A rally held yesterday near Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas’ office was attended by some 250 people, many of them lawyers, according to the local paper, The Arizona Republic. See Anti-Thomas rally draws more than 250 people in Phoenix and also see County Attorney Andrew Thomas the Focus of Big Downtown Phoenix Protest.
I received at least 3 broadcast email invitations to attend the rally. No, I wasn’t necessarily re-arranging my sock drawer but I was revising a time-sensitive opposition to a summary judgment motion and so unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend.
Coal from Santa?
Doubtless some at the rally hope County Attorney Andy Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio get lumps of coal in their stockings at Christmas. There’s certainly enough “naughtiness” going around if Santa’s so inclined.
Additionally, this morning’s Arizona Republic editorial page writers were all a-lather again. This time, they were frothed up over the anti-Thomas rally. Like wilderness prophets proclaiming impending judgment, the paper’s editorial board has been almost alone beating the drums of insolent indignation. This is why they were so gratified by an open letter to the paper from the Yavapai County Attorney, Sheila Polk. See Arpaio, Thomas are abusing power.
I previously posted on this topic at Life in Bizarro World:County Attorney Charges Presiding Judge.
The charges brought by the county attorney against the presiding judge are extremely serious. And so the process will proceed. And in due course, the truth will out.
But this said, it’s still important to continue recognizing the presumption of innocence, especially when the odor of politics emanates. Is this nothing more than payback? Judge Gary Donahue and other members of the bench previously ruled against the county attorney and the sheriff on separate matters. See Valley Fever – Andrew Thomas Spanked By Appeals Court.
Importance of an impartial and independent judiciary.
An independent judiciary free of political threat and special interest pressure is vital to preserving civil rights and a free democracy. For lawyers, it’s almost a cliche to say we are a nation of laws, especially as this phrase often gets lost in the rarefied ether of self-serving lawyer-speak.
An impartial, independent judiciary serves as a fundamental check on potential government abuse when its rulings are free of political pressure of elected officials and special interests.
I predict things will continue to heat up in the coming year. Right now, the stakeholders have drawn their lines in the sand. But the general public mostly sits on the sidelines.
I don’t know if this is because the issues appear too far removed from the public’s day-to-day concerns or if the local paper lacks sufficient credibility to make its case, especially when faced with a still popular county sheriff.
Therefore, the challenge remains. Those worried about continuing political threats upon the judiciary need to make their case to friends and neighbors.
When the day comes that a judge’s disfavored ruling results in his subsequent criminal prosecution, then everyone’s civil rights are going to be endangered. How can a judiciary sustain its impartiality when one of its jurists worries about his or her own skin?
First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me. – Martin Nieboller