Arpaio Lawsuits Tie County Board in Knots

     PHOENIX (CN) – A Maricopa County Supervisor claims there is no conflict of interest in her participation in discussions of a class action involving racial profiling by the sheriff’s office, despite her own lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
     Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox sued the county and Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery, in Maricopa County Court, seeking declaratory judgment.
     Wilcox claims that she participated in discussions with other members of the Board of Supervisors, without any objections, while the class action Melendres v. Arpaio played out in Federal Court.
     But on June 6, County Attorney Montgomery “issued an opinion advising Supervisor Wilcox that she had a conflict of interest in participating in the Board of Supervisor’s discussions and decisions regarding the Melendres case,” the complaint states.
     Wilcox acknowledges that she “has spoken out publicly, opposing an appeal of the Melendres decision,” after U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow found in May “that Sheriff Arpaio’s immigration-enforcement policies and practices unconstitutionally targeted people by reason of their color.”
     Wilcox says in the complaint: “County Attorney Montgomery’s opinion is poorly reasoned, and its conclusion is incorrect.”
     She claims the county attorney’s letter is meant to “force Supervisor Wilcox out of discussions regarding the Melendres case at the behest of Sheriff Arpaio,” who wants to appeal.
     Wilcox sued Arpaio and then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas in 2011, “alleging that they had committed civil rights violations and state-law torts against her” by twice indicting her for “participating in decisions of the Board of Supervisors when she had a conflict of interest,” according to the new complaint.
     The charges against Wilcox were dismissed. Thomas was disbarred in 2012, and the county settled with Wilcox on her lawsuit.
     That case, however, is pending before the 9th Circuit: Montgomery refused to honor the $975,000 settlement with Wilcox, according to the complaint.
     Wilcox claims that if she “is prevented from participating in discussions and decisions regarding the Melendres case, her constituents will be deprived of a voice on issues of central and immediate concern to the Latino community.”
     Wilcox is the only woman, the only Democrat, and the only Hispanic on the five-person Board of Supervisors.
     She seeks declaratory judgment stating that she “does not have any conflict of interest in participating in Maricopa County Board of Supervisor discussions and decisions regarding Melendres v. Arpaio.”
     She is represented by Colin Campbell and Kathleen Brody O’Meara, with Osborn Maledon.

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