Oh, the delicious irony of it all! Tomorrow morning County Attorney Candy Thomas will be forced to descend from his 8th floor offices in the county building downtown and actually appear in the Honorable Judge Roland Steinle's court to spill the legumes on why he signed off on emergency wiretaps on then-suspected Serial Shooters Sam Dieteman and Dale Hausner. Dieteman recently pleaded guilty. Hausner's currently on trial, and it's his legal beagles who want Candy on the stand.
Thomas, who has expressed his contempt for county jurists in the past, tried desperately to finagle his way out of testifying, seeking relief from the Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court. But these appeals were ultimately declined in a volley of legalese and maneuverings so snooze-inducing that I won't attempt to repeat them here. Seriously, just reading some of this wood-cutting wordage could dissuade an entire generation from seeking the law as a profession.
Thomas argues that his appearance at the hearing might actually help the defendant reverse a conviction on appeal, assuming Hausner's found guilty. Well, certainly, it might. Especially considering that Thomas could have obtained a judge's approval of the wiretap before the fact rather than after, which is how he chose to do things.
"I don't think it was legal," Hausner's attorney Ken Everett told me today. "[Thomas] approved the emergency order. And he has to explain why he did it. For the state to meet its burden, the person who made the decision has to testify."
Everett, who's a lawyer with the Office of the Legal Advocate, said that the emergency order only allows the wiretap to go on for 48 hours without a judge's approval. Before that 48 hours was up, explained Everett, his client was in custody.
"You can hear the arrest on the recordings," Everett stated.
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Afterwards, a judge did approve the emergency order. So Everett wants to know why Thomas didn't bother to get that approval beforehand. He likely could have, so why didn't he? We all know Thomas doesn't like to play by the rules, and does not believe himself accountable for his actions.
Just look at how Thomas' former boss Dennis Wilenchik, the disgraced ex-special prosecutor, tried to have ex parte communications with the judge in the New Times case. How Wilenchik subpoenaed a buttload of personal info on New Times' online readership. How Thomas and Wilenchick had New Times' founders arrested in thuggish nighttime raids. And how Thomas used county money to print hundreds of thousands of slick "crime prevention" booklets prominently featuring his mug.
By this time tomorrow, we'll at last see Thomas forced to be accountable to the court. And by this fall, perhaps we'll see him finally held accountable for his shenanigans by an enraged electorate.