The federal racketeering lawsuit filed last week by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio has "fatal defects" and should be dismissed, argue high-profile lawyers named in the suit.
The evidence-light racketeering lawsuit claims the Board of Supervisors, top judges and two local lawyers conspired to obstruct justice and hinder a criminal investigation into a planned court building. Yesterday, the lawyers for the lawyers fired off a colorful motion to dismiss that starts with a McCarthy-era quote: "Have you no decency, sir, at long last?" (Mary Rose Wilcox's attorney, Colin Campbell, used the same line in a news conference yesterday).
The motion by attorneys for the Quarles and Brady law firm states that the claims against lawyers Tom Irvine, Ed Novak the Polsinelli Shughart law firm are not only groundless, but that the lawsuit itself is flawed.
The lawyers' lawyers argue that Thomas fails to meet the proper legal standard for a RICO lawsuit for several reasons:
*It contains insufficient evidence or facts related to the suspected conspiracy. The lawsuit merely states theorized conclusions and "does not come close to stating a 'plausible' RICO claim..." The motion also states that no effort was made to state facts "which plausibly demonstrate" the lawyers committed bribery and extortion, as the lawsuit alleges.
*Thomas and Arpaio lack legal standing to bring a RICO claim because they suffered no injury from the alleged conspiratorial acts -- and don't even allege to have suffered "concrete, personal injury," as RICO statutes require. The lawyers say Thomas should have known he had no standing here because he "was recently schooled" by a federal judge on the same issue in his failed attempts to halt Spanish-language DUI courts.
*Thomas and Arpaio haven't alleged a "business or property injury" from the racketeering enterprise, as the law requires.
*The complex federal RICO laws require Thomas and Arpaio to state how the "acquisition and maintenance" of the racketeering organization has caused them injury, in addition to the injuries they also received from the organization itself. The plaintiffs don't allege such injury.
*Thomas and Arpaio's allegation of an illegal "enterprise" is too thin: "...Plaintiffs provide nothing more than a vague and conclusory allegation of the enterprise..."
The lawyers want the racketeering lawsuit dismissed "with prejudice" so it can't be brought up again.
In sum, the lawyers wrote, the lawsuit "is riddled with fatal defects. (Thomas and Arpaio) appear to have devoted far more thought and attention to the press release they issued when they filed this action than they did to their pleading."
They end by speculating that the RICO lawsuit's launch on December 1 was designed to force one of the defendants, Judge Gary Donahoe, to cancel a planned hearing on Thomas' "ongoing conflict of interest."
As you'll recall, Donahoe didn't cancel that hearing after he was named as a "conspirator" in the racketeering lawsuit.
But Donahoe did cancel it a week later, after he was hit with a criminal complaint by Thomas.
We're looking forward to Thomas' response to this motion. Whether he tries to BS his way through these arguments or finally provides real evidence of crimes, it should be interesting.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.