Posts tagged ‘County Attorney’

Puppycide

From the AZ Republic

A Flagstaff police officer who used his baton, boot and a cable to kill an injured dog after a fellow officer accidentally hit the animal with his car in August will not face criminal charges, according to the Navajo County Attorney’s Office.

...

Tewes was called after another officer hit a loose dog with his car Aug. 19. Tewes and the other officer decided the dog needed to be euthanized, but Tewes was concerned about using his gun in the neighborhood.

According to a Coconino County sheriff’s investigative report, Tewes repeatedly tried to bludgeon the dog to death, but it didn’t die. He then tried to jump on the dog’s head and cave in its skull, but that also didn’t kill the animal. Eventually, after some 20 to 30 minutes of trying to kill the dog, he used a hobble, which is like a metal cable, to try to strangle the dog. It took several tries before the dog died.

We give police officers unique and dangerous powers and authority.  It is amazing the poor judgement of the people we so entrust.

My Vote Yesterday

Like many libertarians, I am tempted not to vote each election, though I usually do.  However, choosing between whatever lesser evil exists in the Coke or Pepsi party gets tiresome.  Given that, I have never voted in a party primary, until yesterday when I voted in the Republican primary simply to vote against Andrew Thomas for state Attorney General.  Thomas has for years been Joe Arpaio's chief enabler and of late as County Attorney has spent his time launching frivolous lawsuits against his political enemies, from County supervisors to judges.  When attorneys from adjacent counties would not support his suits, he sought criminal charges against them.

Most recently, it was revealed that a series of grand juries, which typically will indict an inanimate object, not only refused to indict in several of his cases but ordered him to shut down the investigation entirely.  This useless prosecution of a County Supervisor turned out to be part of a plan.  When Thomas decided to vacate the County Attorney position to run for state DA, he disagreed with many of the County Supervisors as to who his replacement should be, and as narrated in this letter, began filing charges against Supervisors to deny them a quorum  (apparently some quid pro quo discussions, of the sort "we will drop the charges if you vote how we want" were actually recorded and turned over to the US Attorney, so if Thomas should win his election we be following the NY/Spitzer path of having our top state legal officer facing felony charges and disbarment.

Unfortunately, Thomas (and Arpaio) have somehow become folk-heroes among lame-brained Arizona voters, who tend to accept any sort of civil rights violations by officials as necessary measures to maintain the peace in the face of the dreaded Mexican immigration wave, so their re-election chances are not necessarily hurt by near Louisiana or Chicago levels of abuses of power.

I was tempted not to vote -- you know, one vote won't matter -- because I felt downright icky actually voting in the Coke primary.  But in AZ, the Coke primary is pretty much the election since the state is so full of Coke voters, so I did it.  As it turns out, my vote may matter.

99.7% of Precincts Reporting
(2232 of 2239 Precincts)

Republican Votes Percent
HORNE, TOM 233,700 50.0%
THOMAS, ANDREW P. 233,327 50.0%
Total Number of Votes 467,027

Don't know a thing about Tom Horne, but I eagerly voted for him as not-Thomas.  Here is the lock of the week:  with a vote this close, Thomas will keep this in the court for months, perhaps years.  If he gets the wrong decision, he will go after the judge, and if that doesn't work.....

Update: Apparently, Arpaio got his guy elected in the race to fill Thomas's county attorney seat, so I suppose once we get rid of one Arpaio-enabler we just end up with another.  I took Arpaio's list of people he endorsed yesterday and the only votes I cast were for whoever the challenger was to team Arpaio.

Update #2: This is a depressing quote (emphasis added)

Oddly, the truth-telling was attributed to our own local Pinocchio, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in regards the decisive victory of Bill Montgomery over interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.

"That's going to make my job very easy," Arpaio said of Montgomery's win.

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.

Could This Be The Tipping Point for Arpaio and Thomas?

It is not uncommon for certain shady dealing to go on for years, with a small group of critics but never really breaking out into the media.  We skeptics have been criticizing climate scientists for years for various problems with their temperature indexes and historical temperature reconstructions, but never really got traction until the CRU emails were made public, and then there has been a real firestorm of media attention.  Criticisms that never got much traction before are now being actively investigated.

I am hoping that we have a similar situation with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas.  The story is so wacky it simply defies easy description, but Arpaio and Thomas have been pursuing a number of corruption probes against their bosses in the County government.  All well and good, except for the funny fact that the targets of the probes all seem to be historic critics of Arpaio and Thomas, who have brought out their biggest guns for the one Democrat on the County Council (Arpaio and Thomas are both Republicans).

