FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Federal Lawsuit Uncovers Government
Corruption in Arizona County Superior Court
In retaliation for political support of the former Superior Court
Clerk's reelection, newly elected Clerk of Court Amanda Stanford and Chief Deputy Lynn Hurley became
November 13, 2015 Apache Junction, PINAL COUNTY Arizona
"When the public trust is broken, we all suffer and Pinal County serves as no safe harbor for corruption. With transparency and a dedication to finding justice for the people of Arizona, my office holds all individuals accountable for their crimes."
A recent survey by California's Chapman University found that Americans' greatest fear is GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION1; while Pinal County Arizona's long held reputation as the most corrupt county in the most corrupt state2 is secure.
Speaking in the Casa Grand Dispatch former Pinal County
Manager Fritz Behring, now Scottsdale City Manager "...
called Pinal County's government 'the most dysfunctional government I've ever worked for.'3"
The Dispatch reported that former Pinal County Manager Stan Griffis "spent nearly three years in prison for numerous convictions, including stealing more than $400,000 in highway improvement funds from the county.3" The laundry list is only the tip of this iceberg.
In 2009 The Phoenix New Times reported that the Pinal County Recorder hired her daughter's boyfriend, a convicted felon. He allegedly began stealing checks submitted to the recorder's office and then turned them over to one of three accomplices as payment for drugs4.
In 2009 a Pinal County Superior Court bailiff was arrested for bribery and fixing cases.5
In 2011 Family Court Judge and Pinal County Family Law Commissioner, Theresa Ratliff was arrested for domestic violence among other things. Today, she is, still the Family Law Commissioner.
In 2011 the Superior Court was officially notified of an illegal scheme in the County Clerk's office to fix a civil case.6
In 2012 a
Pinal County's history is full of corruption and scandal.
It is no wonder then that in 2014 when Republican primary voters were offered the opportunity to vote to 'Bring ETHICS back to GOVERNMENT'8, and were subjected to a litany of slanted local news articles they took the bait and chose a long time Democrat operant.
After being appointed to her position in the Clerk of Court's office by two
Democrat Clerks (Democrats do not appoint Republicans) Amanda Stanford's last minute, miraculous conversion to Republican, placed her in a primary fight for the Clerk's position. "GOVERNMENT must be honest stewards of the people's money," stated Stanford on her political donation page, "I believe in ETHICS in GOVERNMENT! Help me spread my message of transparency in goverment.8" She was elected by default as the Democrats didn't have to bother offering a truthful candidate for the position they had
held for many years prior.
It was not the first time Pinal County was subjected to a variation of the Democrat tactic of switching parties. On June 26, 2012 the blog, Pinal County Politics, reported25 that Stanford mouthpiece and supporter Tisha Castillo "had an apparent miraculous change of heart and reregistered as a Republican at the last minute to apply for the [Board of Supervisors] 2 seat vacated by Bryan Martyn. That was caught by the PCRC, addressed with the BOS, and made public in a press release." The release was reported by the Southwest Border Sheriffs26.
As a personal blog publisher in Pinal County Castillo went on to support fellow Democrat Stanford in her miraculous conversion to Republican with "The last thing Pinal County Needs, is a 'Chad' in any of Our Records"27 which miraculously reappeared on SanTanValley.Com under the same title and has since been scrubbed.28
On May 8, 2014 the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce removed Castillo from her position as President of that
organization saying it was "time to go in a new direction."29
Amanda Stanford's first six months on the job as the
Pinal County Superior Court Clerk had been anything but ethical.
Stanford converted the Clerk's office from the steward of court records to a collection agency. Official policy was established finally announced to the public during a Pinal County Board of Supervisor's financial budget meeting by Stanford's chief Deputy Lynn Hurley on April 15, 2015 making the focus of the Clerk's Office; enhancement of the county's General Fund.
