Maricopa County Craziness

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's $990/hour Sidley Austin Lawyers Lose Again


That was a good use of taxpayer money.

Once again refusing to accept the notion that his goons do not have a right under Arizona law to read judges' email, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Once again, he was shot down yesterday, without so much as an oral argument.

By our count, this marks the sheriff's fourth loss on the email issue. Arpaio initially lost in Maricopa County Superior Court, then lost an appeal. After that, he filed another public records for the same emails, and -- when he was rebuffed by court administrators -- asked the appellate court to look at that. They declined, and state's top court backed that decision with a terse denial yesterday.

What makes this all so sad: Arpaio's lawyer for the last two rounds has been the incredibly expensive Carter G. Phillips, at Washington, D.C.-based Sidley Austin.

We were shocked to find out last month that Phillips has been charging Arpaio -- and, yes, that really means us the taxpayers -- $990 per hour.

And the craziest part of all? That's apparently a discount from the D.C.-based lawyer's usual rate of $1,100.

Hasn't this guy ever heard of the recession?

Through November, Phillips had billed the county $89,209 for his work on the case. That's despite getting shot down, twice, and without gathering so much as a piece of discovery.

Phillips' local co-counsel billed the county for another $33,408, according to the records we obtained.

That means Arpaio has spent more than $122,000 on a set of appeals that got him literally no further than he was a year ago. But why stop there? The court administrators' emails are surely central to the sheriff's business -- and the taxpayers are downright flush these days.

How much do you want to bet Sidley Austin is already working on an appeal to the United State Supreme Court? Remember, $990 an hour is a discount to Arpaio -- at least when you and I are paying.