Maricopa County Craziness

Andrew Thomas, Joe Arpaio Dismiss RICO Claim Against County Officials -- Ask Justice Department to Investigate Instead

This just in: Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have dismissed the lawsuit that accused county officials, judges, and their lawyers of being part of a "criminal enterprise."

The suit -- which the duo filed in December -- spared no detail in exploring Thomas' allegations that the Board of Supervisors, county judges, and their shared legal counsel at Polsinelli Shughart were racketeers, working to thwart criminal investigations into the county's new court tower and ultimately deprive Thomas of his law license.

Many legal observers found it laughable. And, indeed, after a phalanx of the Valley's top lawyers filed responses for which Thomas seemed to have no answer, the suit was in serious danger of getting thrown out by the judge on the case.

In what appears to be a last-ditch attempt to save face, Thomas and Arpaio instead voluntarily dismissed the suit with a filing in federal court earlier this hour.

In their brief, one-page letter dismissing the suit, Thomas and Arpaio's lawyers say they've referred the matters in the lawsuit to the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section. Seriously. We can only imagine that the lawyers at Justice are dying to probe such matters as The Day That County Lawyers Laughed at Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon and The Threat that Thomas' Wife Might Have to Foot the Bill for His Frivolous Litigation. 'Cause, you know, this is some major, major corruption here -- a metaphor for everything that's wrong in Maricopa County!

Thomas and Arpaio have scheduled a press conference this afternoon. We suspect they'll be spinning madly, trying to explain why the centerpiece of their yearlong fight against county officials is now being sent to a federal agency they once deplored as biased.

Could it be that they have no other way to dispose of this piece-of-crap lawsuit gracefully? Could it be that Arpaio's expensive D.C. attorneys, who came to this litigation late in the game, advised him to jettison it and cooler heads finally prevailed -- now that Arpaio and Thomas have had their collective asses kicked in superior court?

: New Times' Ray Stern was at the press conference and has a perceptive take on all the madness at this link. For those of you wondering about Robert Driscoll, the sheriff's attorney who supposedly convinced the Justice Department to take a look, we've been unsuccessful for months in getting his billing rate, but we put in another public records this morning in hopes of getting you the info.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske