Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution

Joe Arpaio, Andy Thomas and Dennis Wilenchik hit New Times with grand jury subpoenas

Rubin's story noted that Wilenchik went well beyond merely defending the sheriff.

"Newsworthy are the extralegal machinations Wilenchik employed outside the courtroom to try to ruin Saban's life," wrote Rubin. "In recent months, Wilenchik sent virulent anti-Saban letters to several authorities, including Governor Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Buckeye Town Council, the Mesa Police Department (Saban's longtime former employer) and the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, the state police-certification agency known as POST.

"The missives are filled with malevolent innuendo and, in many instances, outright misinformation and disinformation."

The initial grand jury subpoena named New Times Media LLC.; that's us, Michael Lacey (right) and Jim Larkin. We founded Phoenix New Times in 1970 in reaction to the war in Vietnam; our newspaper company has since expanded across America. The two of us live here, our kids go to school here, and we begin every day confronting the issues of journalism here. In nearly 40 years of work, this is our first joint byline. (You see, grand juries have their positive side.)
Giulio Sciorio
The initial grand jury subpoena named New Times Media LLC.; that's us, Michael Lacey (right) and Jim Larkin. We founded Phoenix New Times in 1970 in reaction to the war in Vietnam; our newspaper company has since expanded across America. The two of us live here, our kids go to school here, and we begin every day confronting the issues of journalism here. In nearly 40 years of work, this is our first joint byline. (You see, grand juries have their positive side.)
The most outrageous part of the over-the-top New Times subpoena is this section demanding the identities of our Web site readers, plus their Internet viewing habits. See full text of the subpoena here.
The most outrageous part of the over-the-top New Times subpoena is this section demanding the identities of our Web site readers, plus their Internet viewing habits. See full text of the subpoena here.

The story goes on to detail the content of Wilenchik's letters, which have nothing to do with the defense of Sheriff Arpaio in the courtroom and everything to do with destroying Police Chief Saban.

Citing public documents, Rubin also detailed Wilenchik's employment by the county, as well as his recent hiring to pursue the investigation of New Times' putting Sheriff Arpaio's home address on the Internet. The article never mentioned the existence of the grand jury. While it recounted the nearly three-year-old controversy over Arpaio's address, it did not state the address.

Though Saban lost his quixotic suit, he told Rubin, "I still think it was very important to shine the light on this sheriff and what he and his people are capable of doing."

Twenty-four hours after this article appeared, special prosecutor Wilenchik obtained a grand jury subpoena for Paul Rubin, too.

The subpoena demanded "All document, records and files" associated with the writing and editing of this story, as well as conversations and meetings related to the publishing of it.

It is impossible to view Rubin's grand jury subpoena as anything other than what it was: an act of vengeance by Wilenchik.


Elected in 1992, Joe Arpaio, "America's toughest sheriff," drew the attention of our writers and then-columnist Tom Fitzpatrick right from the start.

Over a cup of coffee, the newly elected Sheriff asked how he might "get next to" Fitzpatrick, who had resurrected Arpaio's old nickname from when he served with the Drug Enforcement Agency: "Nickel Bag Joe," a reference to Arpaio's fondness for penny-ante busts.

In fact, neither Sheriff Arpaio — nor anyone else — could get next to Fitzpatrick.

Sheriff Arpaio had no better luck with any of our other writers.

While voters lapped up the sheriff's harsh approach to inmates in his jails — from forcing them to wear pink underwear, to feeding them oxidized, green bologna, to working them in chain gangs, to housing inmates in tents — New Times writers pointed out that the cruelty and violence in Arpaio's lockups prompted Amnesty International's first investigation in America.

And people continued to die under Arpaio's care. Crippled people, blind people, people out of their minds. Local attorney Michael Manning has collected nearly $20 million in damages from the county over inmates killed in Arpaio's custody.

When Arpaio stood yet again for election in 2004, New Times' relationship with the sheriff was 12 years old.

Sheriff Arpaio hid nearly $790,000 in cold hard cash in three real estate investments that former New Timesstaff writer John Dougherty discovered in July 2004, in the middle of a heated primary election.

Arpaio stashed an indeterminate amount of cash in another six parcels of commercial and residential real estate.

With more than a million dollars invested, how could there not be questions?

Columnist Dougherty wondered how a public servant surviving on a $78,000 sheriff's salary and a government retirement check could afford such an investment portfolio.

It was not a pointless query. In 12 years overseeing (at the time) a $140 million law enforcement empire, Arpaio had never suffered a thorough audit by the county.

Perhaps the sheriff inherited a fortune from a distant relative.

A paper trail that should have been public would have reassured voters.

But the normal public real estate records maintained by the government were not available when it came to Sheriff Arpaio.

He used an arcane statute meant to conceal home addresses of law enforcement officials to shield his investments.

Sheriff Arpaio petitioned the court and obtained an order, but rather than merely delete his home address, he removed all the information about all his commercial properties. The redacted records covered such data as deeds, mortgages, affidavits of value, and conveyances of title.

"It's because of all the death threats," Arpaio explained to Dougherty in the summer of 2004. Of course, that's what America's toughest sheriff says about most things, though it hardly explains how hiding commercial real estate transactions created safety.

During the same time the sheriff's commercial property records were hidden from the public, his home address was there for anybody interested to see on the County Recorder's, county Elections Department and the Arizona Corporation Commission Web sites. The address was also on myriad other sites on the Internet.

To underscore just how far the sheriff had perverted the law, Dougherty included Arpaio's home address, which he had learned from the other Internet sites, at the end of the second item of his column.

There is another fascinating aspect to all this. There is a second arcane Arizona law that put us at odds with Sheriff Arpaio.

That law says you cannot publish a law enforcement officer's address on the World Wide Web. Yet it is perfectly legal to publish an officer's home address in your newspaper, or on a billboard. You can broadcast that address on radio or television.

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