Saying that attorneys for Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas made a procedural error, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow rejected the "amended complaint" they attempted to file last week in their racketeering lawsuit against county officials.
While that ruling has nothing to do with the merits of the case, it could spell big trouble for Thomas.
The reason? Timing. Attorneys for Thomas will now have to defend their original complaint against motions to dismiss from numerous attorneys. And they don't have long to do it.
Filing an amended complaint would have allowed Thomas' lawyers on this case to present a more polished case -- and it would have also bought them some time.
As we've reported, Thomas' hatchet woman, Lisa Aubuchon, originally filed the racketeering suit in federal court on December 1, alleging that a host of judges, county supervisors, and their attorneys are part of a "criminal enterprise." Yeah, it sounds serious, but trust us: Aubuchon never offered evidence of anything other than the fact these officials and their attorneys have occasionally opposed Andrew Thomas.
Considering the prominence of those being accused of "racketeers," it should have come as a surprise to no one that they immediately hired really good lawyers -- and that those really good lawyers immediately pointed out some serious defects with Aubuchon's badly written complaint.
At that point, Aubuchon was replaced on the case by another deputy county attorney, Rachel Alexander. And, as we understand it, Alexander had two options: She could have filed an amended complaint within 21 days of getting the motions to dismiss, or she could have requested that the court give her extra time.
Apparently, according to Judge Snow's order, she did neither.
Instead, she attempted to file an amended complaint on January 14 -- which, by our estimation, was a full week late. And, it appears that Judge Snow is not in a lenient mood when it comes to deadlines.
In his order, issued Wednesday, Judge Snow wrote that unless all the parties in the case agree to let Alexander file the amended complaint late, it's out.
Alexander is now asking him to change his mind and let the amended complaint in. In a motion filed yesterday, she claims that she believed the clock began to running on December 29, when the judge issued an order on the motions to dismiss -- and not December 18, when the motions to dismiss were actually filed.
She also argues that the amended complaint should be let in for a host of other reasons, most of them too dull to get into here. But she did offer one hilarious statement.
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SHOW ME HOW
"Even a cursory read of the proposed amended complaint," she writes, "will reveal that [Andrew Thomas' claims against the alleged racketeers] are not frivolous and are brought in good faith to combat widespread corruption."
Seriously, Rachel? We gave this thing a read that was far from cursory. And all we could find was pure frivolousness.
We'll see what transpires next. But our guess is that Thomas/ Alexander are going to have to deal with the very substantive concerns raised by the lawyers for the alleged "criminal enterprise" -- which could mean that this case is in serious trouble.
We'll keep you posted ...