County's Lawyer Ordered County Attorney Not to Contact Board of Supervisors Directly

It seems there's a good reason for why Maricopa County Andrew Thomas won't return County Supervisor Max Wilson's phone call:

Wilson's attorney ordered him not to.

As we reported yesterday, Wilson wrote to Thomas yesterday that he was surprised greatly to read an explanation by Barnett Lotstein, one of Thomas' special assistants, for the unreturned calls. Lotstein had told the Board of Supervisors that its attorney had banned direct contact between the parties. But Wilson says he wasn't aware of any such a directive by the Board's attorney.

Turns out there was a directive.

"I didn't make that up," Lotstein tells us today.

In a letter today to the Board, Thomas points out that attorney Tom Irvine told him back in January not to attempt a personal meeting, and he attached Irvine's letter (see both letters below). Thomas also takes a moment to say he "must note" his disappointment in the Board and its representatives for hurling "personal attacks and insults."

In the January 28 letter, Irvine gets right to the point:

...neither you nor your clients can communicate with the Board ... without prior notice and consent of the undersigned.


He scolds Thomas for a letter to the Board by a deputy county attorney and reminds him of an ethical rule. Then he gets even more explicit:

Andrew Thomas, his deputies and anyone acting on his behalf are prohibited from directly meeting with or contacting the Board [while Thomas' lawsuit is pending]. 


Score one for Thomas. Sort of.

Asked if Thomas would call Wilson if Irvine gave the OK, Lotstein skirts the question, telling us that Thomas is interested in court-approved mediation.

Letter to Max Wilson 4-29-09[1] Letter to Max Wilson 4-29-09[1] ray stern

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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.