Maricopa County Andrew Thomas, following up today on a damning court ruling against him, moved to dismiss both the criminal complaint against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe and the second indictment of County Supervisor Don Stapley.
Thomas isn't throwing in the towel, though.
He's launching an appeal of today's ruling by Pima County Judge John Leonardo, and he's asking the court to dismiss the cases against both Stapley and Donahoe without prejudice, so that the charges can be brought again once special prosecutors are assigned.
But, as usual in county matters, there's a weird part to all this: Thomas wants the Board of Supervisors to convene a meeting Friday "to facilitate the appointment" of the special prosecutors.
It's like he actually expects the Board of Supervisors to play along.
In our simple, non-lawyerly brain, we imagine that the Board of Supervisors could simply tell Thomas to jump in the Salt River (luckily, there's a little water in it these days).
After all, the special master assigned to county matters by the Arizona Supreme Court, former state Supreme Court Justice Ruth McGregor, told Thomas in a ruling last month that he could sue the Supes on that issue, which Thomas subsequently did.
Today's ruling by Leonardo doesn't state specifically how Thomas could appoint the prosecutors. The judge just said Thomas may appoint them if he's willing to give up all control on the cases.
The fact that Thomas is now turning to the Supervisors for help with this appointment doesn't mean he'll get that help -- does it?
Here's the full statement from Thomas' office:
We disagree with the court's conclusion that our office has a conflict of interest and we will appeal that decision. We are encouraged that the court's ruling authorizes the Maricopa County Attorney to appoint independent special prosecutors.
In accordance with that ruling we shall appoint special prosecutors to assume responsibility for the investigation of all matters relating to members of the Board of Supervisors and the Judiciary. This is what we have been seeking since the start of this investigation. However, the Board of Supervisors denied our repeated attempts to do so. Had they facilitated the appointment of special prosecutors this protracted legal process would not have been necessary. We have also requested that the Board of Supervisors call a special meeting Friday to facilitate the appointment.
We are dismissing the criminal complaint against Judge Donahoe and the second Stapley indictment without prejudice pending the outcome of the appeal of the court's decision and the appointment of special prosecutors.
Thomas' office sent along the related documents in PDF format, if you want to view them:
Letter from Thomas to Supervisors
Donahoe motion to dismiss
Stapley motion to dismiss
Notice of intent to hire special prosecutors in Wilcox case
It seems quite possible that all three criminal cases may never resurface.
Sure, the mess with the special prosecutors may be straightened out, and these prosecutions may get back on track.
But, for now, all of Thomas' birds are back in the bush.
UPDATE: Board of Supervisors says no to Thomas' request for a special meeting.