A Maricopa County Superior Court judge won't give his opinion to county leadership about those pricey special prosecutors County Attorney Andrew Thomas wants to hire.
In a ruling that cuts both parties down to size (but seems to ding Thomas more), Criminal Division Judge Roland Steinle refused to block Thomas from using special prosecutors during grand jury proceedings. He also declined to order the Board of Supervisors from approving the hiring of special prosecutors.
If one side does one of those things, and the other side has a problem with it, Steinle's ruling says, sue.
While the decision is interesting in itself, it's also worth noting who didn't rule on these matters: Gary Donahoe, the presiding judge of the court's criminal division. Hours before Donahoe was to have a hearing on the question of unauthorized special prosecutors giving info to a grand jury, Thomas slapped him with a criminal complaint.
Steinle, in order to come to his conclusion, had to first rule that he had no conflict of interest in the case. If you'll recall, Thomas doesn't just want a pair of high-profile lawyers from Washington D.C. to put the screws on Supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley -- he also wants them to look at the investigation into the construction of the new courthouse tower.
In rejecting Thomas' motion to voluntarily step down and transfer the issue to an out-of-county judge, Steinle writes that his only involvement in the project was to attend general briefings about it with other judges. Further, he says no one could say for sure whether or not he'll end up working in the new building by the time he retires in 2016.
Now that each side in this case has been informed that the proper remedy for their worries is to file lawsuits in civil court, the only question is will they or won't they.
That's a joke. Of course they will.
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