Joel Fox and Cox Don't Agree on Settlement in Lawsuit Over Release of "Zorro" E-mails

No settlement for now between Fox and Cox.

The communications company and Captain Joel Fox of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office attended a settlement conference on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E Aspey, but no resolution was made in Fox's lawsuit over the release of his embarrassing "Zorro" e-mails.

The Fox-Cox matter has been sent back to U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton for further proceedings.

Cox spokeswoman Andrea Katsenes says she couldn't add anything further in terms of a comment.

We're guessing that Cox put the brakes on the possible settlement after seeing how U.S. District Judge Neil Wake kicked out Fox's case -- based on similar claims -- against former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. Wake dismissed that case with prejudice after deciding, as he had in the part of Fox's lawsuit pertaining to AG's office employees, that a search warrant served against Fox's e-mail account in 2009 had been perfectly valid.

As followers of this Fox tale know, criminal investigators found e-mails Fox had written that not only provided evidence for the case of alleged campaign violations, but also expressed "love" -- a lotta love -- for his then-supervisor, former Deputy Chief Larry Black. Fox filed federal complaints against Cox, Goddard and the AG's office workers on the same day that New Times first published excerpts from the e-mails.

Black and former Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott were fired by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in May partly because of the campaign fundraising scandal. They were allowed to resign before the official termination date, (but doesn't that still mean they were fired?) Fox, meanwhile, remains on paid administrative leave while he exhausts his appeals to the county's discipline process.

We have to think Fox, who's representing himself, will soon drop the lawsuit against Cox if he believes the cable company is willing to slug it out, sort of like how former County Attorney Andrew Thomas just dropped his claims against the county and state.

But even with no love from Cox, Fox and Company still have hopes for a payday. Two weeks ago, Fox, Black and Hendershott filed a new, $22 million claim against their enemies.

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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.