PHOENIX (CN) – Sheriff Joe Arpaio has sued his bosses again, claiming the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has a conflict of interest in choosing his lawyers. It’s at least the ninth time the self-described “America’s toughest sheriff” has sued his bosses in the past 3 years.
The board established its own “in-house law firms” in December 2008 after it decided that “then-County Attorney Andrew P. Thomas allegedly had ethical conflicts of interest with the board that prevented him from performing his statutory duties as legal advisor,” Arpaio claims in Maricopa County Court.
Arpaio claims the board has taken steps against him “to consolidate the powers of county government” and diminish his power.
The in-house attorneys “are the very people choosing and controlling the sheriff’s lawyers,” and are violating the Arizona Constitution, Arpaio says.
Board members have lodged multiple claims against Arpaio, but the in-house law firms refuse to appoint independent lawyers to defend him because they “have an obvious interest in managing the notices of claim filed by the members of the board,” Arpaio says.
Supervisor Don Stapley filed a notice of claim on Arpaio in March, demanding $5 million for false arrest and emotional distress.
Arpaio’s office arrested Stapley twice, for “alleged financial improprieties,” in December 2008 and September 2009.
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox also filed a claim on May 27, demanding $4.75 million, claiming Arpaio had investigated her “in retaliation for her opposition to their stance on illegal immigration.”
The board “spent some $14,000 to sweep for hidden electronic devices purported to be planted by the Sheriff’s Office,” Arpaio says. Those sweeps were conducted in December 2008 and in March 2009.
Arpaio sued the county in February 2009, claiming it had “unlawfully encumbered and transferred funds that it did not have the authority to encumber.”
He sued his bosses again in April 2009, claiming that the county had “unlawfully enacted a public records policy limiting county officers from making public records requests” and had “exerted management control over a criminal justice information system which must be under the management control of a criminal justice agency.”
Arpaio seeks declaratory judgment that the Board of Supervisors has a conflict of interest preventing it from assigning him lawyers, and that he is entitled to select his own counsel.
Arpaio is represented by L. Eric Dowell and F. David Harlow with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.