New Times and two of its writers have sued Maricopa County and a special deputy county attorney in U.S. District Court, asking the judge to enjoin the defendants from violating the newspaper's constitutional rights.

As previously reported in these pages, New Times has been threatened with criminal prosecution for a felony crime because the newspaper published the home address of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2004 (see "Joe Strikes Back," December 21, 2006).

Phoenix lawyer Dennis Wilenchik was appointed by Maricopa County on July 11, 2007, to be the special deputy county attorney for this prosecution (see "Below the Belt," September 20).

The threats of criminal prosecution have intensified in recent weeks.

As a result, Phoenix New Times LLC and reporters Paul Rubin and John Dougherty engaged lawyers, and a complaint was filed in federal court on October 5.

The complaint alleges that the newspaper and its reporters are suffering a "deprivation of their First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution." It alleges that the state criminal law being used by the special deputy county attorney to threaten felony prosecution (ARS Section 13-2401) "is invalid and unconstitutional because it violates the guarantees of free speech and free press under the First Amendment."

The lawsuit seeks a judgment from the court "declaring and determining that [the law] is unconstitutional and unenforceable" and seeks an injunction prohibiting authorities "from using investigative procedures and compulsion to investigate" or prosecute New Times and its writers and editors.

New Times, Dougherty, and Rubin are represented by Tom Henze of Gallager & Kennedy in Phoenix and Michael Meehan of Munger Chadwick in Tucson.

New Times cofounder and Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey remarked, "It is extraordinary and unprecedented for a newspaper to find itself subject to criminal legal attacks for the publication of newsworthy, true facts about such a publicity-seeking, controversial elected official as Joe Arpaio. New Times has no choice but to vigorously defend its constitutional free-speech rights against those in the government who seek to abuse their power."

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3 comments
Mr no name
Mr no name

Who are these guys who are suing ? These aren�t the two guys thrown in jail correct ? Why aren�t THEY suing ?

Oldphart
Oldphart

To the staff of the Phoenix New Times....it is refreshing to see that honor in reporting is still a virtue. Standing up to corruption is tough and risks so much more than everyone imagines. I applaud all of you for the excellent work, leadership, and inspiration you provide in times when the Telco's are greedily complying with G.W.'s totalitarian plans. Those corrupt individuals you were up against remind me of scattering cockroaches scurrying away to hide when the lights have been turned on.The world is watching. You understand national pride. They need signs that the US still has good people and not everyone follows in the steps of our politicians.

Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson

It is both hilarious and fascinating how a third-rate, lunatic windbag fraudlike Joe Arpaio draws obsessive "lines in the sand" when it comesto his maniacal pursuit of publicity.

He's guilty of any number of mad, gutless felonies himself--includingVAST amounts of false imprison, of one of which I myself was the victim--andyet this pathetic fascist con man DARES to impinge the rights of hisbetters, simply for telling the truth.

Then, again, it's about what one would expect.

Joe belongs in prison, forever.

 
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