We're beginning to sound like a broken record, but here's the latest from Maricopa County Superior Court: Sheriff Joe Arpaio has lost another lawsuit.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig today summarily dismissed Arpaio's suit against the agency that provides healthcare in the county jail system. Arpaio had filed the lawsuit last September alleging that the system was mismanaged and that he should be allowed to take it over. (Because, you know, the sheriff has such a record of good management...)
Oberbillig's ruling, which he announced to the parties involved after oral arguments this afternoon, was a "judgment on the pleadings" -- meaning the judge was able to toss out the suit without any information other than the sheriff's complaint and the county's response.
Which, of course, means less cost to us taxpayers. Yay!
That doesn't mean it wasn't a huge waste of money. The judge's quick decision, says Wade Swanson, the county's general counsel, means that legal fees will run to "tens of thousands of dollars instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars." But hey... considering what this stuff usually costs, we'll take it.
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A little background: The jail system lost its accreditation in 2008, and when the county reapplied, it attempted to keep Arpaio out of the process -- leading Chief Deputy David Hendershott to bellow about the county "had no authority to do this" (per this Republic story) and eventually, this very lawsuit.
Thanks to Judge Overbillig, however, we now know that Hendershott was sadly mistaken: the county apparently had precisely that authority. Only now it's got a ruling to back it up.
In the litigation, the county was represented by Jorge Franco, and the sheriff was represented by his favorite lawyers at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, and Stewart, a firm that specializes in labor law but that Arpaio chose to use for all sorts of lawsuits last year.
"Now that [Maricopa Attorney] Andrew Thomas has resigned, it appears that all the sheriff needs to do is fire the attorneys at Ogletree Deakins, and he could hopefully get some better legal advice," Swanson told New Times. Damn!