Board could strip some authority from Thomas - East Valley Tribune: News

Board could strip some authority from Thomas

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Posted: Monday, December 22, 2008 7:33 pm | Updated: 10:58 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will attempt to strip the Maricopa County Attorney's Office of its ability to represent the county in lawsuits during a special board meeting today.

The board will vote on a motion that would remove the authority to handle civil litigation from County Attorney Andrew Thomas, whose office indicted Supervisor Don Stapley on 118 criminal charges earlier this month.

Also on the three-item agenda is the authority to hire an outside law firm to provide legal advice to the board, a firm that would bring on former Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley.

Thomas ripped the planned actions by the board in a joint statement issued with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose office conducted the Stapley investigation.

The two called the proposed board actions "blatant retaliation" for the investigation and prosecution of Stapley. They also blasted the decision to hire Romley, who feuded regularly with Arpaio as county attorney and last month endorsed Thomas' opponent in the general election.

Romley, Thomas, Arpaio and Stapley are all Republicans.

"Instead of rallying around their indicted colleague and 'hiring' a disgruntled former county attorney ... the board should allow us to do the jobs the voters elected us to do," Thomas and Arpaio said in their written statement.

Romley said he could not comment.

The county attorney provides legal advice to the board and defends the county in lawsuits in addition to the office's responsibility to prosecute crimes.

At issue is whether the board has the power to delegate an outside law firm to defend lawsuits.

The board will meet at 1 p.m. in the supervisors' conference room, 301 W. Jefferson St., on the 10th floor.

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