Power Play

County law enforcement's attack on the judiciary didn't work, but the war's far from over

Turoff is a longtime Republican activist whose name recently hit the news when she served as a behind-the-scenes messenger for Dennis Wilenchik with presiding criminal Superior Court Judge Anna Baca during the New Times case.

Judge Baca later stated in court that Wilenchik's attempt through Turoff to communicate privately with her had been improper and heavy-handed, an analysis with which the attorney mightily disagreed. At the time, the judge was poised to rule on key legal motions in the battle to get the paper to turn over staff files and e-mails, plus records of the Internet viewing habits of readers.

Wilenchik later claimed he had tried to set up the secret meeting so that there could be a let's-give-peace-a-chance moment between Thomas' office and the Superior Court, not to unethically sway the judge in his volatile battle with New Times.

Judge Warren Granville is the subject of repeated official complaints by the county attorney.
Judge Warren Granville is the subject of repeated official complaints by the county attorney.

Earlier this year, a Virginia man wrote on Rachel Alexander's Web site: "Judges increasingly act as if the rule of law means people must obey whatever drools down the lips of any social engineer who is cloaked in a black robe . . . The Delphic voice of the gods behind the judicial curtain is actually a bunch of guys and gals who have fooled us."

Andrew Thomas' point of view couldn't have been stated better by the county attorney himself. So, when Thomas gave his handpicked attorney Wilenchik the green light to attack Tim Ryan, the war between him and the judiciary escalated hugely.

Proposition 100 became law on January 1 after overwhelmingly winning voter approval in the November 2006 election.

As with many other ballot propositions and legislatively enacted statutes, its implementation suffered growing pains.

The troubles were systemic: Courts now were compelled to hold special hearings to determine whether criminal defendants could be held without bail as illegal immigrants under the provisions of Prop 100.

Those hearings required the allocation of new resources, financial and otherwise, from everyone involved, including the courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys and police officers.

For its part, the County Attorney's Office transferred several senior civil attorneys to the Initial Appearance Court to handle the dozens of Prop 100 hearings that sprang up after the new law took effect.

Thomas, who had championed the proposition and other anti-illegal immigration measures, claimed that Prop 100 removed all discretion from Arizona judges in determining bail eligibility of suspected undocumented defendants charged with specified serious felonies.

But the county attorney was wrong.

The language of the new law ordered judges to detain defendants without bond in those specified felony cases "if the person charged has entered or remained in the U.S. illegally and if the proof is evident or the presumption great as to the present charge."

That wording would prove problematic.

Prop 100 hadn't specified what "proof evident/presumption great" meant, other than to imply it was roughly the same as "clear and convincing."

Legal scholars usually explain clear and convincing as resting somewhere between reasonable doubt (the standard in criminal cases) and preponderance of the evidence, which is 51 percent burden of proof in civil cases.

It was tricky stuff. Questions soon arose in courts statewide about what prosecutors had to do to prove with about 75 percent certainty that a criminal defendant was here illegally.

"We're in an adversarial system, not an inquisitorial system, as most of Europe is in," explains state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor. "The judge can't just go out and gather evidence. A judge depends on evidence being brought to him or her to make decisions. If it's not brought by the prosecution or the defense bar, you have to base your decision on the record that's before you."

Many Americans may not realize that undocumented immigrants have the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens. (The only legal rights U.S. citizens have that non-citizens don't are the right to vote and the right to serve on a jury.)

In Maricopa County, experienced Initial Appearance Court commissioners were concerned that the right to protect one's self against self-incrimination could be jeopardized if they asked defendants whether they were in this country illegally.

Though some Prop 100 defendants were held without bond from the start, others were released on bail or on their own recognizance, which Andrew Thomas and his people seized upon as a political gold mine.

Then, in late March, Thomas found what he believed was a horror story, the release and deportation to Mexico of a violent felony suspect who returned to Mesa and allegedly stabbed his cousin to death.


Upon further review, the suspect had been released not because of a bad judge, but because prosecutors didn't hold a preliminary hearing or indict the guy within the 10-day legal limit.

Still, Thomas repeated that this case was proof positive that the county's judges and commissioners held personal agendas against Prop 100.

Presiding county Judge Mundell tried to counter the rising public storm against the courts, writing, "Proposition 100 is being used as a weapon — not to hold proven illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes without bond — but as a political attack on Superior Court judges and commissioners."

She accused Thomas of using "half-truths and manipulated data as the basis of his accusations."

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9 comments
Thomas Trottier
Thomas Trottier

Elizabeth Cottor is a Snake as you can tell by her evil scowl and Shark like facial features. My son was prosecuted by her and she would not so much as even let him speak. If only he could explain at 17 what he had done when he was 16. But since he was prosecuted as an adult, and at that age the court system seems very intimidating, but a fair trial would have saved him 2 years of his life. For an auto accident where a unlicensed drug-taking uninsured driver was actually at fault. Her ethics are indeed tainted by her association with Andrew Thomas and his bottom feeder ethics. I am glad that she will never see her dream of becoming a Judge come true, I prayed faithfully for God to stop her. Prayer works!

JA Moran
JA Moran

maricopa county, and the state of Arizona need political and justice officials that will seek to be "reasonable and fair" that is true justice. Don't use one's position to try and squash your political opponents. The Maricopa County Attorney and Sheriff use any opportunity to get their face infront of a camera and make their point. They should stick to doing their jobs, be "reasonable and be fair", not going after people who disagree with them. We are supposed to be a democracy and in a democratic society people should be free to voice their disagreements. Also you should be free to publish the truth as the facts support, not as some political officials want. Do I need to remind people what happened to the guy who played "Joe Arizona" in political ads and what another person named Joe did to him because he made this other "Joe" look bad ??

J.

Leonard Clark
Leonard Clark

Please, if you feel that these two fascist thugs should be stopped legally, constitutionally and non-violently help us with the recall. We have filed official recall papers and even after the deadline is over for this recallif we are not successful the first time we are going to hound these two criminal and unconstitutional thugs with another legal and constitutional recall.

Please, help us and help Arizona, we are not associated with any politician or political group we are only associated with the U.S. Constitution.Leonard Clark623-206-2039 email: leonardclark385@hotmail.com arizonarecall.comChair of the Arizonans for the U.S. Constitution and recall of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas

TreasurerWilliam Crum602-300-8851

Annalisa Alvrus
Annalisa Alvrus

So, judges are NOT political? Judges NEVER make the wrong decisions? Judges NEVER make rulings based on political or personal biases? Judges ALWAYS make rulings pursuant to the law? Should we not expect all three branches of government to constantly check the other branches? Isn't that what our government is supposed to be doing? I usually really, really like Paul Rubin's articles, but I don't care for the pro-judiciary slant in this article. The judges are placed on the bench by the governor, and even though we "vote" to "retain" them, we get very little information about whether they really rule according to the law. And the judicial oversight commission mentioned in the article almost NEVER disciplines a superior court judge. Are all 95+ of them really such perfect employees of the citizenry? Seems awfully hard to believe.

Tony Dogs
Tony Dogs

They really need to disbar this clown. He's a disgrace.

Jim Cozzolino
Jim Cozzolino

Arpaio and Thomas, Reincarnated Hitler's.Scary.....

anon
anon

That's what many lawyers / judges do to deceive the public. Wolves in sheeps' clothing.

anon
anon

AA, Well said! Definitely agree with you. Look at the Bios of these judges on the Court roster -- wonder what the qualifications are to even be a judge, many of the resumes are slim to none.

 
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