Posts tagged ‘Andrew Thomas’

Thanks, Joe

Maricopa County will likely settle three suits against Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas for about $2 million.  This is on top of nearly $1.5 million in defense costs the County has already incurred in the cases.   Apparently, they consider themselves lucky to be getting off that cheap.

Andrew Thomas Disbarred, but Only Because His Prosecutorial Abuse Was Against Elected Officials

The good news:  Andrew Thomas was disbarred, a fate he richly deserved for his amazing prosecutorial abuses, for example bringing fake RICO and bribery charges against a judge to force him to recuse himself from another case in which he was likely to rule against Thomas.  Some of my many articles on Thomas are here.

But here is what depresses me:  I believe he was disbarred only because his prosecutorial over-reach and abuse was aimed at public officials.  Similar or worse abuses against private parties are seldom if ever punished.   This is lawyers and public officials defending their own.  When I see this much concern aimed at abuses of private individuals, I will be more likely to cheer.

Update:  I am a terrible editor, but I am sure I did not type "Proprietorial" rather than "Prosecutorial" in the original title.  I think I have some kind of weird auto-correct problem going on.  Though until now I did not know "proprietorial" was a word.

I Simply Cannot Believe This Is Our Chief Law Enforcement Officer

And he keeps getting re-elected by wide margins.  Unbelievable.  

In a performance worthy of a Mafia don, Sheriff Joe Arpaio dissembled under oath today in a disciplinary hearing for disgraced former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and Thomas' ex-underlings, former deputy county attorneys Rachel Alexander and Lisa Aubuchon.

During more than two hours of questioning, mostly by counsel for the State Bar of Arizona, Arpaio's favorite response was, "I don't recall," which he repeated numerous times.

He asserted that he had delegated all authority concerning the investigations of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, county judges, and various other county officials to former Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Arpaio's hand-picked fall guy.

For those who don't live here, I can assure you that at the time, Arpaio took personal credit for everything the department did, using his simply astronomical PR budget.

Here, for example, is one of the key cases Arpaio is being asked to discuss.  He and former county attorney Andrew Thomas waged a war for years against their bosses, the County Supervisors, who frequently had the temerity to try to circumscribe Thomas's and Arpaio's power.  Among other craziness, Thomas, backed by Arpaio, filed a RICO suit against the supervisors.  When a Judge hearing the case, Judge Donahoe, issued some unfavorable rulings in that case, Thomas and Arpaio filed a bribery case against Donahoe, their wacky theory being that since the Supervisors had authorized a new County Court building, this was a bribe to Judge Donahoe, whose court would now be in the new building.  Arpaio claims he had nothing to do with any of this.  Here is his uninvolvement, via the AZ Republic.

 

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas on Wednesday filed criminal charges against Gary Donahoe, presiding criminal judge of Superior Court, accusing him of hindering prosecution, obstructing a criminal investigation and bribery.

The three felony charges relate to Donahoe's handling of criminal investigations into county officials, particularly a controversial court tower under construction in downtown Phoenix.

Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who stood side by side during a news conference Wednesday, have repeatedly questioned the $340 million joint project of the Superior Court and Maricopa County government.

By the way, it is a nice touch, right out of some place like North Korea, for a prosecutor to bring a judge up on charges for "hindering prosecution" merely for issuing a ruling form the bench which wasn't exactly what the prosecutor wanted.  Its more scary when you consider just how many judges truly are in the tank for local prosecutors.

Our Local Enemies List. Is This Finally the End for Sheriff Joe?

Folks in other parts of the country hypothesize that their politicians may or may not have enemies lists, but these are all, frankly, wimpy initiatives when compared to our famous Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his treatment of enemies.  You see, if Sheriff Joe sees you as a political enemy, he brings you up on charges.  When he came in conflict with his bosses, he and his buddy former County attorney Andrew Thomas brought them up on racketeering charges.  When a judge failed to deliver the rulings he wanted in that case, he brought the judge up on bribery charges that fell apart even before the ink was dry (read about some of the hijinx here).

Now there is an ongoing investigation of Sheriff Joe and his department around Arpaio's attempts to get a political opponent, one of his bosses on the Board of Supervisors Joe Stapely, brought up on charges.  Or at least, be seen in the media as brought up on charges, because it is fairly clear that Arpaio was less interested with the strength of the case (which like many of his other political attacks fell apart nearly immediatley) as casting negative media attention on a political opponent.  Money quote highlighted in bold, from the Phoenix New Times which has a great history of staying on Arpaio's case but does not write very well organized articles.

