Thomas loses bid for special prosecutors - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Thomas loses bid for special prosecutors

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Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 12:32 pm | Updated: 3:32 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A judge on Wednesday rejected the county attorney's request to appoint special prosecutors to take over the criminal cases and investigations of Maricopa County leaders.

A judge on Wednesday rejected the county attorney's request to appoint special prosecutors to take over the criminal cases and investigations of Maricopa County leaders.

Retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ruth McGregor wrote in her ruling that the Supreme Court order that gives her authority to oversee the cases of county supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox doesn't give her the authority to appoint special prosecutors.

Barnett Lotstein, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said that while McGregor rejected the request, she gave the office direction on how to proceed.

"We're not unhappy with Justice McGregor's decision," Lotstein said. "We knew it was a long shot."

Although McGregor doesn't overtly give direction in her brief ruling, she mentioned that the county attorney's motion was in the nature of mandamus, a legal term for suing a government authority that allegedly has not performed its duties.

Lotstein said his office will file a writ of mandamus soon but hasn't decided whether to file it with the trial judge over the Stapley and Wilcox cases or directly in appellate court.

The filing would allege that the Board of Supervisors were without discretion and were bound by law to hire the special prosecutors.

The board refused last year to hire the Washington, D.C.-based, husband-and-wife team of Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing and local retired prosecutor James Rizer to act as special prosecutors.

The board said the county attorney did not follow procurement rules.

Thomas wanted them to oversee sheriff's office investigations into the building of a $347 million court tower and white-collar allegations involving Stapley and Wilcox.

The two county supervisors were indicted Dec. 7 in separate cases alleging theft, fraud and conflict of interest.

Thomas said he wanted to hire the special prosecutors to remove any allegations of conflict of interest he might have in prosecuting county officials.

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