Upon Stanford's arrival at the Clerk's office she found it had been left in disarray. The San Tan Valley Sentinel reported that: "nearly $80,000 in random inventory was strewn all over the office9" as often happens when a politician is replaced. She quickly levied accusations of
'untraceable inventory' against former Clerk Chad Roche.9 "Roche, in an email to the Maricopa Monitor, said Stanford should have addressed the issue while in her former position with the department9. 'Ms. Stanford was the bookkeeper and manager for
three years,' he said. 'If there was an asset management problem, maybe she should have brought it up when it wasn't politically motivated because she was in charge of the purchasing, and supervised the staff who would have been responsible for tracking assets.'9"
former Clerk (Chad Roche, her previous opponent) of illegal cover up. "'A severe dereliction of duty' is what Clerk of the Superior Court Amanda Stanford is calling a reported security breach that could impact hundreds of criminal cases in Pinal County. Stanford is alleging her predecessor, Chad Roche, gave the county attorney's office access to files that had been sealed by the court.10"
"Roche, meanwhile, hinted at politics. 'The election is over and Mrs. Stanford is now the clerk and I wish her the best but, the most recent breach of sealed records happened after she took office and fired the IT director,' he said in a prepared statement that he said would be his last on the subject. 'Instead of trying to continuously falsely allege wrongdoing under my administration (which she was a part of for nearly the entire time) she should focus on correcting the issues happening under her own administration.'10"
Her efforts and claims even garnered opinion from Tri Valley Central that claimed, "Stanford, who previously worked in the clerk's office before running against her former boss, Roche, no doubt has faced a backlash because of her efforts to expose wrongdoing. But her work to shed light on some things should bring rewards to Pinal residents in the form of improvements. Sunlight shining on government operations almost always makes things better." Said the editorial11.
The Phoenix New Times even declared the newly elected Clerk had accomplished her goal: "Stanford, a GOPer, unseated an incumbent in 2014 and has gone on to restore integrity to what was a
The Administrative Office of the Court (a branch of the Arizona Supreme Court), upon official review of the cover up allegations "found 6 percent of 732 criminal cases may have been accessed by the County Attorney's Office or the public access terminal without proper authority. The instances of sensitive material being exposed may have been as few as three cases.13" Three cases.
There was no 'cover up'. In fact, there was no 'there', there14.
reason for me to cheat the system.'10"
But then the Phoenix New Times went on to expose Stanford's alleged on the job extracurricular activities15. Heather Ojeda accused Stanford of cheating with Ojeda's husband. "Ramon Ojeda, Heather's husband and alleged biting victim, agrees with his wife. He describes Stanford, a
boss in November's election, as a temptress who made advances at him at work at the start of their
Stanford denies it all16. She never spoke to the press, but she did post on Facebook. "Her statement leaves a few questions unanswered, such as why her phone number appears to show up frequently on Ramon Ojeda's phone records; his wife texted us a few pages,15" wrote the New Times. In the Facebook post Stanford blamed "Mrs. Ojeda's" "own criminal behavior17".
In the meantime, that 2011 Civil Superior Court case; where the court had to be noticed of criminal behavior in the Clerk's office: remains unresolved. Four years after a criminal investigation and prosecution should have commenced, the case is still without a final judgment and still without a final order. There had been no activity in the case since March 25, 2014 when Pro Tem Judge Bradley Soos filed a
The Plaintiffs in that case, Apache Junction Arizona seniors Suesie Hempfling (62) and Lee Hempfling (63) on social security retirement have patiently been attempting to receive answers as to why their case is still pending.
The malpractice civil case was witnessed as a default, by a Deputy Clerk. Originally assigned to Superior Court Judge Boyd T. Johnson, the case was
For four years there has been no known prosecution. No arrests. The civil case remains open without an issued final judgment and without an issued final order.
On March 25th 2014 a draft order was placed on the docket. On April 02, 2014 Former Pinal County Clerk of Court Chad Roche stated: "Once the final order is completed and
signed the draft will be deleted and replaced with the actual order."
