Judge Baca smacks down Dennis Wilenchik and the County Attorney's office in the case of the New Times grand jury subpoenas.
Dennis Wilenchik, taken to the woodshed by Judge Anna Baca.
As she promised in court on Monday, November 26, Judge Anna Baca yesterday reiterated in a detailed minute entry that former special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik botched the subpoena-issuance in the New Times case and did not follow the requirements of the statute involved.
Specifically, Baca ruled,
”THE COURT FINDS that the subpoenas issued in 430 GJ 97 were not validly issued. The special prosecutor did not comply with the requirements for issuing grand jury subpoenas without the prior authorization of the grand jury. Specifically, the special prosecutor failed to notify the foreman of the grand jury of the issuance of two of the subpoenas, and failed to notify the presiding judge of the issuance of all four subpoenas.”
Indeed, Baca's interpretation of the law and Wilenchik's failure to comply with it in the New Times case paralleled my understanding of both.
"Under A.R.S. § 13-4071(B)(2)," wrote Baca, "The county attorney can obtain a grand jury subpoena when authorized by the grand jury or requested to do so by the grand jury. However, when the grand jury has not authorized the subpoena, the county attorney can only obtain a grand jury subpoena pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-4071(C), and must comply with all four of the requirements of that subsection including notification to the foreman of the grand jury and to the presiding judge."
You can read Judge Baca's ruling in its entirety, here
So, not only were Wilenchik's subpoenas to New Times overbroad, they were invalid from the beginning of this sordid mess. Wilenchik assumed the mantle of the grand jury, and apparently believed he was the grand jury. Kinda like a super hero (or super villain) with super prosecutorial powers. And maybe green death rays that flow from his fingertips, and a leotard and matching cape. But I digress.
In general, Baca's ruling was matter-of-fact, pointing out where Wilenchik and the County Attorney went off course, and ordering that the new documents provided by Chief Assistant County Attorney Sally Wolfgang Wells should be kept in the unsealed grand jury file.
But where is the sanction for Wilenchik overriding the law and doing as he pleased? And why does County Attorney Andrew Thomas continue to employ Wilenchik in a number of lucrative civil matters for the county ($2 million worth and counting)? Will the AZ Bar step in, with possible censure or disbarment, for the egregious trampling of the rights of this paper, its readers and its owners?
In other words, the final act of Wilenchik's adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third has yet to play out. Stay tuned to the Feathered Bastard for more gripping legal drama, as the Wilenchik, and the worm, turns...
For more on this item, please read Monday's post, "Judge Baca says Dennis Wilenchik did not comply with law; some docs still missing from New Times grand jury file."