Thomas loses big time – but wins
by E.J. Montini
Everything about the decision rendered by Judge John Leonardo appears to be a legal smack down of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
He dismisses charges against Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. He chides Thomas for conflict of interest and for bullying. For using his office to go after political enemies.
Then, at the very end of his ruling, after slamming Thomas for roughly eight pages, he gives the county attorney EXACTLY what he wants.
The judge decides that he will not prevent Thomas from appointing a “new independent prosecutor.”
The judge writes, “The MCA may appoint a special independent prosecutor on the condition that the new prosecutor is not independently subject to disqualification, and that the MCAO and the MCA relinquish total control of the investigation and prosecution of Defendant to the special prosecutor and refrain from any further participation in these matters.”
A few days ago, perhaps sensing that such a ruling might be in the offing, Thomas’s assistant Barnett Lotstein told me that if the judge were to say that Thomas must appoint a special prosecutor that he would be giving Thomas “what we been asking for all along.”
It’s uncertain exactly how such a prosecutor can or would be appointed, given all the conflicts that everyone has. But it seems to suggest that the case hasn’t gone away.
It should. Thomas should drop it. He never should have pursued it in the first place. But doing the right thing hasn’t been much of a priority in the feud between the prosecutor and county supervisors.
Meaning, I guess, that today’s ruling was a complete loss for Thomas’s office … except for the part where they won.
E.J. Montini writes for the Arizona Republic