Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Madcap Maricopians

A quick update.

So there's this pending lawsuit in federal court.  They claim that Sheriff Joe and the boys are engaged in racial profiling.  Oh, and the federal grand jury has subpoenaed them, too.  Joe says no, and you don't have the evidence to prove it, because we've destroyed the e-mails.  Nyah, nyah, nyah.  Go ahead judge.  Sanction us.
And then, whoops.  Turns out that because of another lawsuit, Maricopa County has been archiving the things for a couple of years.  Except nobody bothered to tell Joe.
Joe says they're his property.  The County Supervisors (you know, the folks Joe and Andy sued and indicted and then dismissed the charges and over his misconduct with Joe's being investigated by the feds) say they belong to Maricopa itself.  And tomorrow morning a judge in Pima County (that's Tucson to us tinhorns) will try to sort it out.
Too complicated.  The Arizona Republic helps sort it out.
The Sheriff's Office says the e-mails belong to them, and they should have been deleted from an emergency backup system after 28 days.
County management says the e-mails are county property. And the messages play into two federal cases, a racial-profiling civil lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and an FBI criminal investigation into Arpaio's office, so they refused to turn them over to the sheriff.
A Pima County judge will try to sort out ownership in an emergency hearing Wednesday morning.
The issue first arose in February when the Sheriff's Office claimed in the civil lawsuit that e-mails concerning Arpaio's controversial "crime-suppression operations" had been deleted from the system. The federal judge imposed sanctions against the office.
But last week, county officials announced they had recovered the e-mails - though actually, they had been archived.
The news caught the Sheriff's Office by surprise.

On Friday afternoon, Sheriff's Commander Bob Rampy confronted county technology managers and demanded the e-mails be turned over to him, first by e-mail and later in person. County officials turned Rampy down. 
County lawyers filed an emergency motion for an order of protection against the Sheriff's Office with the Pima County judge, who is handling an ongoing case between the county and the sheriff over management of a county law-enforcement computer database.

In that motion, attorney Julie Pace, who represents the county, revealed that not only were some of the e-mails subject to the racial-profiling suit, but that other, unspecified e-mails also had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating Arpaio's office. The two sets of e-mails may overlap, but county officials will not reveal the contents of the latest subpoena.
Judge Theodore Borek, who was assigned to the computer case last year, granted the order of protection and set a hearing for Wednesday in Tucson.
And, of course, there's video.

Of course, I don't know what's in those e-mails.  But you don't tend to go around destroying evidence a judge is asking for unless you think there's something damaging in it.
Perhaps we'll know more after tomorrow's festivities in Tucson.
Meanwhile, on the lapdog front, it seems that Andy Thomas is being investigated by the FBI for abuse of power and now, finally, by the Arizona Supreme Court.

h/t NF

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