The top judge at the Maricopa County Superior Court took a strong stance against four judicial complaints filed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's chief deputy, calling them "false, frivolous and slanderous."
Here's the entire statement released this morning by Presiding Judge Barbara Mundell (pictured at left):
None of the judges have received copies of the judicial conduct complaints filed by Chief Deputy Sheriff David Hendershott and have only read about these allegations in news reports. Recently, two of these complaints were posted on a media website.
The allegations are false, frivolous and slanderous. This is the latest attempt to intimidate the judiciary and interfere with the fair, impartial and timely administration of justice. This attempt will fail. The bench of the Maricopa County Superior Court will continue to provide access to the courts, decide cases based upon the law and not politics, protect the rights of victims and defendants and ensure public safety.
Click here to see our post from yesterday morning about the complaints, which includes links to all four letters by Hendershott.
Mundell told the media in May that Sheriff's Office vehicles had been spotted near her home in an apparent attempt to intimidate her. In an interview with Joe Dana of Channel 12 News, (KPNX-TV), Mundell said,
We certainly don't have the luxury of squandering resources for criminalizing disagreements. We can't take out our grudges or our issues that we might have with someone else on a personal level, we don't have the luxury to do that, of using our taxpayer resources.
The Sheriff's Office told Channel 12 that allegations of staking out Mundell's home were "ludicrous, irresponsible, and most concerning, unethical." Considering that the Sheriff's Office has been investigating Mundell for supposed criminal acts related to the planned $347 million court tower, the agency's claim that it's "ludicrous" to suppose it might have staked out Mundell's home is, itself, ludicrous. Clearly, it's well within the realm of possibility.
The Sheriff's Office also said in the May interview that Mundell was trying to "defuse" the judicial-conduct complaints she supposedly knew Hendershott would file.
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The complaints were filed on November 30. A few days later, Arpaio and County Attorney Thomas announced that they had filed a federal racketeering lawsuit, accusing Mundell, other top judges, the Board of Supervisors, and a private law firm of engaging in a conspiracy to enrich the law firm, build the court tower and protect the cabal of county leaders involved.
One of the judges named in a judicial complaint and in the lawsuit is the criminal division's boss, Gary Donahoe, who's in the middle of the flap over a detention officer ordered to jail this week for contempt of court. Arpaio says Donahoe is carrying out a vendetta and using the officer, who swiped documents from a defense attorney's file during a court hearing, as a pawn. But keep in mind that the fight between the judiciary, the sheriff, and the county attorney started long before this latest squabble.