Constitutional Law

Judge Criminally Charged re Court Rulings in Battle for Control of Ariz. County

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A sitting Arizona judge has been charged with three major felonies, apparently at least partly in connection with his court rulings concerning a battle among local officials for control of Maricopa County and an ongoing dispute over the construction of a $340 million court tower.

Although news coverage is sketchy concerning the exact basis of the charges filed today against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, the Arizona Republic reports that a criminal complaint by County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio accuses Donahoe of bribery, obstruction of justice and hindering prosecution related to the judge’s conduct of his court call and recent court rulings.

Concerning the bribery charge against Donahoe, Thomas said that the judge isn’t accused of accepting any money. However, it is just as illegal to accept something of value, in exchange for an official act, with “corrupt intent,” reports ABC 15.

“Here you have a judge who shut down a court-tower investigation and the Superior Court is going to receive a $340 million court tower,” says Thomas.

Donahoe’s office says the judge isn’t commenting and doesn’t yet have a lawyer, the Associated Press reports.

Donahoe is the same judge who ordered a Maricopa County court deputy to apologize to a public defender or face jail after the deputy removed a document from the lawyer’s case file. The deputy reported to jail last week.

As a subsequent post details, observers in the legal community are questioning the validity of the prosecution of Donahoe, since the case largely concerns his rulings on his assigned cases.

Additional and related coverage: “Nearly 20 Court Deputies Call in Sick in Wake of Fellow Officer’s Jailing” “Deputy Who Took PD’s Document Is in Jail, But Is He in a Cell?”

Arizona Republic (opinion): “Who let judge’s address out of the bag?”

Phoenix News Blog (Phoenix New Times): “Andrew Thomas Offers No Evidence of Bribery in Judge Gary Donahoe Case—But Charges Him Anyway”

Sonaran News: “Grand jury indicts Maricopa County supervisors Stapley and Wilcox”

Updated on Dec. 10 to link to subsequent post.

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