Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bad Prosecutors, Arpaio's Boy, Andrew Thomas Takes the Stand

In the continuing car wreck that is Maricopa County, Arizona local politics there was an extraordinary proceeding yesterday at which Sheriff Joe Arapaio's consigliere, Andrew Thomas testified at a hearing to determine whether Thomas should be disqualified from prosecuting other county officials who are politically at odds with Sheriff Arapaio. 

The Bad Lawyer has followed these cases since thr outset of recent events that include hiring $1100 an hour appellate lawyers from D.C. to advance the personal animus of the Sheriff, the one who calls himself, America's Toughest.  The underlying story is that Maricopa County, which encompasses metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona is the land of the "snow bird." Seniors and others flock south in the winter months, and property values sky-rocketed until recent years.  In the view of Arpaio and others problems in Maricopa County are precipitated by illegal immigration from Mexico and Central American countries.  Arpaio's approach to crime includes enforcing federal immigraton laws, and his approach to enforcing state and local laws are said to involve racial profiling and discrimination especially against persons of hispanic heritage. 

Sheriff Arpaio's power increased with his perceived "tough" on crime approach and reckless disregard for the rule of law as embodied in Arizona and the US. Constitution, to an extent, which open warfare has erupted among elected officials and the judiciary vi-a-vis, the Sheriff.  Instead of reaching out to the other elected officials, Arpaio utilizing the office of the County Attorney, (who is the prosecutor, Andrew Thomas) began obtaining indictments of local officials and recently has taken to bringing federal racketeering lawsuits against County officials.    Think about this, this is sort of like suing your co-workers while claiming you can still provide services to them anf with for your clients--not real easy to do.  Thomas contends that he can sue his co-workers, prosecute his co-workers and still somehow provide services to the citizens of Maricopa County that they hired him to do.

Funny twist on this, this isn't the first time Mr. Thomas prviously obtained indictments against this very county official, Mrs. Mary Rose Wilcox.  In classic prosecutorial overkill he indicted Mrs.Wilcox on multiple, multiple counts accusing her in every variation on a theme of fraud, of false this-false that...for allegedly voting on matters that impacted an Hispanic advocacy organization to which Mrs. Wilcox or her husband was obligated to on loans.  All of these indictments agasint Mrs. Wilcox, and one other county official were dismissed by a Superior Court Judge outside of Maricopa County.  This wasn't what Arapaio wanted, he wanted the heads of these two county officials, so Thomas sought a second prosecution.  Originally, the case files were given to an out of county prosecutor Yavapai County prosecutor Sheila Polk she told Thomas that her review and investigation of the allegations against Mrs. Wilcox revealed no evidence of a crime.  Thomas demanded the files be returned and he went off and obtained a boatload of new indictments against Wilcox et al.  Prosecuor Polk fearing a miscarriage of justice courageously spoke up, penning an op-ed for the Arizona Republic.   Prosecutor Polk also testified, yesterday at the hearing seeking to disqualify County attorney Thomas from further prosecutorial involvement in these matters.  Polk said under oath that the Maricopa County Sheriff's department threatened her if she went public.  Does any of this scare you?  It should. 

Remember, the person not in the courtroom is the driving force behind all of it, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America's "toughest sheriff." The link is to the short video excerpts of the hearing.  You can see the witnesses for yourself including Andrew Thomas. 

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