What outlandish legal maneuver will the Wily Wilenchik pull next?
The presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, Judge Barbara "Badass" Mundell has shot down an unprecedented bit of legal subterfuge by County Attorney Candy "Babyface" Thomas and his well-paid henchman, Demon Dog Dennis "the Menace" Wilenchik. Candy and Wilenchik wanted to block ALL of the 93 blackrobes on the Superior Court from the 10.1 hearing they sought, alleging all of these judges had it in for 'em. (Note: A "10.1" is a motion to disqualify a judge for bias or prejudice.) They wanted to take the hearing out-of-county, probably to some podunk place where they could do their dastardly law-work far from the prying eyes of PHX media.
But Barbara "Badass" Mundell was havin' none of it. She ran them varmints out of her court with the ruling below, treatin' the gruesome twosome like the Earps' treated the Clantons and the McLaurys at the O.K. Corral. Here's one of her three denials in response to three of the cases cited in the Wilenchik-Candy motion, the one dealing with counsel Robert McWhirter's client Ramon Perez-Ortiz:
Counsel for the State has filed a Motion for Appointment of Out-of-County Judge to decide a Rule 10.1 Motion for Change of Judge in Cause Number CR2007-134338-08DT. Essentially he requests a blanket disqualification of all 93 Judges of the Superior Court in Maricopa County eligible to hear his motion.
The Code of Judicial Conduct requires an individual judge to recuse himself or herself if the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge of the disputed evidentiary facts concerning a proceeding. Canon 3, Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct. Judges are presumed to be impartial and can be disqualified only if the party objecting proves bias and prejudice by a preponderance of the evidence. State v. Smith, 203 Ariz., 75, 79, 50 P.3d 825, 829 (2002). Each of the Judges of the Superior Court in Maricopa County was independently appointed to the bench and has a sworn duty to follow the Code of Judicial Conduct.
This Court has the option of requesting the assistance of out-of-county judges when the Code of Judicial Conduct requires a matter be heard by a judge from another county. Transferring a case to another county generally causes some delay in resolution of matters. This court has the obligation to ensure speedy resolution of matters for victims as well as defendants. See Arizona Constitution, article 2, §§ 2.1(10), 24. Before imposing on the resources of the courts, taxpayers and litigants of another county, and causing delay for the victims and defendants in the cases involved, the Court believes that such a request must be proven necessary.
Because the underlying Rule 10.1 Motion for Change of Judge actually requests a blanket disqualification of Judge Timothy Ryan in all cases assigned to him, sending the case to another county would result in unnecessary delay for the many victims, witnesses and defendants in all of those cases. The Motion for Change of Judge should be transferred out of county only when it is shown that no Judge in Maricopa County can ethically handle the matter.
Because the Motion for Appointment of Out-of-County Judge states no facts to establish bias or prejudice of any, and certainly not all, of the 93 Judges of the Superior Court of Maricopa County eligible to hear his motion,
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED denying the Motion.
Court PIO Karen Arra tells me the 10.1 hearing will be rescheduled, and so the war between Candy Thomas and Maricopa County's judiciary continues. In the October 5 issue of the Arizona Capitol Times, Candy's spokesman Barnett Lottstein's quoted as stating, "We are not alleging in any way that the whole Superior Court is biased against our office." And if you believe that mess of spoilt grits, I'll let you be the first one to cross my brand new invisible bridge over the Grand Canyon: Free of charge, and you can bring the kids!
To see the ruling, check out this link to the Superior Court Web site, and click on Court Rulings.
For background on how this legal battle ensued and what's happened so far, peep the Feathered Bastard's previous entries on this matter: