Under fire, Justice of the Peace Mendoza retires

By Sarah Fenske

This just in: Carlos Mendoza is retiring.

Now, the idea of "retirement" may sound a little fishy to you. After all, Mendoza, a justice of the peace in the Downtown Justice Court, was facing charges from the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct for some pretty serious stuff: Lying under oath, challenging another judge to a fistfight outside the courthouse, and filing false financial statements.

Do ya think just maybe he was forced out?

But the stipulation filed with the Commission on Judicial Conduct last week, signed by both the hapless justice and the commission's disciplinary counsel, gives Mendoza a way to bow out gracefully.

(As gracefully as can be, following an accusation of lying under oath, that is.)

And that's because, apparently, Justice Carlos Mendoza is a wounded man. Last November, the stipulation notes, "over three months prior to the initiation of the present proceedings, [Mendoza] sustained, and continues to suffer from, a severe medical condition that prevents him from actively carrying out his duties as a justice of the peace." In addition, the injury "severely limited" Mendoza's ability to assist his lawyer in preparing for his judicial conduct hearing, or so the paperwork claims.

So Mendoza agreed to a voluntary medical retirement as of August 31, 2008, and the disciplinary counsel for the judicial conduct commission agreed to withdraw all the charges against him. Problem solved.

We'll try to get more on this for next week's print edition. Meantime, for more info on Mendoza, see my colleague's work here.

Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske