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Money Pit: Andy Thomas’ Death-Penalty-Laden Years as Maricopa County Attorney

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For myriad reasons — most often legal "conflicts of interest" after more than one person is charged in a case — judges may have to appoint private attorneys to represent one or more defendants.

Though it is time-consuming, complex, and stressful, death-penalty defense has proved to be lucrative for those private attorneys who contract with the county to represent clients.

New Times analyzed Maricopa County's capital-case payouts to every private criminal-defense attorney since 2005, the year Andy Thomas assumed office.

Other than the Martinson attorneys, some of the truly big winners in death-penalty cases included:

• Randy Craig, who collected more than $1.3 million for his representation in separate cases of current death-row inmates Mark Goudeau and Donald Delahanty, as well as $279,000 in another case.

• Roderick Carter, who billed the county $768,000 as Craig's "second chair" in the Goudeau case alone. (The defense in that serial-murder case rested without calling any witnesses at trial.) Carter also has collected almost $800,000 in other death cases since 2006.

• Nate Carr, paid about $900,000 for his work since 2006 as the lead attorney on several capital cases.

To put those substantial sums into perspective, a county public defender handling major-felony cases makes about $100,000 annually, depending on experience and length of service.

In a justice system as dangerously dysfunctional as Maricopa County's during the Thomas administration, aberrations such as what happened in Martinson were bound to occur.

Van Dreumel, who owns the so-called "Martinson-mobile" (and also owns a good reputation at the courthouse as a tireless advocate for her clients), says this about the money:

"We got very lucky. We didn't ask for the case. Judge Ryan spoke to Mike [Terribile], and then Mike asked me to help him, and I said okay. That's it."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin