Six lawyers fired by Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles are satisfied with Voyles' public "clarification" of a news release that dissed them, their lawyer says.
Michael Manning, the lawyer representing the six former Pinal prosecutors, tells New Times that his clients were "never in it for the money" -- which, he adds, they probably would have been awarded if they had decided to sue.
The six "career prosecutors" who felt defamed by Voyles are Paul Ahler, Kristy Perkins, Stacey Heard, James Heard, Neil Miller, and Susan Crawford.
In a January 31 demand letter obtained yesterday from Voyles' office, Manning told Voyles that his clients were prepared to litigate if Voyles didn't issue a public retraction and clarification of the January 2nd news release that linked the six -- indirectly -- to an embezzlement investigation.
The release was used in January news articles by the Arizona Republic and other media outlets that covered Voyles' firing of the six prosecutors and 10 other employees in Voyles' office.
Manning told Voyles in his letter that his clients' "reputations had been tarnished as a result of either reckless or intentional statements you have made in order to garner publicity."
The January 2nd news release was "defamatory," Manning went on in the letter, telling Voyles about an "easy" way to avoid a lawsuit:
A simple and public clarification is a just, inexpensive, honorable, and easy way to avoid the sure personal and public expense, discomfort, and embarrassment of distracting litigation. It was surely your legal and public right to fire, even these storied "at will" prosecutors. But it was not your right to sully their professional reputations as they were ushered out the door on New Year's Eve.
Let's resolve this mistake together, the easy way.
Voyles responded on May 24 with an email blast to local reporters in which he admitted his news release may have left a "mistaken impression," that he regretted the confusion, and that neither the six prosecutors nor any of the other attorneys he fired have ever been suspected of illegal activities.
It's unclear why Voyles took so long to respond to Manning's letter -- Voyles didn't respond to New Times' request for comment.
In any case, the issue appears resolved. Besides the article we published on Friday about the flap, SanTanValley.com published Voyles' clarification without commentary.
The prosecutors "just wanted to ensure their professional reputations were repaired," Manning says. "We hope that the press release gets as much coverage as the accusations against them."