Last year, prosecutors working for Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas angrily accused Superior Court Judge Timothy Ryan of "a persistent pattern of conduct that indicates bias and prejudice" against his office -- and demanded that he be removed from all criminal cases.
That attempt failed.
Yesterday, the office impugned the judge again, this time telling reporters at multiple Valley news outlets that Judge Ryan had sentenced a high school coach, guilty of sexual conduct with a minor, to just one weekend in jail -- even though prosecutors had asked for more time.
Problem is, the allegation simply isn't true.
According to video footage from Judge Ryan's courtroom, which can be viewed after the jump, Deputy County Attorney Lisa Andrus clearly asks that Susan Jayne Anderson, the kinky coach, be sentenced to one weekend in jail, plus lifetime probation.
That's exactly the sentence that Judge Ryan then handed down.
So the judge did exactly what the prosecutors asked -- yet the spokesman for the County Attorney's Office, Mike Anthony Scerbo, said this to the West Valley View: "The judge had total discretion of the sentencing. We did ask for more jail time than that."
This doesn't seem to be an error on the part of the West Valley View; the Republic's coverage of the matter contains a similar statement, albeit paraphrased.
Anderson, 29, was accused of kissing and sending text messages to a 16-year-old female student. The relationship apparently came to light when the girl's family found suspicious material on her myspace page.
Here's what Deputy County Attorney Andrus told Judge Ryan at Anderson's sentencing hearing: "We would ask that you sentence Miss Anderson to probation. I know the family wants no less than lifetime. ... We would also ask for initial jail time. Not a lot of jail time -- enough to make a point. Enough time not to punish her, but to make her understand how serious probation is."
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So why did Scerbo blame Judge Ryan for going against his office's wishes? Two guesses: Either this office will say anything that's politically expedient, what with Andrew Thomas trying to mount a run for attorney general and all, or it just really, really hates Judge Ryan.
Maybe a little bit of both?