On July 21, 2014 Jeffrey P. Handler, Clerk of the Court of Appeals Division Two stated: "...this court's mandate issued March 10, 2014, and constituted the final order as far as the special action which arose from your case. I assume that since only the special action was decided, the "final order" in the case must await further proceedings in the trial court..."
There have been no further proceedings in the trial court. Roche's correspondence was copied to Stanford.
Roche, whom the Hempflings had supported in the Republican Primary for Clerk in 2014, and Jeffrey Handler, Clerk of the Appeals Court Second Division had professionally and ethically responded to queries and been as helpful as they could. But when Mrs. Hempfling wrote to the new Clerk, Amanda Stanford everything was different.
At first Stanford did not respond. When she did, it was 20 days later and no questions were answered at all. Mrs. Hempfling pressed her for a response, attaching copies of Chad Roche's
The result was reprehensible. Stanford and her Chief Deputy Lynn Hurley attacked. They had decided the civil case was finished. Something a Judge had not done. They imposed a definition on
the case that did not apply, they declared the case was closed and no further orders would be issued. They claimed the Appeals Court Mandate was on the case itself, not the Special Action and they illegally imposed Debt Set Off, Tax Intercept Collection proceedings against the Hempflings (both, separately) for filing fees. They did that at least twice.
"Perhaps your difficulty lies in not understanding a few legal terms and I will take this opportunity to help you and guide you in your understanding. An 'adjudicated' case means that it is finished. It is closed. There are no further actions, motions, findings or rulings on an adjudicated matter.18" If any 'adjudication' exists it has never been released, served or signed by a judge overseeing the case.
The Arizona Code Of Conduct for Judicial Employees indicates that a deputy clerk is permitted to provide assistance to Litigants (C) [to] explain legal terms, [but] without providing legal interpretations by applying legal terms and concepts to specific facts19. Amanda Stanford and Lynn Hurley, blatantly violated that rule. "As you can see, all that remains is the portion of your payback to the court for fees incurred. Your balance is $686.00."
A deputy clerk told Lee Hempfling on the phone after receipt of Hurley's email that the internal accounting records showed Lee Hempfling as PAID IN FULL (the clerk was indeed perplexed but it totally explains how the
clerk's office's internal accounting system did not previously identify the Hempflings as owing anything).
The Superior Court Case is in default. That means the Hempflings shall recover all costs expended or incurred from the losing parties.21 It is the law.
This blatant misuse of authority, under the color of state law, is facilitated by the more than 19 month delay in the release of the final
In the Federal lawsuit, the Hempflings claim that Amanda Stanford, Clerk of the Superior Court and Chief Deputy Lynn Hurley acted under the color of law, through violation of law, rules, and regulations to willfully cause to be deprived the rights of Plaintiffs under the Fourteenth Amendment's rights to equal protection and due process under the law and to the rights to protection of property through the Fifth Amendment not to have private property be taken for public use or deprived of private property without due process of law and the rights to be secure from unreasonable seizures afforded by the 4th Amendment18 19. The clerks appointing themselves judges is interference in a judicial proceeding.
The Hempflings are Plaintiffs in an open and ongoing action in Pinal County Superior Court. They identified and reported criminal illegal activity within the Pinal County Superior Court Clerk's office while both Stanford and Hurley were employees thereof; and they publicly supported the
those associations and totally ignored the statements of Roche about the case.
On November 10, 2015 a law suit18 was filed in The United States District Court for The District Of Arizona, against Amanda Stanford and Lynn Hurley for 42 U.S. Code § 1983 - Civil Action for Deprivation Of Rights 'Under the color of state law': for willful abuse of position, violation of rules and law and interference in a judicial proceeding.
"This matter is serious," said Lee Hempfling.
Amanda Stanford (who touts herself as restoring ethics to the office) and Lynn Hurley, acting under the color of law have misused their official positions to inflict malicious retaliation and punishment17, claim the Hempflings.
Stanford declared, "I believe in ETHICS in GOVERNMENT! Help me spread my message of transparency in government8,20."
