Joel Fox is a now a former captain of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, having been fired last month by the same sheriff who apparently benefited from Fox's campaign hijinks.
But Fox's experiences of the last three years in trying to dig himself out from the mess his bosses created may have inadvertently gotten him started on a new career -- as a lawyer.
He represented himself on charges of violating election rules, though was unsuccessful in convincing anyone of his legal theories. Fox was forced, upon threat of a $315,000 fine, to reveal the donors behind a secret political action committee that funded a pro-Sheriff Arpaio ad. Observers suspected he'd had the help of one or more lawyers in preparing the legal filings in that case, though Fox claimed he did everything on his own.
He's supposedly working as his own lawyer again, this time in federal lawsuits against Cox Communications and former state Attorney General Terry Goddard. He filed the complaints the day after New Times published excerpts of e-mails reviewed by state criminal investigators.
The e-mails not only contained evidence that investigators believe help show that a crime occurred, but also revealed how much Fox loved his supervisor, former deputy chief Larry Black, who had helped orchestrate the campaign scam.
Arpaio fired Black and Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott in May, partly -- and ironically, considering that Arpaio was probably knowledgeable of their deeds -- due to their roles in the scheme. (Arpaio later let his two aides resign in shame.)
Fox has already lost one of the new lawsuits: U.S. District Judge Neil Wake ruled that former state Attorney General Terry Goddard and his investigators properly served the search warrant that uncovered the e-mails.
Cox Communications wants Wake to dismiss Fox's lawsuit against the company for the same reasons. In his reply to Cox's motion to dismiss, Fox filed a legal paper that could have been written by F. Lee Bailey. Fox's writing voice, which we and many of our readers have come to know due to Fox's frequent comment-posting, is nowhere to be found.
The filing contains plenty of legal-case references and succinct writing. He throws out phrases like "collateral estoppel" like they were second nature. Either this guy has been spending his newly found free time (more than a year on paid administrative leave!) in a law library, or he's getting lots of help.
Ed Moriarity, the Montana lawyer who represented former prosecutor Lisa Aubuchon for free in the recently concluded State Bar disciplinary hearings, is working as the lawyer for Fox, Black and Hendershott in a legal claim against Maricopa County. Maybe Moriarity's representing this disgraced trio in the claim, and maybe he's throwing a "pro bono" to Fox for the Cox suit, too.
Either way, considering his record of failure in various legal arenas, Fox may qualify for an honorary degree from the Law School of Hard Knocks.
Read Fox's latest filing below:
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We'll give you an update on this case when the judge rules on Fox's motion.