About a month after the indictment, MACE [a division within Arpaio's organization] raided the offices of an associate of Stapley's, developer Conley Wolfswinkel. The claimed justification was that the Sheriff's Office was looking for evidence of additional crimes that detectives had uncovered in the disclosure-form case.

Knight [leader of MACE] had reviewed the search warrant before a raid on January 22, 2009, and believed that he had enough evidence based on testimony from Stapley's bookkeeper, Joan Stoops, to carry out the raid. Stoops told detectives that it appeared Wolfswinkel had inked an agreement to pay Stapley hundreds of thousands of dollars in a land deal when Wolfswinkel had business before the Board of Supervisors.

Knight said Sheriff Arpaio reviewed the search warrant personally — and asked Knight why he hadn't included more details about the case in the warrant. Knight, according to the report, told Arpaio that the details weren't necessary to establish probable cause, the legal term for the level of evidence needed to persuade a judge to sign a search warrant.

The report doesn't specify which details Arpaio wanted Knight to add, but it does describe how Arpaio pressed him on the issue, saying he wanted to make sure the warrant would hold up. Knight didn't buy what Arpaio was saying, believing that the sheriff only wanted the extra information so he could sensationalize the case.

"Are we writing a press release or are we writing a search warrant?" Knight said he asked the sheriff. "I just need to be clear on what we're trying to produce here."

The sheriff stared at him and said sternly: "Get the information in there," the report states. Arpaio then got up and walked out.

Knight did as he was told and included the superfluous information. He had the warrant signed and prepared his deputies for the raid on Wolfswinkel's Tempe business office. He recalled that Arpaio's right-hand man, then-Chief Deputy David Hendershott, called Knight numerous times, asking: "Are we in yet?"

Hendershott, Knight stated, told him that as soon as the search warrant was signed, Knight was to go to the nearest Kinko's and fax a copy to sheriff's headquarters.

"So we get in; we secure the place," Knight said to investigators. "I run over to the nearest Kinko's, which is three or four miles away, [and] fax the document over to him.

"By the time I get back to Conley's business, I've already got a news helicopter flying overhead."

Knight found out later that the search warrant had been handed to the media in conjunction with a press release.

A news conference was under way before Knight got back to his office.

Arpaio also tailored his public statement to emphasize the shocking revelation that Stapley and Wolfswinkel were being investigated in an alleged "bribery" scheme.

The bribery story fell apart within days, by the way, as the officers realized they had the dates wrong on the land deal such that the deal and the supposed political payoff could not be related.

Arpaio faces a myriad of charges.  His defense was that it all happened without his knowledge, which is laughable given the way he is known to run the department.   He is claiming in his PR that the whole department is created in his image but that he has no responsibility for what it does.  Like any good mobster, he apparently had a consigliere named Hendershott who he is attempting to claim now was a loan wolf rather than Arpaio's right hand man, in order to deflect accountability.

The entire article is worth  a read for Arpaio-philes and phobes alike.  It serves as a good summary of some of the worst excesses of Arpaio's reign.

Update:  By the way, does anyone feel comfortable with a police department (much less sheriff Joe) having the weapon shown in this picture.   Can one imagine any legitimate use, short of perhaps a full-blow zombie invasion?   (source)

Worst. DA. Ever.

Andrew Thomas was very competitive in Radley Balko's Worst Prosecutor of the Year voting.  But if he had just waited a few days, this news could have easily put Thomas over the top:

The same people responsible for tens of millions in claims being filed against Maricopa County are now drooling after their own pot of gold.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and David Hendershott, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former right-hand man have filed a notice of claim along with Thomas' former lackey, Lisa Aubuchon, for a combined total of $60 million.
Aubuchon had already filed a $10 million claim; she's revised that to $22.5 million. Andrew Thomas, who quit the job voters gave him and failed in his bid to become state Attorney General, has the gall to seek $23.5 million from taxpayers. And Hendershott, the infamous Chief Deputy now under investigation following a co-worker's allegations of corruption and abuse of power, wants $14 million.

For the first time in my life, I voted in a partisan primary for the Coke/Pepsi parties this year specifically to vote against Thomas.  I cannot even imagine why they think they deserve this kind of payoff.  If anyone should be suing, it is the citizens of Maricopa County who should be suing these three.  Lots of articles about him on my site, but this one in the ABA Journal covers a lot of the ground.

Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas

The absolute dysfunctionality of our county government here in Phoenix is just beyond belief.   While not really breaking any new ground, this article in the ABA journal has a pretty good history of Arpaio and Thomas hyjinx.

Andy Thomas Apparently Toast

Our absolutely awful, self-serving, abusive County prosecutor seems to finally be getting the scrutiny he so richly deserves:

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Supreme Court has appointed a special investigator to look into accusations of misconduct against Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

That's bad, but it's not the end of Thomas's troubles.  The next shoe is the tort case.

Malicious prosecution is a tort and if a civil litigant obtains a ruling that Thomas abused his office, it could cost the County tens of millions of dollars.  Multiply that by the number of people whom Thomas has targeted, intimidated, abused or prosecuted and we are dealing with a very large number indeed.

Our Out of Control County Attorney

Radley Balko has a great article on Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, the wingman for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in any number of abuses of power.  I have tried to write about Thomas before, but some of his exploits are so bizarre and complex that they make simple description difficult, but Balko is clearly a better journalist than I and does a good job summarizing some of his most egregious actions.

The common denominator for both Thomas and Arpaio tends to be their near vendetta responses to anyone who either criticizes them or tries to limit their power (ie by denying a search warrant or dismissing one of their cases).

The most recent mess in Maricopa pits Thomas and Apraio against...well, just about everyone else. The two have been squabbling with members of the county board of supervisors for years over the construction of a $341 million county courthouse tower, which both feel is a waste of money. They might have a point. But Arpaio and Thomas are using criminal law as a cudgel in the dispute.

Last month, Thomas indicted two county supervisors on some petty financial disclosure violations. When Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe issued a ruling pertaining to the court tower investigation that Arpaio and Thomas didn't like, Thomas then indicted Donahoe for bribery, on the absurd premise that as a judge who works in the courthouse, Donahoe (who is retiring soon) would have benefited from the new tower. That indictment came shortly after Donahoe held one of Arpaio's deputies in contempt after a highly-publicized incident in which the deputy was caught on video stealing documents from the file of a defense attorney in open court.

Using criminal charges"”or the threat of them"”to silence political opponents has become something of a habit for Thomas. He has indicted more than a dozen public officials who have criticized him or Arpaio. He has launched or threatened criminal investigations into dozens of others, including politicians, columnists, and other media figures who have dared to criticize him or the sheriff. When Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked for a federal investigation of Arpaio's immigration enforcement tactics, Arpaio and Thomas investigated him too, attempting to snoop on Gordon's email, appointment book, and phone records. Thomas even recently threatened to criminally investigate a defense attorney for issuing public statements in support of his client.

These guys are from the bad, statist end of the Republican pond.  Interestingly, Thomas and Arpaio have alienated most of the Republican leadership in Arizona, and rely on their continued popularity with national conservative media and the local populace.   The latter is hard to describe to outsiders.  Its often hard for me to understand.  My best guess is that people ignore Thomas and Arpaio's worst behavior as aimed at people who somehow "don't count," particularly immigrants from Mexico.   Balko quotes Clint Bollack of the Goldwater Institute:

Bolick says their perseverance is also due to the polarizing effects of the immigration debate. Immigration "is extremely divisive," he says. "In the eyes of a lot of people, because they're cracking down on illegal immigrants, Thomas and Arpaio can do no wrong. So there's justification for whatever they do, and any criticism of them on any issue is a betrayal of the cause. It's really unfortunate that it's causing a lot of good people to turn a blind eye to ineffective law enforcement and abuses of power."

I don't want to violate Godwin's law here, but this quote springs to mind about the reactions to Thomas and Arpaio (from a member of the German protestant clergy in the 1930s)

First, the Nazis went after the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew, so I didn't react. Then they went after the Catholics, but I wasn't a Catholic, so I didn't object. Then they went after the worker, but I wasn't a worker, so I didn't stand up. Then they went after the Protestant clergy and by then it was too late for anybody to stand up.

Pink Jumpsuit for Sheriff Joe

Via Expresso Pundit:

It's becoming increasingly clear that Sheriff Joe--and probably County Attorney Andy Thomas--are going to be indicted on multiple felony counts.Maricopa County Manager David Smith issued this statement today.