Criminal behavior in the Clerk's office remains unresolved. Four years after a criminal investigation and prosecution should have commenced, the case is still without an issued and public final judgment or order and no one has been brought to justice for the crimes committed in the clerk's office in 2011.
The Hempflings say they have had enough and that corruption of this nature cannot be tolerated in any elected office.
The law suit demands a very minor monetary award and equitable relief.
In what appears to be Amanda Stanford's standard defensive procedure, after being notified that she will be sued for serious violations of ethics and law she posted the following on her Facebook Page on July 25,
2015 (after she was also just sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU):
"Did you know that my staff are not only bound by every
Policy and Procedure within Pinal County http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/.../Pages/PoliciesProcedure Rule… but also - and JUST AS IMPORTANTLY - every one of our team members is bound by the Judicial Code of Conduct. I am going to upload a copy of this governing set of rules. For one thing, being a judicial employee means that we take on the very special burden of maintaining comportment becoming of a judicial employee 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That's a little different than most policies, but this added level of accountability and responsibility allows you to feel more confident about who works with your sensitive documents. What do you expect of a judicial employee? Do you expect them to uphold the law in their personal lives? I do. Please read this code for yourself....I hope that it gives you greater confidence in the team at the COSC (Clerk of the Superior Court). If you are ever given less than excellent service, please let me know IMMEDIATELY. Our Mission and Vision aren't just words....they are words we live by."
"I am still laughing at the little girl's claim." Said Mrs. Hempfling.
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This press release in full form, most references; contact information and the law suit itself are available online at http://pinalcosc.us
PRESS RELEASE REFERENCES:
1Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles announcing the arrest of City of Maricopa Police Detective Jose Lizarraga in 2013.
2In December of 2014, the Harvard University Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics released the
6No charges have been made public in this case, no one arrested four years later.
14AOC Concludes Audit of the Clerk of Court http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/CountyAttorney/Pages/Article.aspx?myID=13 8
17Well, this is Pinal County. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu issued a press release on 9/13/2013 entitled Criminals for Hire? In it, Heather Marie Ojeda is identified: "When asked if she has ever committed a felony she said 'no.' When asked if she had ever committed a criminal offense involving dishonesty, theft, unlawful sexual conduct or physical violence she said, 'No.' Her record shows she has multiple arrests and convictions for battery, retail theft and traffic related offenses. Chicago Police Department has a "Caution" warning for law enforcement when dealing with her.
18Hempfling v. Stanford, United States District Court for the District of Arizona
19RULE 2.6 Assistance to Litigants A judicial employee shall assist litigants to access the courts by providing prompt and courteous customer service and accurate information consistent with the employee's responsibilities and knowledge and the court's resources and procedures while remaining neutral and impartial and avoiding the unauthorized practice of law. Employees are authorized to provide the following assistance: (C) Explain legal terms, without providing legal interpretations by applying legal terms and concepts to specific facts;
20Spelling has been corrected for use in this quotation.
21Arizona Revised Statutes
22Arizona Revised Statutes
24All photographs are in the public domain from the Facebook accounts of Amanda Stanford.
25"While applying for appointment as a Republican and then successfully filing to run for election as a Republican Ms. Castillo remained a [Democratic Precinct Committeeman]. As a matter of fact she was a [Democratic Precinct Committeeman] until June 20, almost two months after her filing for a Republican Appointment, as is readily found on the BOS consent agenda for June 20."
26"Pinal County Politics is getting interesting. Long time democrat and activist Tisha Castillo has switched to the republican party in order to get an appointment to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. A vacancy on the board came about last month with Bryan Martyn resigning to work for the Arizona state parks. Tisha Castillo widely known throughout Pinal County as an opportunist has added her name to the
list of persons to a possible appointment. Tisha has ties to the current board chairman Pete Rios who is also under investigation for not living in the district he was elected to represent. A lawsuit is pending to have Rios removed from office."
HEMPFLING V. STANFORD
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