Joel Fox Files Federal Lawsuit Vs. Goddard and Cox Communications Over Release of "Zorro" E-Mails

Joel Fox filed two federal lawsuits this week in apparent response to New Times' publication of love letters between him and his boss at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Larry Black.

The first lawsuit targets former state Attorney General Terry Goddard and three employees of the AG's office; the second, Cox Communications. Fox argues that a search warrant served on Cox Communications as part of the SCA investigation was only good for one e-mail account. Instead, Cox released the contents of four e-mail accounts, including one created as [email protected]

It was under the "Zorro" account that investigators found letters in which the two middle-aged men professed deep love for each other. Fox, who clearly enjoys a warm keyboard, wrote hundreds of words to his boss about his feelings. There's mention of happy hours alone in a Los Angeles hotel room on a stormy night; the pair also bonded (emotionally, anyway) during their roadtrip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Black denied the relationship was homosexual when asked about the e-mails by curious SCA investigators.

Besides Goddard, the lawsuit names the lead investigator of the SCA case, Mike Edwards, Donald Conrad, chief counsel for the AG's criminal division and Todd Lawson, and assistant attorney general.

Portions of the Zorro e-mails have been published online, in print, and on TV, Fox writes. "Had it not been for the callous and careless actions" of the state investigators, the e-mails would never have been available for public display, Fox states.

The defendants' "shocking behavior has caused serious damage to Plaintiff Joel Fox and his family," the lawsuit says.

He also seeks the return of two of his personal computers, which the state apparently still possesses.

In the Cox case, Fox argues that the communications company exceeded the authority of the search warrant when it handed over all of his e-mails to the state.

In Fox's mind, the whole SCA case was a politically motivated witch-hunt, cooked up by the Democratic Party and its sympathizers. He's seeking punitive and other damages.

Actually, Edwards' case is compelling on a number of fronts and presents strong evidence of a conspiracy between sheriff's deputies and state Republican Party leaders.

Fox and Black, whom he calls the most important person in his life in the letters, remain on paid administrative leave as a wide-ranging internal investigation goes on. Fox also filed a $5 million claim against the county last month.

You can read the longer of Fox's two lawsuits below:

fox lawsuit 1

UPDATE: For those who are interested, Fox vs. Cox lawsuit:

joel fox zorro 2

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.