Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley on Thursday released hundreds of pages of grand-jury testimony and other documents showing failed attempts by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas to obtain criminal charges against county officials.The whole article, as well as the attached documentation, is well worth a read.
Grand-jury proceedings are secret, but a Superior Court judge unsealed the records "in the furtherance of justice."
As is the article in the Phoenix New Times' Valley Fever.
From that article -
Bombshell stuff at a press conference just completed in downtown Phoenix at the offices of interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.Let's be clear on one thing - the *timing* of Romley's presser was almost certainly motivated by political considerations, at least in part.
The biggest news was that a county grand jury last March rejected efforts by one of then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas' special prosecutors to issue major felony indictments against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, county manager David Smith, and several other county officials.
"This is outrageous behavior, absolutely outrageous, and this miscarriage of justice stops now," Romley said a few minutes ago.
Arpaio has been using his vast campaign war chest to fund anti-Romley and anti-Tom Horne (Andrew Thomas' primary opponent for the R nomination for AZ Attorney General) and Romley's primary is less than two weeks out. And in what is sure to be a low turnout election, many folks are still undecided (statewide ballpark figures that I've heard on early ballots are that roughly 1/4 have been returned at a point in the cycle when normally closer to 1/2 have been returned).
Today's press conference by Romley, who's running a "professionalism vs. blind ideology" campaign against his opponent, the Arpaio-endorsed former Thomas deputy Bill Montgomery, needed to reach out to some of the undecideds. This does that.
Having said all that, however, let's be clear on one other thing - the *content* of the press conference is nothing that surprised any seasoned observers of the goings-on in Maricopa County.
Folks have known for months and years that Thomas' and Arpaio's investigations and indictments of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and various county employees and judges were more about intimidation and retribution than about justice and truth.
Folks have known that the outside prosecutors who looked at the cases declined to accept the cases on the grounds that there was no "there" there.
Folks have heard whispers about all of this, but now those whispers are documents.
I think that the ideal situation in government is that officials who are relative equals behave as independent yet respectful colleagues.
Right now in Maricopa County, we are seeing a situation where relative equals are ardent adversaries (the Supes and County Attorney on one side, the Sheriff and former CA on the other).
Still, it beats what we had just a few short months ago - County officials who were less "independent" and more "co-conspirators." And the co-conspirators were something other than "respectful" toward their other equals.
Andrew Thomas has a press conference of his own scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to respond to Romley's information release today.