Judge rules that Supervisors can’t make up fake ethical conflicts to steal Civil Division away
Supervisors will have to disband the new “Shadow County Attorney’s Office” in-house law firm they created
The corrupt Maricopa County Supervisors may have found an ally on the Superior Court, Judge Donald Daughton, to uphold their initial power grab when they stole the County Attorney’s entire Civil Division away last year, but a Court of Appeals panel has now reversed that decision in favor of Andrew Thomas, the former County Attorney. The Supervisors have a cozy relationship with the lower Superior Court court judges due to sharing the same attorney (Tom Irvine, former attorney for the Democrat Party), and the Supervisors control over the Superior Court judges’ budgets.
Thomas appealed that decision and fortunately the Court of Appeals did the right thing and ruled that the Supervisors must return the Civil Division and disband their new in-house Shadow County Attorney’s Office. Reports have increasiningly surfaced that other county agencies were unhappy being represented by the Supervisors’ new illegal law firm instead of the County Attorney. The Supervisors were not permitting a single county agency to use the County Attorney’s Office as required by law, they forced them all to report to their shadowy office.
Court of Appeals judge John Gemmill wrote in part,
“We conclude that when the county attorney has conflicts of interest that render him ‘unavailable’ to represent the county in certain matters, the board may retain outside counsel to advise the board in those matters.” But, he wrote, the county could not “divest the county attorney on a wholesale basis of his duty and authority to represent the county in civil litigation, as the board has done here.”
“The Board of Supervisors must bear in mind that when the county attorney follows the ethical rules in his relationship as attorney for Maricopa County and the Board of Supervisors, his office will then be the appropriate attorney of record for Maricopa County in those cases in which no conflict of interest exists.”
Three County Attorneys agreed with the decision: newly elected Bill Montgomery, interim County Attorney Rick Romley, and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Thomas said, “This ruling makes clear that the Board of Supervisors and their attorneys at the time, including Rick Romley, engaged in an illegal and expensive power grab that forced me to file suit.”
Romley said, “”The most unfortunate thing is that the board moved so aggressively and took away powers and resources and created a whole new department that now needs to be eliminated. The bottom line for me is, I think it’s good government. It’s checks and balances.”
But according to an article in the Arizona Republic, the County Supervisors have no intention of returning the Civil Division. In fact, a press release they issued sounded delusional, ” The Arizona Court of Appeals has vindicated the actions taken by the Board of Supervisors to deal with the outrageous ethical conflicts of discredited former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.”
How long will the Supervisors continue wasting thousands of our taxpayer dollars feuding with other county agencies? They continue to spend a lot of time and our money “investigating” Sheriff Arpaio, but nothing ever goes anywhere. When they are up for reelection in two years, vote them out and elect a completely new slate.
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