Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Federal Judge Dismisses New Times Lawsuit against County Attorney’s Office

County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that a federal judge has granted a motion to dismiss Thomas, his wife and the County Attorney’s Office from a lawsuit filed by the New Times media conglomerate.

In granting the motion, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton stated the decision to hire outside counsel due to conflict of interest “falls within the prosecutorial function because it is intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process.” The judge further states, “Plaintiff’s vague allegations regarding the failure to train or supervise do not allege Thomas was aware of (Dennis) Wilenchik’s conduct in issuing overly broad subpoenas or failing to follow grand jury procedures.”

The court additionally ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dennis Wilenchik did not violate the free speech or First Amendment rights of editor Mike Lacey and publisher Jim Larkin. The ruling stated, “the enforcement of laws of general applicability does not violate the First Amendment.”

The court also dismissed claims alleging malicious prosecution against Sheriff Arpaio and dismissed several claims against Dennis Wilenchik based on prosecutorial immunity.

Thomas stated, “I am grateful that Judge Bolton has dismissed my wife and me and the County Attorney’s Office from this frivolous lawsuit.”

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