In court Friday, an attorney for the county said he would consult with the board as to whether they would join in the sheriff’s motion to recuse Judge G. Murray Snow because of questions he asked regarding investigations of Snow and Snow’s wife by the Sheriff’s Office.
Under Arizona law, the Sheriff’s Office is not a legal entity that can be sued—it’s the County that’s the legal entity (Arpaio individually is also a defendant). A closed-door executive session of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors today was followed by a public vote to adopt whatever it was they talked about in secret—not disclosing what that was.
The Arizona Republic questioned the legality of the vote, citing the Arizona Open Records Law, that says:
…notices and agendas be provided which contain such information as is reasonably necessary to inform the public of the matters to be discussed or decided.
The County responded “… the judge has to know about it before it shows up in a blog.”
Hey what’s wrong with blogs? Judges can read blogs too. In any case the news cycle of this blog is shorter than that of the Arizona Republic and I have the story. The answer is tied up in what I said earlier about the County being on the hook in Melendres, rather than the Sheriff’s office.
The County was a party to the lawsuit, but then in 2009 Judge Snow dismissed them from it (ECF 194, 10/13/2009); however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that they be added back, in substitution for the Sheriff’s Office and remanded the case back to Judge Snow on April 15 of this year. The County is asking for reconsideration of that decision, so their non-response to the disqualification motion is explained in a brief filed today:
As the Court is aware, the County has advanced arguments to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to the effect that that court’s decision issued April 15, 2015, ordering that the County be made a party litigant in this action was, in that respect, erroneous and should be reversed. See Doc. 1116. In light of those arguments, the Board has determined that it would not be appropriate for the County to take a position on the pending Motion for Recusal or Disqualification.