Maricopa County Ordered to Pay $1.3 Million in Legal Fees; Jail Inmates Won Lawsuit for Better Conditions

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake ordered Maricopa County to pay more than $1.3 million in legal fees after losing a lawsuit over bad jail conditions, says a paragraph in the Arizona Republic yesterday.

The amount is what lawyers in the project sought following a legal fight that had dragged on for three decades, (though the amount was based on the legal bill of the last four years). In October, Judge Wake found the county jail and correction health services were unconstitutional due to their filthy, dangerous conditions.

Oddly, the Republic doesn't have the story up on its Web site. And considering the amount of the county's payment, the newspaper sort of underplayed the two-sentence article by reporter J.J. Hensley, tucking it in a bottom corner of the front page of its "B" section.

While just an epilogue, this ruling hammers home the point that the county should have spending its time and money cleaning up the jail system rather than fighting to keep overflowing toilets and to deny proper medications to inmates.


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.