Maricopa County Craziness

Arpaio Wants Wilcox's Attorney to Answer Questions Related to Racketeering Lawsuit; Lawyer Wants "Harassing" Action Stopped

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is giving Colin Campbell, Mary Rose Wilcox's attorney, until 5 p.m. today to voluntarily talk to a deputy about issues related to a supposed criminal conspiracy among county leaders.

Campbell, former presiding judge of the Superior Court, received a letter from the Sheriff's Office yesterday, just hours after holding a news conference in which he defended Wilcox, a longtime County Supervisor, from accusations of criminal acts. The letter, (see below), tells Campbell he's "requested" to contact a deputy -- and he's supposed to do it by a deadline of 5 p.m. today.

In response, Campbell filed a court motion this morning claiming the request letter is an attempt by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas to harass him and interfere with his representation of Wilcox, and wants a judge to stop their actions immediately.

Or, "in the alternative," Campbell writes in his motion, he'd like the judge to order that depositions be taken in the matter from Arpaio, Thomas, Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon and the detective who wrote the letter, G. Almanza.

Click here

for the motion, which includes the letter to Campbell from the Sheriff's Office.

The letter to Campbell isn't a surprise. Last week during a news conference about the indictments of Wilcox and Don Stapley, Thomas said he found it "interesting" that Wilcox hired Campbell as a defense attorney, since Campbell happens to be the former presiding judge of the very Superior Court Thomas has been battling. He said he wanted deputies to question Campbell.

Deputy Almanza says in the letter he wants to ask Campbell about:

*"Any effort with the Arizona State Bar Association to file complaints against Mariopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas."

*Any discussions with the current presiding judge, Barbara Mundell, about the selection of judges -- particularly, the selection of a judge in the so-far-unsuccessful case against Don Stapley.

*Same thing as above, but regarding possible talks with retired Judge Anna Baca.

*"Any involvement/discussion with the Maricopa County Criminal Court Tower."

Campbell, who stepped down as presiding judge four years ago and retired in 2007, told us yesterday that he had been involved with the court's "20-year space plan." As part of that, he was in on some of the discussions related to the planned court tower.

The former top judge says he sees no conflict of interest in representing Wilcox on her criminal case, even though Supervisor Wilcox, the rest of the supervisors, top judges, and private lawyers are among those named in the federal racketeering lawsuit filed last week by Thomas and Arpaio.

We get the feeling that Campbell is about to be added to that list of names -- whether or not he's done anything wrong.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.