Barbara Mundell will step down as presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court this summer, but it has nothing to do with being deemed a criminal conspirator by our local sheriff and county attorney.
Mundell took the five-year post on July 1, 2005, so her time will soon be up, says Jennifer Liewer, spokeswoman for the Arizona Supreme Court. Rebecca Berch White, the state's Chief Justice, decided to replace Mundell with Norman J. Davis. He's been with the court since 1995 and now serves as its associate presiding judge and presiding judge of the juvenile division.
We asked Liewer if Davis was part of the conspiracy alleged by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas. She says he wasn't named in their federal racketeering lawsuit.
Let's help the lawmen out. Is there anything about Davis that could lead Arpaio and Thomas to suspect he's part of this alleged evil cabal?
*Davis works with Mundell and may often talk with her.
*Davis was appointed by Berch, who recently appointed lawyer Ed Novak (named as a conspirator) to the Supreme Court's Committee on Character and Fitness.
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*The planned court tower, one of the lawsuit's lynchpins, is planned to open in 2012, two years after Davis becomes presiding judge. Anonymous critics call the $340 million project the "Taj Majal," and the lawsuit mentions that plans once included marble and travertine. Davis may have known he had a good chance at being the new king of the castle. If Thomas and Arpaio believe one motive of Mundell and Judge Gary Donahoe (another alleged conspirator) is to work in the lap of luxury, wouldn't the upcoming presiding judge share that motive?
We asked Barnett Lotstein about our guesswork here, (which we offer cheekily, but with the knowledge that Davis damned well could be named as a conspirator. Last week, we learned that the Yavapai and Pinal county attorneys are now thought by Thomas' office to be part of an "orchestrated campaign" against Thomas.
Asked if Davis was a suspected conspirator, Lotstein replies, "I have never heard a word spoken about -- what was his name?"
Maybe Davis isn't on Thomas' radar now. Give him time.