The second-in-command for Maricopa County Superior Court’s criminal division will hear arguments today for why he should recuse himself from all cases involving the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
That would be most of the cases Judge Timothy Ryan hears.
The hearing follows a motion filed Tuesday afternoon by Dennis Wilenchik, a private attorney contracted by the county attorney’s office. Wilenchik wrote that Ryan “has demonstrated a persistent pattern of conduct that indicates bias and prejudice against the Maricopa County Attorney and multiple prosecutors in that office.” He accused Ryan of having a personal agenda “to intentionally ignore the judicial enforcement of Proposition 100 and its denial of bail for serious offenses committed by illegal immigrants.”
Specifically, Wilenchik pointed to several instances in which Ryan chastised deputy county attorneys for not showing up for court dates, and several cases that Ryan dismissed. He also faulted Ryan for releasing a handful of potential illegal immigrants from custody.
Ryan acknowledged receiving Wilenchik’s motion, but didn’t expect to have time to read it until Tuesday night. He said he could not recall ever before being asked to recuse himself from a case.
After two years in the court’s civil division, Ryan was named associate presiding criminal division judge in April. He entered the position as County Attorney Andrew Thomas began vigorously accusing the court of failing to enforce Proposition 100.
Presiding Criminal Division Judge Anna Baca recommended Ryan for his promotion after working with him in the civil division. “He interacted well with attorneys and others in the court,” Baca said of her colleague in May.
Ryan spent five years as a public defender, three years as a county prosecutor and 10 years in private practice before he was appointed to the bench in 2005 by Gov. Janet Napolitano.