Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Gary Donahoe
TIME FOR JUDICIAL REFORM
Our sources tell us that the Arizona Supreme Court is currently considering an appeal of a Superior Court decision that disqualified the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office from investigating the Court Tower. Superior Court Presiding Criminal Judge Gary Donahoe refused to let the County Attorney’s Office prosecute the case, yet allowed the Court’s attorney Tom Irvine of the law firm Polsinelli Shughart, who was also representing the Board of Supervisors that authorized the purchase of the Court Tower, remain as legal counsel for both the Board and the Court. In a shocking display of judicial arrogance, Donahoe torpedoed the investigation to protect the Court Tower (where he will have a penthouse office) and Irvine.
- Irvine’s dual representation is “a blatant conflict of interest, one of the first kinds of conflicts you learn about in law school.”
If attorneys in this state realized what was going on, they would be shocked. Irvine is representing both sides of a business transaction – the Superior Court side that asked for the Court Tower, AND the Board of Supervisors side that authorized the expenditure. Irvine never even bothered to disclose his dual representation in the case. In fact, the Republican-dominated Board of Supervisors has actually allowed Irvine, a Democrat activist who used to be the attorney for the Arizona Democrat Party, to become their attorney instead of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in violation of the law.
The one-sided decision by Judge Donahue declaring that the County Attorney’s Office has a conflict of interest but the Court and the Board of Supervisors don’t when they’re sharing the same attorney is the most shocking display of judicial arrogance since the Prop. 100 fiasco a couple of years ago, when the Superior Court refused to enforce the new law prohibiting bail for illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes. In that situation, the Arizona Supreme Court had to step in to force the Superior Court to uphold the law. It looks like the Supreme Court is going to have to step in again to clean up this mess.
The appeal submitted to the Supreme Court summarizes the conflicts this way:
The conflicts of interest in this matter are numerous and severe. Shughart [Irvine] simultaneously represented two clients, the Superior Court and the Board, on the very same matter, the Court Tower project. Through this process, Shughart obtained a ruling from one client, the Superior Court, to benefit the other client, the Board. Moreover, in his minute entry, Respondent Judge stated he was releasing the ruling to the public in part to allow Shughart to use it to benefit Mr. Irvine in his other civil litigation. As a result, the minute entry has been used by Shughart not only to shut down the grand-jury investigation of the Court Tower, but also in an unrelated civil lawsuit filed by MCAO against the Board in which Shughart represents the Board. Finally, Shughart provided these legal services with all these multiple conflicts while one of its attorneys was the subject of a criminal investigation related to the Court Tower.
This is the strongest evidence yet that the judiciary is in dire need of reform. The Superior Court apparently thinks it’s above the law. This is the last straw for merit system appointment of judges, real reform will also include a change to electing judges.