Earlier this week, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and political ally, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, filed a civil suit against county administrators, elected officials, judges and attorneys who have challenged his authority. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants “conspired to hinder criminal prosecutions and investigations in exchange for funding a $345 million court building.” However, today Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mundell released a statement calling the allegations “false, frivolous and slanderous”:
None of the judges have received copies of the judicial conduct complaints filed by Chief Deputy Sheriff David Hendershott and have only read about these allegations in news reports. Recently, two of these complaints were posted on a media website.
The allegations are false, frivolous and slanderous. This is the latest attempt to intimidate the judiciary and interfere with the fair, impartial and timely administration of justice. This attempt will fail. The bench of the Maricopa County Superior Court will continue to provide access to the courts, decide cases based upon the law and not politics, protect the rights of victims and defendants and ensure public safety.
Last month, Phoenix’s local KPHO-Channel 5 reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started looking into accusations that Arpaio has been “using his position to settle political vendettas” against those who have been critical of his controversial police tactics, primarily his aggressive pursuit of undocumented immigrants. Mundell was among the well-known Arizona public figures who KPHO listed as having been paid “unwelcome visits” by Arpaio’s deputies shortly after speaking out against the Sheriff.
During the spring of this year, Mundell criticized Arpaio’s treatment of inmates and his failure to transport them to their court hearings. Mundell then signed off on an administrative order aimed at making sure both defendants and victims get their day in court. Arpaio was furious and called the move a political attack. Shortly thereafter, Mundell reported that the Arpaio’s deputies had “mysteriously staked out her home.”