Two U.S. Attorneys from the George W. Bush administration are at opposite ends of a legal quarrel over control of a glass-bottomed walkway that stretches out over the edge of the Grand Canyon, The Arizona Republic reported Thursday.
On one side of the dispute is former Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, who represents the Hualapai tribe which allowed the Grand Canyon Skywalk to be built on their land. On the other side is former Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, who is representing Grand Canyon Skywalk Development LLC, which built and operates the tourist attraction that opened in 2007.
The tribe is trying to void a revenue-splitting contract with Skywalk Development that is estimated at $100 million and take control of the attraction. A representative of the tribe told the newspaper that Skywalk Development hasn’t finished construction or supplied utilities as stipulated by contract. Skywalk Development has urged a federal judge stop the tribe’s effort to invalidate the contract, claiming that members of the tribe broke the contract and embezzled money from the venture.
Charlton, who was one of nine U.S. Attorneys ousted during the firing scandal, served from 2001 to 2007. He is currently a shareholder at the law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy PA in Phoenix.
Eid, who was U.S. Attorney from 2006 to 2009, is a shareholder at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP in Denver.
Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Diane Humetewa has been appointed a special adviser to the president of Arizona State University.
- Diane Humetewa (ASU)
Humetewa, who served as U.S. Attorney from 2007 to 2009, will counsel ASU President Michael M. Crow on American Indian matters. She was the first female Native American U.S. Attorney.
At ASU, Humetewa also will lead the university’s Tribal Liaison Advisory Committee, sit on the Provost’s Native American Advisory Council, serve as the school’s legal counsel on American Indian issues and be a law professor.
Humetewa received her undergraduate degree from ASU in 1987 and her law degree from the university in 1993. She has been on the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Indian Legal Advisory Committee since 1997.
“Diane Humetewa will provide advice and counsel to ASU on its efforts to design and implement programs and initiatives to better serve Native American students and to partner with Arizona’s Indian tribal governments,” Crow said in a statement.
The Justice Department again will keep an eye out for voter intimidation Tuesday in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County in Arizona.
The DOJ will deploy federal monitors from the Office of Personnel Management to polling places across the county during its municipal elections on Tuesday to verify the county’s compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which forbids discrimination in elections based on an individual’s color, race or language. The county must aid voters in Spanish and O’odham, an American Indian language.
The DOJ has previously dispatched its own personnel to the county to monitor elections, most recently during the 2010 general election. But this is the first time DOJ has sent federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management to Maricopa County to monitor an election. In the 2010 general election, federal observers and DOJ personnel were deployed to more than two dozen counties across the country.
Yvonne Reed, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County elections office, told Main Justice that the county is ready to provide the federal observers with the necessary identification when they arrive.
“We’re just waiting for them to show up,” Reed said.
The county has been in the national spotlight for Arpaio’s controversial efforts to root out illegal immigrants. The DOJ filed a lawsuit against Arpaio in September, saying the sheriff didn’t cooperate with an investigation into allegations that his department singles out Hispanics.
Arpaio, who has rebuffed claims that he uses racial profiling, has said he was caught off guard by the lawsuit. He has said that he thought the DOJ and his lawyers were close to a deal prior to the announcement of the lawsuit.
“I’m not going to be intimidated by the federal government going to court against us,” Arpaio said in September, according to The New York Times.
Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke doesn’t want the case against accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner moved out of state, the Arizona Republic reported.
Last week, it was announced that U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns of the Southern District of California, a former federal prosecutor, will preside over the case. Among the dead in the shooting rampage was U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, chief of the Arizona federal courts.
As previously reported, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins ruled that federal judges assigned to Arizona’s Tucson division must recuse themselves from presiding over the case because ethics rules require judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Burke’s office said in a statement that prosecutors would fight to keep the case in the state if defense attorneys seek to have it moved. He also denied reports that federal officials planned to move the case to San Diego.
“For good reason, federal law dictates these offenses be tried in this district,” a Burke spokesman said in the statement. The Republic reported that a Justice Department spokesman echoed the commitment to keep the trial in Arizona.
Six people died in the shooting rampage at an constituent event in a supermarket parking lot being held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-N.M.), who was severely wounded with a gunshot to the head.
U.S. District Judge Raner Collins ruled on Tuesday that federal judges assigned to Arizona’s Tucson division must recuse themselves from presiding over the prosecution of Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in Saturday’s shooting rampage, Bloomberg reported.
The ruling is connected with ethics rules that require judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Among the five federal charges against Loughner, who is accused of killing six people and wounding more than a dozen, is a count for the killing of Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll.
Loughner’s lawyer, Judy Clarke, said on Monday that all federal prosecutors in Arizona should recuse themselves from the case, Bloomberg reported. If they don’t, she said, she can file a motion to disqualify them.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Lodge was named an Arizona Superior Court judge in Coconino County by Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday.
Lodge has been with the U.S. Attorney’s Office since 1989 and now serves as the branch chief of the Flagstaff office. His prosecutions have focused on procurement fraud, white collar offenses and violent crimes occurring on northern Arizona Indian reservations. In addition, he served as the U.S. Attorney’s Office tribal liaison from 1995 to 1999.
From 1981 to 1989 he worked as a judge advocate general in the Army.
“Mr. Lodge is known as one of the finest prosecutors in the State of Arizona,” Brewer said n a prepared statement. “His legal experience and outstanding personal and professional reputation make him well qualified to be a Superior Court judge.”
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The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday, saying the controversial Arizona law enforcement official failed to cooperate with an investigation into allegations that his department singles out Hispanics.
