Thursday, June 5, 2014

Arpaio's/MCSO's Civil Rights Activities: Maricopa County Hires Counsel To Review Monitor's Bill; Wants Detail But Not Too Many Details

Maricopa County has retained additional outside legal counsel to review bills submitted by Court-appointed Monitor Robert Warshaw in the civil rights case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the MCSO.  Maricopa County wants to ensure that those six-figure bills have enough detail to feel comfortable paying them;  however, the County does not want too much detail because it does not want to interfere with the Monitor's inquiries.

Late last week (May 30), Scottsdale attorney Katherine Baker submitted her appearance to the Court in the long-running Melendres v. Arpaio case, in which Judge G. Murray Snow found that the MCSO violated persons' civil rights during immigration enforcement sweeps.  Her purpose is "to communicate with and advise Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson," and she indicates that she "has read...understands...and agrees to comply" with Snow's May 15 Order.

On May 15, Judge Snow ordered the Monitor to submit public bills AND more detailed bills that can be reviewed privately by the parties.

(Yesterday, the Phoenix New Times reported that the MCSO has spent more than $200,000 investigating whether Judge Snow - and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder - are conspiring to "get" the Sheriff.)

Maricopa County Communications Director Cari Gerchick indicates that Baker will ensure that the Monitor's bills "will give us enough detail to make sure we're fulfilling our financial responsibility."  She went on to tell Arizona's Politics that Wilson "understand(s) that the Court Monitor is going to meet with people he can't disclose and we are not trying to get into that kind of detail."

Gerchick notes that the Board of Supervisors did not need to review and approve the new outside counsel, and that Baker may bill the County at a rate of up to $250/hr.  The County expects the Monitor's bills to average nearly $150,000/month.

In addition to Baker and the Monitor, County taxpayers are also paying the plaintiffs' legal fees ($7.3M), the fees for the outside counsel representing the MCSO (more than $1M), and employees in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office working on the matter.  The County has also budgeted more than $7.7M for the remainder of this fiscal year alone for the MCSO to put procedures in place that comply with the Court's orders.

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