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I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Supervisors ok to fire Thomas

Judge upholds board's decision to fire Thomas
Michael Kiefer - Aug. 28, 2009
The Arizona Republic


A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has upheld the Board of Supervisors' December decision to fire County Attorney Andrew Thomas as its attorney of record because of conflicts of interest.


In a ruling dated Aug. 21 but released Thursday morning, retired Judge Donald Daughton ruled that Thomas had not followed the rules of professional conduct in his dealings with the board. The board, Daughton wrote, was entitled to investigate whether Thomas had a conflict of interest in representing the board while criminally prosecuting one of its members.


Thomas also had protested the board's right to choose its attorneys without consulting him, and, by extension, to create its own civil-litigation unit to supplant Thomas' office in representing the board.


Daughton upheld the board's right to sidestep Thomas, but he provided an out for Thomas.
"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," Daughton wrote.


The supervisors lauded the decision.


"In more than 25 years as an elected official, I have never seen a public lawyer throw away his ethical obligations before," Mary Rose Wilcox said in a statement. "Judge Daughton has found that our actions were legal and needed. The bottom line is trust. You depend on a lawyer's advice. You can't have a lawyer who represents you in one case, then switches sides if he feels it's politically convenient."


Supervisor Andy Kunasek said the ruling "ought to signal the end of all the infighting and lawsuits initiated by the county attorney."


But a spokesman for Thomas said that Daughton's ruling would be appealed.


"The ruling today deprives the County Attorney's Office of its ability to effectively represent all other county officers in their well-justified disputes with the county manager and Board of Supervisors, who are currently opposed in some manner by every countywide elected official," Mike Scerbo said.


County Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins, in a prepared statement, said that the ruling "effectively robs me and other elected officials in Maricopa County of the ability to obtain legal counsel in disputes with the Board of Supervisors."


Hoskins called it "an endorsement of a power grab initiated by the county manager."


Hoskins is one of several elected officials who have sued the board over budget and management decisions.


After he read the ruling Thursday, Maricopa County Sheriff's Chief Deputy David Hendershott sent a message to the county, asking that all of the sheriff's civil cases be handled by the County Attorney's Office instead of the new county civil-litigation unit.


On Dec. 3, Thomas announced that Supervisor Don Stapley had been indicted on 118 criminal counts related to his financial-disclosure forms.


Two days later, the supervisors met to discuss whether they should seek outside legal counsel on civil matters.


Thomas objected, but the supervisors went ahead and hired outside attorneys to handle its business, and so Thomas sued.


Thomas then recused himself from the Stapley case and passed it to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office.


Earlier this week, another Superior Court judge dismissed 51 of the charges against Stapley when it was learned that the supervisors had never properly passed laws requiring financial-disclosures statements.


Another charge was thrown out in May.


Daughton on Thursday also ruled that the board was within its rights to create a new policy for county offices to make public-records requests and did not have to turn over documents to Thomas if he did not follow the policy.


Scerbo said that the ruling on the new public-records request policy "eviscerates Arizona's public-records laws."

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