Legal Ethics

Ariz. Judges Defending Controversial Civil RICO Case Seemingly Win a Round


The Valley Fever Blog of the Phoenix New Times has made no secret of its negative opinion of the federal racketeering lawsuit (PDF provided by Valley Fever) filed last month by the Maricopa County, Ariz., attorney against a number of county officials, judges and their private legal counsel, on behalf of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The blog contends that the case, on its merits, is supported by a “weak conspiracy theory” and describes an amended complaint as still a “piece of crap.”

Now, however, it appears that the case may face a major procedural obstacle, the Valley Fever blog reports in a new post on the case. U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow refused last week to permit an amended complaint to proceed in the District of Arizona case, saying that it was not timely filed.

And this could be bad news for the sheriff and county attorney, since the original complaint lacks merit, improperly attempting to criminalize adverse court rulings over a controversial office tower, the blog argues in another post.

Quarles & Brady is defending Polsinelli Shughart and two of the law firm’s attorneys. It contends in a motion to dismiss (PDF provided by Valley Fever) filed last month that the original complaint in the civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations case is “riddled with fatal defects,” including a lack of standing and a failure to assert an actual criminal enterprise.

The plaintiffs, the motion continues, “appear to have devoted far more thought and attention to the press release they issued when they filed this action than they did to their pleading.”

However, the press release (which is provided in a Sonoran Alliance post) explains that the defendants, in the plaintiffs’ view, “conspired illegally to block criminal investigations and prosecutions of themselves,” with the help of judges “handpicked” in violation of standard court operating procedure.

“Federal racketeering laws allow ordinary Americans to fight local corruption,” states Thomas in the release. “There’s no better use for these laws than to make sure powerful politicians are not above the law.”

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Paper: War Over $340M Court Tower Threatens Rule of Law in Ariz. County”

ABAJournal.com: “Hundreds of Lawyers Rally to Protest County Atty in Sheriff’s Battle Against Judiciary”

ABAJournal.com: “Grand Jury Said to Be Probing Power Abuses by Ariz. Sheriff’s Office”

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