PHOENIX (CN) - Two more Superior Court judges have sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio for defamation, and a deputy county manager and a county administrator added complaints of their own, all alleging that Arpaio targeted them for baseless criminal investigations to retaliate for the judges' court rulings and the county employees work on budget cuts. Four Superior Court judges or retired judges have sued Arpaio this week; the new plaintiffs claim that Arpaio's actions "constitute the rankest misuse of power against those innocent and powerless citizens that our system of government is supposed to protect."
Of the four new defamation complaints in Maricopa County Court, one comes from retired Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields; one is from Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe; one is from Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson; and one from Sue Schuerman, a deputy administrator to County Supervisor Don Stapley.
The new lawsuits come on the heels of a similar complaint from Barbara Mundrell, the presiding judge of Maricopa County Superior Court until she retired this year, and Anna Baca, presiding judge of Maricopa County Criminal Presiding Court until she retired in 2009.
All five complaints (the first two judges sued together) claim that Arpaio acted in concert with his chief deputy and with former County Attorney Andrew Thomas to retaliate for the officials' actions taken in the course of their official duties, and all say that Arpaio and his cronies knew their defamatory allegations were baseless when they made them.
In her complaint, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson says Arpaio and Thomas targeted her after she recommended budget cuts to their agencies, when she was acting county manager.
In response, Wilson says, the defendants told the media that she was under "criminal investigation." This came after she supported the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors' decision to continue with the construction of the Court Tower project, "a capital project 12 years in the planning, one budgeted for and saved for over those years; a project in which both Arpaio and Thomas had participated in planning."
Wilson says Arpaio sent deputies to county employees' homes, "seeking information on their bosses and information that they might use as fodder in the war they had declared against the cost-conscious county - by virtue of her position, Sandi Wilson was at the epicenter of their attack."
In January this year, Thomas and co-defendant Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon "empanelled a grand jury to use as one of their tools of intimidation," but their case was "muddled, political, as 'incomprehensible' as it was to the independent prosecutors that later reviewed their 'case'," according to Wilson's complaint.
Wilson adds that Thomas and Aubuchon continued to defame her even after leaving their positions, accusing her and other county officials of "rigging the system so they can avoid going to court like anyone else and testifying under oath," and saying that the racketeering action against Wilson was "justly filed."