Today's grand jury appearance was a welcome opportunity to tell our story on behalf of County employees.  Dozens and dozens of County employees, and some County vendors, have been targeted by Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas with retaliatory criminal investigations without cause, and disruption of their working lives without justification.

Sandi Wilson and I expect to return to the grand jury to give even more detailed testimony in three or four weeks about the many abuses of power by Sheriff Arpaio and his office that were generally described to the grand jury today.  We look forward to that next opportunity in the interests of justice.

Downfall, the Sequel: Arpaio and Thomas Go Into the Bunker

These guys have totally lost it. OK, they have always been bonkers, but they have finally lost their ability to paper over their nutty paranoia and quest for power in the media.  Remember I told you the other day that Arpiao and Thomas keep filing wider and wider criminal conspiracy charges against their critics.  Basically anyone who criticizes them or seeks to keep their power limited within Constitutional boundaries is a criminal in their eyes.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas called for investigations into the chief prosecutors of two neighboring counties on Thursday because they publicly criticized him and Sheriff Joe Arpaio earlier this week.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and Pinal County Attorney James Walsh sent separate letters to the Arizona Republic, criticizing what they called "abuses of power" by Thomas and his close ally, Arpaio.

Polk, a Republican who described herself as a passionate believer in limited government, accused the two men of "totalitarianism" and said they have become "a threat to the entire criminal-justice system" because of a series of a investigations they have launched against their foes.

In recent weeks, Thomas and Arpaio have announced more than a dozen criminal investigations into public officials who have criticized them in the past. The pair has said their fellow Maricopa County officials are engaging in a massive conspiracy to obstruct justice and limit their power. The investigations have resulted in criminal charges against two elected officials and a judge.

Now, Thomas wants a former state Supreme Court justice to investigate his neighboring prosecutors as part of what he calls "an orchestrated campaign to pressure law enforcement in Maricopa County to drop charges against influential criminal defendants and suspects."...

In his request to McGregor [PDF], Thomas ... accused the other prosecutors of essentially breaking the law by criticizing him and the sheriff. He said the pair violated rules for attorneys in Arizona, as well as tainted the pool of possible jurors in the ongoing cases....

In his request for an investigation into the comments, Thomas alluded to a supposed campaign to enlist these attorneys "and possibly other third parties" to criticize him and the sheriff.

Arpaio is the same paranoid who cost the County hundreds of thousands of dollars when he demanded extra security because he believed himself to be an assassination target.

If it wasn't so overdone, I would do another Downfall mash-up on this for YouTube.

My Votes in 2008

Should I Vote?  Yes, probably.  Many libertarians refuse to vote.  They refuse to be party to a choice between Coke-brand statism and Pepsi-brand statism.  I sympathize, and respect their decision.  You won't hear rants form me about the beauty of the right to vote.  But I see two reasons for libertarians to vote.  One is to find ways to register our existence, to try to communicate that just because we don't riot at WTO meetings doesn't mean that a great well of dissatisfaction does not exist among us.  The second reason is ballot initiatives.  While candidate A and B may be equally bad on the freedom scale, there is often a right answer for protecting freedom in the ballot initiatives, and they need your vote.

President:  Libertarian Party Guy.  Yeah, I know his name is Bob Barr.  I don't even care.  I am casting the vote for the idea, not the guy, in hopes that the Republicans, as they rebuild themselves over the next 2 years, might notice there are some libertarians out there looking for a home.  It would be nice to be as excited about a politician as some folks are about Obama, but really, they are excited by their own vision, not his.  We really know little about him, but my sense is that his every instinct about government run counter to mine.  McCain is hardly better, perhaps going Obama one further by matching him on tax increases and economic nuttiness but also throwing in a dollop of conservative restrictions on non-economic civil liberties.  And I think many of us are exhausted by the prospect of another 4 years of foreign-policy-as-penis-extension that McCain promises.

US Congress:  John Shadegg
.  If it weren't for Jeff Flake and Ron Paul, I would say Shadegg is about the best we libertarians can hope for of a major party candidate.  Not perfect (he was one of the ones who knuckled under on the second bailout vote) but pretty good.

