Legal Reference

Maricopa County Supervisors don't require Sheriff Joe to file a claim before filing lawsuit

A double standard for government rulers and elected officials on lawsuits?

When a normal person wants to file a lawsuit against any Arizona government agency you can't just file a lawsuit in court like you would to sue somebody else.

Before suing an Arizona government agency you first have to file a claim against the agency. The agency then pretends to evaluate your claim and if they think your claim is valid they will pay you.

If the agency doesn't think your claim is valid then they will either say so, or they will never respond to your claim. In my case they have NEVER responded to ANY of my claims!

Then after some time frame which I think is 6 months, but I could be wrong on that you can file a lawsuit against the Arizona government agency.

If this sounds a bit weird then it is. The procedure is mostly used to prevent people from suing Arizona government agencies. Because if you don't file that initial claim they will refuse to let you file the lawsuit.

In this case it sounds like they are giving Sheriff Joe special treatment and letting him skip the process of filing a claim.

I have filed MANY claims against the State of Arizona, Maricopa County, and the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa and not once have they ever responded to any of my claims. Like I said the process is not to make us have some form of "better government" but rather to allow the government to screw people and prevent the people from suing the government.


Maricopa County Board of Supervisors give Joe Arpaio OK to bypass lawsuit procedure

by Sean Holstege - Nov. 23, 2010 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is allowing Sheriff Joe Arpaio to bypass the county's "talk first, sue later" policy in a trio of lawsuits over an ongoing power struggle.

The board voted 4-0 Monday to waive the requirement, allowing the county Sheriff's Office to hire a legal team and pursue the three cases on appeal. Board President Don Stapley was not present for the vote.

Arpaio sued the board within the past year to:

- Get control of the budget for Correctional Health Services, which provides medical care to jail inmates.

- Be allowed to pick his own attorney in civil matters.

- Prevent the board from enforcing subpoenas for MCSO budget records, a case now being heard in Pima County.

In each case, Arpaio did not seek mediation before the county's dispute-resolution panel, a requirement before suing the county.

The policy, enacted in October 2009, works just like the claims system for members of the public. People who seek damages from the county, in a trip-and-fall case, for example, must file a claim before going to court or their case will be thrown out.

In September the board dismissed Arpaio's legal team. The three lawsuits have gone to appeal, but the MCSO has no legal representation. In Monday's action, the county's Office of Special Litigation can now appoint counsel to represent the Sheriff's Office. By statute, the sheriff cannot represent himself in legal matters and the board is responsible for hiring lawyers to represent county agencies.

Wade Swanson, general counsel to the board, explained the reasoning behind an action that helps a legal adversary continue litigating.

"We are not cutting the sheriff any slack. We think by allowing his attorneys to appear, we will resolve these cases quicker," Swanson said. "Otherwise, these cases could languish. We don't want everything to go into the legal twilight zone.

"I think the sheriff would love nothing more than to say the board interfered with his right to be represented. [ Which is what the requirement for filing a claim does to everybody else who wants to sue the state of Arizona does. It interferes with their right to file a a lawsuit. ] I would rather have the cases heard with proper counsel; otherwise, he can argue he can't even get in the courthouse under the current board."

Jack MacIntyre, deputy chief at the Sheriff's Office, said the county's reasoning was more practical.

"You don't want to win a pyrrhic victory, either. Then you end up back at square one," MacIntyre said.

Separately, the MCSO dropped the case involving Correctional Health Services on Monday. It was in the interests of both parties to move on, MacIntyre said.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to waive a conflict of interest involving a law firm that has represented the county and the Sheriff's Office in numerous cases. Iafrate & Associates represents the MCSO in some ongoing federal and state investigations.

Monday's action lets Michele Iafrate represent the Sheriff's Office in a fourth civil case against the county, also being heard in Pima County, over access to county computers that house sensitive crime data.