Supervisors for Maricopa County consulted with Deputy Maricopa County Attorneys assigned to the County Attorney’s civil department/division on matters relating to his official duties and provided financial information. It is also undisputed that generally the subject of that disclosure is also the subject matter of certain counts in the indictment against the Defendant. There is no evidence that any of the information disclosed to the civil Deputy County Attorneys was used to obtain the indictment against Defendant.

It is the Defendant’s position that because confidential information was obtained by the Maricopa County Attorney’s office that was part of the indictment, a conflict of interest was created. This conflict disqualified the Maricopa County Attorney’s office from appearing before the Maricopa County Grand Jury as an authorized prosecutor to present evidence under Rule 12.5, AZ Rules of Criminal Procedure. Defendant further argues that the appearance of an unauthorized person before the Grand Jury denies him Due Process and irreparably taints the indictment. This taint in turn requires dismissal.

The State’s argument in response is that there was no conflict of interest disqualifying the Maricopa Country Attorney since there is no attorney-client relationship. The Attorney-Client relationship, according to the State, is one created by statute, A.R.S. § 11-532(A) (9), which provides that the County Attorney is the legal advisor to the Board of Supervisors. The State further argues that this relationship does not extend to individual members of the Board.
The State’s position is that giving advice to individual members on how to deal with conflict of interest issues and on the financial disclosure forms as well as presenting evidence here to the Grand Jury is not egregious misconduct requiring dismissal.

At the hearing on these motions, a former civil department Deputy County Attorney and a current civil department Deputy County Attorney (civil deputies) testified. The testimony established that prior to this indictment, the civil deputies did not explain to newly elected county officials, including members of the Board of Supervisors, the scope of the attorney-client relationship with the Maricopa County Attorney’s office. The current civil deputy testified she gave “general advice” on conflict of interest issues and financial disclosure forms, but not “specific advice” on how to fill out the forms. She testified she gave individual advice relating only to a member’s role as a Supervisor and would not give advice on what information to include on the financial disclosure forms.

The former civil deputy testified that he gave legal advice to individual members if it was in furtherance of his representation of the Board of Supervisors. He also gave advice in the past to members of the Board of Supervisors on financial disclosure forms as to what items to include on the forms and viewed this as part of his role as a civil deputy. He viewed this as part of the attorney-client relationship and as confidential information. He has given advice to the Defendant on disclosure forms but cannot recall any specifics. He also noted however that if an individual member disclosed something that would concern the entire Board, he would discuss the matter with other Board members.

There is no doubt that the better practice would have been for the Maricopa County Attorney to refer the entire investigation at its inception to another State prosecuting agency, such as the Attorney General or another county attorney, given the relationship with the Board of Supervisors as its legal advisor. This Court must however review all the evidence to determine if, under the specific circumstances here, the Maricopa County Attorney was disqualified because an attorney-client relationship was created with the Defendant. State ex rel. Romley v. Superior Court, 184 Ariz. 223, 227 ( App. 1995).

As the Arizona Supreme Court noted in In re Petrie, 154 Ariz. 295, 299-300 (Ariz. 1987), the relationship is determined by looking at the parties’ conduct. For example, is there evidence that “… the party sought and received advice and assistance from the attorney in matters pertinent to the legal profession….” and what was the expectation of the client.

Here there is no dispute that the Defendant received legal advice and assistance from civil deputies within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The inquiry does not end here however. The test is a subjective one and requires this Court to look “…to the nature of the work performed and the circumstances under which the confidences were divulged….” In re Petrie, supra. A reasonable person in the Defendant’s position when soliciting legal advice and assistance from the civil deputies about business ventures that could be conflicts of interest and/or would be reportable on the elected official’s financial disclosure statements would have been aware that the Maricopa County Attorney is also a prosecuting agency in addition to acting as the legal advisor for the Board of Supervisors. This is not a situation where the Defendant first engaged a private attorney for legal assistance, divulged confidences and later was prosecuted by the same attorney on the same matters. It was not reasonable under the circumstances here for Defendant to expect that the Maricopa County Attorney was his attorney on all matters. The legal advice and assistance from the civil deputies related to Defendant’s role as a member of the Board of Supervisors. As Mr.Wolcott, the former civil deputy, pointed out, the individual legal assistance was only given to individual members as necessary to further the business of the Board of Supervisors, the County Attorney’s client.

There was an attorney-client relationship created but it was limited in scope. This hybrid or limited scope attorney-client relationship does not given the same protections one would expect from representation by private counsel. The confidences divulged to the civil deputies were not used to obtain an indictment against the Defendant. Unlike the situation before the Honorable Gary Donahoe in 462 GJ 350, the County Attorney here is not attempting to use privileged communications with its client, the Board of Supervisors, or investigating the client’s (the Board of Supervisors) activities upon which it gave legal advice.

This Court is not convinced that the type of attorney-client relationship created between Defendant and the Maricopa County Attorney would disqualify the County Attorney from appearing before the Grand Jury to present evidence of criminal activity by Defendant so long as no confidences were divulged. The Motion to Dismiss is denied.

Contact Phoenix DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Joshua Davidson today if you are facing criminal charges in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Categories : Criminal Law, Politics
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May
23

Three months after his escape, convicted sex offender Adrian Cruz remains at large

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On February 18th, Adrian Cruz was left unattended and walked right out the front door of the Maricopa County Superior Court during a recess in his trial. Over three months have passed since his escape and he remains at large. Mr. Cruz was already serving a life sentence for a previous sex offense and was being imprisoned in the secure confines of the Arizona State Department of Corrections. His escape has drawn criticism not only towards the Sheriff’s Office, but also towards Andrew Thomas and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for bringing charges against Mr. Cruz in the first place.

Contact Phoenix Sex Crimes Attorney Joshua S. Davidson today if you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse, molestation, or other sex crimes offense in Arizona.

Categories : Criminal Law, Politics
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