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Arizona J.P. Booted From Court for Good

PHOENIX (CN) - A former municipal judge whose suburban Phoenix courts allegedly fell into "total disarray" is banned from ever again working as a judicial officer in Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled.

The court on Sept. 23 removed Scott Sulley from his 10-year position as Justice of the Peace for the Maricopa/Stanfield Precinct Justice Court late last month.

He resigned from his position as magistrate judge for the Maricopa Municipal Court in May.

Maricopa is a town of about 43,000 people in Pinal County, on the southeastern edge of the Phoenix metro area.

Sulley's removal and ban came after an investigation of his courts by the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct, which was sparked by a complaint lodged in April.

A statement of charges filed by the commission in June found a "complete systems breakdown" in Sulley's courts.

Investigators said they discovered "more than 400 final disposition reports unprocessed and stacked throughout the office," along with a "negative discrepancy" of $155,757, evidence of theft, and a staff that didn't know the basics of court management.

"The majority of court clerks do not know how to perform even very basic functions in the court's case management system, including docketing," the filing states. "This is true even for staff who have worked in the Maricopa courts for over 10 years."

Investigators said that Sulley "routinely berated his staff when they did not perform tasks to his standards, yet he maintained inconsistent standards and declined to train his staff regarding his requirements," and that he "often lost his temper in the open staff area so that he yelled at and berated staff in the presence of the public."

Sulley allegedly "interrupted defendants while they were speaking and told them to stop talking or he would have them arrested," and "regularly muted his microphone to avoid being recorded on the court's recording system."

Court workers also claimed they had smelled alcohol on Sulley's breath, investigators said.

Sulley did not appear before the commission or the state's high court, and did not file a written response to the allegations.

Sulley was an attorney in Pinal County for 15 years before being elected as Justice of the Peace for the Maricopa/Stanfield Precinct Justice Court in 2003.

The Maricopa Town Manager's Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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