The DOJ has pressured the Maricopa County sheriff since March 2009 to hand over documents as part of a probe into alleged unconstitutional searches and seizures, discrimination and English-only rules in his jails. Arpaio had until Aug. 17 to turn all over all records requested by the DOJ.
“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities.”
Robert Driscoll, the sheriff’s lawyer, declined immediate comment to the Associated Press. But Arpaio’s department previously said they were cooperating. But the sheriff’s office wouldn’t submit records about alleged unconstitutional searches to the DOJ because they said investigators weren’t clear about the scope of their probe.
Federal prosecutors in Arizona bring more cases than their counterparts in the other 93 U.S. Attorney’s offices, many of them related to immigration, according to a report released this week by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated 20,818 prosecutions between October 2009 to May 2010 — a 26 percent increase over the same period a year earlier and double the amount over the same time in fiscal 2008, according to the report by TRAC, a public interest group which compiles criminal justice data.
The numbers mean that prosecutors in Arizona filed almost one fifth of all federal cases, even though Arizona has only about two percent of the country’s population. The TRAC report did not provide statistics about the performance of any other U.S. Attorney’s office.
The statistics have political implications because the vast majority of the prosecutions, 84 percent, are related to immigration. The report does specify what types of immigration cases are brought in the district, but routine deportations are thought likely to comprise many of them.
The state has been a battleground over immigration. Republicans have slammed President Barack Obama and his administration’s efforts to combat illegal immigration, saying federal law enforcement authorities have failed to halt the flood of illegal entry in the U.S.
Dennis Burke, who has led the Phoenix-based U.S. Attorney’s office since September, told the Verde Independent that there are more prosecutions because his office has hired more prosecutors.
The office had 151 Assistant U.S. Attorney in March 2010 — a 36 percent increase from September 2005. The number of federal prosecutors across the country only increased by 9 percent over the same period.
“[My predecessors] just didn’t have the resources,” Burke told the newspaper.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into law earlier this year stringent legislation that would make it easier to prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department has won an order delaying implementation of the new law, citing constitutional and civil rights concerns. A federal judge in a preliminary injunction in July kept the most divisive parts of the legislation from taking effect.
A spokesman for the Arizona governor told the Verde Independent that the uptick of federal prosecutions in the state seems to suggest that border security is a bigger problem than it was in years past.
“These efforts to arrest and prosecute are good, but they are not enough,” Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman told the newspaper.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez on Monday defended a Justice Department’s lawsuit that seeks to preempt the enforcement of an Arizona law that critics say could lead to discrimination against Hispanics.
“Under our system of government, there is one quarterback and only one quarterback when it comes to issues of immigration, and that is the federal government,” Perez told an audience gathered for a American Constitution Society event in Washington D.C.
States getting involved in immigration could complicate the federal government’s operations in a number of areas, Perez said.
“You cannot have a system of 50 quarterbacks in the immigration system because immigration includes issues of law enforcement, it involves decisions with implications in foreign policy, it involves incidents with humanitarian implications, and you can’t have 50 states making immigration law and have a coherent system,” Perez said.
The law at issue allows authorities to question an individual if law enforcement officials have a “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally. It also criminalizes the “willful failure” to carry immigration documents. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit last week against Arizona and its governor, Republican Jan Brewer, seeking to invalidate the state’s immigration law on the grounds that it is preempted by federal immigration laws.
Justice Department lawyers traveled to Arizona to listen to what various group thought about the law before deciding to file the suit, Perez said.
“We didn’t simply sit here inside the beltway and figure out what was best for Arizona or what was constitutional under that circumstance, we went out and listened,” Perez said. “And it’s very noteworthy to me to see that officers who are on the front lines, police chiefs who are on the front lines, talk about how if you want to get smart on crime, you should focus on the most serious and violent criminals and you shouldn’t be focusing your first attention on the day laborers, and that’s precisely what this bill among other things does.”
In an interview with CBS that aired Sunday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department “wanted to go out with what we thought of our strongest initial argument and to focus on what we thought is the most serious problem with the law as it now exists.” He suggested that a second lawsuit which focused on racial profiling grounds could be possible if the first suit were to fail.
On Monday, Perez encouraged people to read the pleadings in the case.
“What you will find is not only are there declarations from federal officials in that case, but you’ll also find there are declarations from the police chief or Phoenix, the police chief of Tuscan, the police chief of Flagstaff, and the sheriff of… one of the counties that borders Mexico,” he said.
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft will campaign Thursday for his former Justice Department protege who went on to help write the controversial Arizona immigration law.
Kris Kobach, who advised Ashcroft on immigration and border security at the Justice Department, is running for Secretary of State in Kansas. He is a constitutional law professor at University of Missouri Kansas City and has been the architect of several immigration laws, including the recent Arizona law. President Barack Obama has criticized the law and the Justice Department is considering whether to challenge it in court.
Ashcroft will speak at two events Thursday on the topic “Defending America Against Radical Islamist Terrorism.”
“As my counsel at the Justice Department, Kris Kobach had a tremendous impact,” Ashcroft told radio station WIBW. “He saw what needed to be done, and succeeded in making dramatic reforms quickly. His service to his country in the wake of 9/11 was extraordinary. He is exactly the kind of person that Kansas needs in the Secretary of State’s office. He is a resourceful man of principle who will protect the integrity of the election process. And he knows how to cut red tape to bring new jobs to Kansas.”
Kris also has a $300-an-hour contract to teach sheriff’s deputies in Maricopa County, Arizona about immigration policy.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is also at the center of an ongoing investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.