County Sheriff and City Attorney:  Whoever is running against Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas.  Seriously.  I don't even know their names and I am voting for them.  I am sick and tired of Arpaio's schtick (index of articles here).  Anyone who can go on a crime sweep into the 99% all-anglo tony suburb of Fountain Hills and come out with arrestees who are 75% Hispanic is not even trying to be fair.  Andrew Thomas has had Arpaio's back for years, fighting many (losing) civil rights cases for him and prosecuting his critics in the media.

PROP. 100 Protect Our Homes:  Yes.  I am not sure this is even that relevant.  Prevents the imposition of taxes or fees on the sale of real estate  (e.g. no real estate sales tax).  Not sure if this is even a threat,  but I will usually vote to limit the power of government.

PROP. 101 Medical Choice for Arizona:  Yes.  This proposition would effectively prevent state health care laws like that in Massachusetts that require medical coverage and mandate certain types of medical coverage.  In Massachusetts, my current insurance plan (which I pay for and did a lot of research to uncover) is illegal (because it has a higher deductible that politicians want to allow).

PROP. 102 Marriage:  Big No.  I don't expect to change anyone's mind on this, but I am not in the least threatened by civil marriages of gays, and in fact have a number of friends and family members who have taken advantage of the brief window of opportunity in California to get married to their partner.  I am not sure how this can be a threat to me -- last I checked, my marriage is as strong today as it was before gay marriage was allowed.  This issue is sort of the conservative equivalent of the left's obsession with income inequality.  Conservatives tell folks (rightly) that they should be concerned with their own quality of life and not feel somehow worse if there are people who are wealthier.  But, then they tell us all our marriages are going to be worse because somebody over there who we never will meet is going to marry someone of the same sex.

PROP. 105 Majority Rules "” Let the People Decide:  Haven't Decided.  This is a weird one.  This would require propositions raising taxes to be passed only if the "yes" votes they receive equate to 50+% of the total registered voting population, not just of the people who voted that day.  Basically, it makes it impossible to have tax increases in propositions, which I like.  But it is a terrible precedent -- this is simply not how we count elections.  In particular, the "registered voter" number is almost meaningless.  Requiring a super-majority of those voting would be much better law.  I may well vote yes, because I suspect the next 2 years are going to be a heyday of taxation, but I will sort of feel guilty about it.

PROP. 200 Payday Loan Reform Act.  Yes.  Would un-ban payday loan companies in Arizona.  I have always supported choice, even for the poor and unsophisticated.  Payday loans are expensive, but as we have learned from subprime loans, maybe credit to borrowers with no income or assets should be expensive.  More here.

PROP. 201 Homeowner's Bill of Rights.  No.  Created by a pissed off union in a fit of pique as an FU to homebuilders.  Mandates decade-long warranties on homes, and offers a myriad of opportunities for trial lawyer hijinx.  And what problem is it solving?

PROP. 202 Stop Illegal Hiring Act.  Yes, I think.  Again, this is one of those confusingly worded initiates that like to use triple negatives.  But I believe it is a softening of the Immigration / hiring law that I have long opposed.  (related:  E-Verify reviewed here

PROP. 300 State Legislators' Salaries.  No.  Changed my mind on this.  At first, I thought current salaries were unreasonably low.  But now I think that they should all go out and get real jobs, and make the legislature part-time.  Maybe they'll meet less often.

Self-Aggrandizement at Public Expense

A while back, I complained about County Attorney Andrew Thomas's self-promoting billboard campaign to impose extra-legal additional punishment on convicted drunk drivers.  Thomas, by the way, teamed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a shameful government legal attack on a newspaper that had been critical of him in the past  (fortunately, that case has since been dropped).

Well, now it appears that Thomas has used public funds to send out thinly-veiled advertising for his re-election.

Maricopa County supervisors are questioning County Attorney Andrew
Thomas' use of public money to produce and distribute hundreds of
thousands of slick booklets that feature his name and smiling portrait.

County administrators on Tuesday said the 45-page pamphlets,
distributed in local newspapers, were paid for through the county's
general fund.

They believe more than 500,000 copies were produced. Most supervisors
said they were astonished to see that Thomas spent the money on
booklets that they said were "self-serving" and "self-promoting."

The only other comment I would make is that, knowing out board of supervisors, they are probably mad only because they did not think of this approach for their own re-election.

Good News

The case discussed here and here has been dropped against the Phoenix New Times

At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Maricopa County Attorney
Andrew Thomas announced that all charges against New Times, its owners,
editors and writers have been dropped "” and that special prosecutor
Dennis Wilenchik has been dismissed.