Both these men have  a history of indifference to civil liberties.   When Arpaio is not busy arresting folks for breathing while Mexican (he once managed to make a crime sweep through the 99% Anglo neighborhood of Fountain Hills and arrest 75% Mexicans), he likes to haul folks off to jail whose only crime is speaking out against the Sheriff .   He arrested (with Thomas's help) newspaper reporters and editors who wrote critically of him.  This is a man who in his paranoia invented an assassination plot (against himself, of course) and got the city to spend $500,000 protecting him.  If his deputies want to see a defense attorney's working papers, they just take them.  If he can't get a judge to release computer records, he has his posse storm into the County computer center and take it over at gunpoint.

Most recently, Thomas and Arpaio wanted a judge who has handed them a number of court losses removed from a certain case.  To make that happen, Arpaio and Thomas bizarrely charged the judge and numerous other county employees in a giant RICO case, a case attorneys are still laughing about because it was so transparent and shoddy.  When that didn't work, he charged the judge with felony bribery, apparently on the interesting theory that getting a new, updated court house building was effectively a bribe to the judges working there.

It gets much weirder even than this, with Arpaio's stealing documents from a defense counsel in court (caught on video) with this same judge holding Arpaio's deputy in contempt for the action and then the sheriff's deputies essentially going on strike at court, refusing to bring in prisoners.

But after years of fawning, positive publicity as "Americas Toughest Sheriff," the dam may finally be breaking.  When the AZ Republic finally covers it, you know the situation has to be bad:

Hundreds of attorneys gathered on the courthouse steps in downtown Phoenix to protest Thomas and Arpaio's public campaign against public corruption.

LOL, I have a picture of these guys with suits and holding placards.  Anyway, this was a real blow:

And, in a scathing letter to The Arizona Republic, the Yavapai County attorney

, who previously handled some of Thomas' cases against county officials, blasted the prosecutor and sheriff as "a threat to the entire criminal-justice system."

Oops, so much for the respect of your peers.  Shelia Polk, the Yavapai County attorney (that is a neighboring county) handled the investigations into some of Arpaio and Thomas's early charges against our County officials, so she knows the details of the story.  And she is a Republican, the same party as Arpaio and Thomas:

In her letter, Polk wrote that although Maricopa County isn't her jurisdiction, she can't sit by and watch the abuses from a distance anymore.

"I am conservative and passionately believe in limited government, not the totalitarianism that is spreading before my eyes," she wrote. "The actions of Arpaio and Thomas are a disservice to the hundreds of dedicated men and women who work in their offices and a threat to the entire criminal-justice system."

Polk had stayed out of the legal drama in Maricopa County, and her remarks offer the first insight from an outside law-enforcement official who has some knowledge of the cases Arpaio and Thomas have lodged against county officials.

Arpaio's response was predictable:

Hendershott spoke on behalf of Arpaio. Hendershott said that Polk's office repeatedly failed to issue subpoenas the Sheriff's Office needed.

"It seemed clear to us that this case was being deliberately stalled," he said. "We basically let her know that her work product was ineffective."

This is a constant refrain from the sheriff - anyone who seeks to impose any limit on his power is therefore evil and conspiring to thwart his will.  It comes up time and time again - he simply does not react well when denied a subpoena, or a search warrant, or access to certain information.  If they are not rubber stamping Sheriff Joe's requests, then they must be corrupt.  If he had been honest, his RICO charges would have simply read "they didn't give me what I want."  But there is a reason these third parties are part of the process, and you can see it in Polk's letter:

Polk said she worked with the Sheriff's Office on the cases for the next six months, then returned the cases to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

In Polk's letter, she wrote that she was "happy to remove myself from the cases and from contact with Sheriff Arpaio. My discomfort grew daily and my role in restraining potential abuses of power increasingly more difficult."

Look in the Dictionary Under Dysfunctional and You Will Find This

Taxpayers in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) are paying millions of dollars for officials within the county government to sue each other:

Lawsuits between county agencies including the Sheriff's Office, the County Attorney's Office and the Treasurer's Office against county administration have cost more than $2.5 million in legal fees according to the county's records through early November.

The Sheriff's Office has used attorneys from Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart to wage legal battles with the county on issues including control of a law-enforcement computer system and the need to release surveillance footage of sheriff's deputies arresting Supervisor Don Stapley

in a county parking garage.

Next year, the Sheriff's office has asked for $7 million for this purpose.  Wow.  Given that I despise Sheriff Arpaio, I would love to lay this all at his door step but my sense is that the dysfunctionality goes broader and deeper.

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.