Bill Montgomery Leads Herd of Prosecutors to Orpheum--Promises Good Things Ahead

Quite a sight yesterday afternoon in downtown Phoenix.

 

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​The entire workforce of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office--it numbers in the hundreds--took to the streets (Jefferson, to be exact) as one, and trooped north a block or two to the Orpheum Theatre for a big meeting,

It was new County Attorney Bill Montgomery's way of introducing himself to his new crew on his first full day on the job after taking over from interim County Attorney Rick Romley. 

 

We were busy chatting with our pal, Ed the Hotdogger at the time and didn't try to sneak into the show, instead relying on our myriad sources to suss things out for us. (That smiling fella in the photo, obviously, is downtown fixture and all-around good guy Eduardo Haramina.)

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You gotta understand, prosecutors and investigators generally are a cynical bunch by nature, but even more so for many who were present and accounted for during the disgraceful Andrew Peyton Thomas era,

Not that Andy didn't have his fans in the office beyond the obvious suspects including his chief deputy Phil McDonnell, eternal mouthpiece Barnett Lotstein, the frightening Lisa Aubuchon, the formerly respected Sally Wells, and a blogger-with-a-law-license whose name escapes us.

But Andy saw the time as ripe to move up the ladder to become Arizona Attorney General--it wasn't, by the proverbial fingernail--and he resigned to run against the ultimately victorious Tom Horne.

 

(Believe us when we predict we haven't seen the last of Thomas, either as a future political candidate, an indicted and/or disbarred defendant, or all of the above.)

As an aside, here's a link to our 200 profile of the Harvard Law grad, then on the cusp of assuming office as County Attorney. The name of the story, "Dangerous Mind," pretty much encompasses what we were getting at.

Montgomery seems a kindred spirit of Thomas's in many ways--he's deeply conservative, talks tough on illegal immigrants (which major elected official in Arizona doesn't these days), and is not going to mistake anyone for a civil libertarian.

But the reviews of the guy's speech yesterday to his new troops were uniformally positive.

"If he does what he says he's going do--and that's the right and ethical thing--then things will be okay," a veteran prosecutor told us afterward. "He talked about looking forward, to doing our jobs honestly and fairly, and let everything fall into place, stuff like that. I know--a politician. Rick [Romley] really set the stage for Bill to come in and turn this place around. We'll see."

One top-drawer move by Montgomery, a real coup, has been to convince former Superior Court Judge Jim Keppel to say on board as a high-level advisor.

Keppel is the former head of the criminal division who was a lead prosecutor on the famed AzScam case that involved several money-hungry legislators who broke all manner of laws. He later became a highly respected judge before retiring and returning to help Rick Romley try to clean up what was a dysfunctional, out-of-control office after Andy Thomas resigned.

Keppel's presence means a lot to us, and we hope it speaks volumes about Montgomery's true intentions.

  

 

 

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11 comments
Stacy
Stacy

Insiders who were there tell me that they had an uneasy feeling about this "Meet & Greet".

Questions were asked by MCAO staffers and Montgomery was very curt and short with his answers followed by "Next Question!"

Also, what irked many was when he presented his "Team" All were WHITE MEN. No Women.. No Minorities.

Yeah, things are looking pretty ugly at the MCAO.

Manning
Manning

When Montgomery was sworn in, there was a room full of local Police Chief's present to show their support. Montgomery said that he was going to work with Sheriff Joe, but never mentioned anything about wanting to work with the municipal law enforcement agencies. What a way to start Montgomery! Screw the local police departments, just make sure to acknowledge Sheriff Joe for paying for your victory.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Tommy,

There are a lot of reasons I would not vote for Monty in 2012. All he has to do is demonstrate that his ethics and integrity are suspect or for sale to lose my vote. I don't have a clue who might run against him at this point either in the Rep or Dem ticket. If Monty performs poorly, there will be Repubs out to challenge him. If he performs quite poorly, he should honestly watch out for the Libertarian vote. It was not insignificant in the Nov 2 election and could be a threat. I don't know who the Dems might put against him? Maybe Felicia? She has aspirations on the Phx based AG office this year. Monty did not get my vote in the primary because I find it difficult to vote for ANY candidate endorsed by the old man. For now, I like what he has said so far and I like the staff he is put in place. If Monty does most of what he says and keeps it clean and honest while aggressively prosecuting bad guys based on honest evidence, I think he will have my vote in 2012. Monty can lose my vote before 2012, but I guess I would need a better alternative and that looks like a fog for now.

A recurring nightmare, Andrew Thomas has his suspended bar license restored in March of 2012 and he runs for Maricopa County Attorney on the platform of "Bust All Brown People, Just in Case" That sort of rising Phoenix, I can do without.

pressguy
pressguy

And by the way, while Rick Romley was prosecuting AZScam, Mr. Montgomery was not yet an attorney.

Restore Justice
Restore Justice

The Maricopa County Attorney is the most powerful position in Arizona. When the chief attorney abuses their power it must be dealt with harshly. Former MCA Thomas bragged during the primary for AG about his 200,000 convictions (since Jan. 2005), and he's under investigation by the FBI and has dozens of Bar Complaints, this should concern the entire state and those who visit the state.

The alarming growth of convictions causing overcrowding in the courts, jails and prisons (leading to prison boom for the profiteers) --- this demands outside independent investigation, to open cases of those who may be innocent, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully imprisoned. Ray Krone can't possibly be the only innocent person exonerated and that was years ago.

How about wrongful convictions? 10% of the 200,000 = 20,000 people (a conservative estimate -- may be innocent). It's time for MCAO Montgomery to "right the wrongs" Thomas swept under the rug!

Andrew Thomas has destroyed many innocent lives during what can only be described as a reign of terror in Arizona. These convictions leave a legacy that will financially sink the state into a deeper abyss and has created a state few informed people would care to visit, invest in or reside. Arizona is a terrible place for families and children and the most vulnerable in society. Bottom of the nation in education, incarceration of women growing at an alarming rate -- #1 in the West, and a poverty state one notch above Mississippi. It's now up to MCAO Montgomery to restore fair justice. Arizona does NOT need more of the same.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

By the way Paul, are you being overly nice to Thomas for any particular reason?

:-)

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

I agree that Keppel is a great score. Montgomery's inexperience creates a need for good leadership on his part and solid advisors under him. That is very workable if he plays it right.

As of right now, Montgomery has my vote in 2012. However it is up to him whether I will vote for him when the time comes.

We shall see.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Gerry, since I haven't met Monty and know only what I've read about him I will follow your lead on this. However, in late 2010 we don't know who else might run as county attorney in 2012. He has to prove he isn't really a concubine for MCSO before I would consider voting for him. Following thomas should give him a decided advantage. It would be very difficult to be worse than thomas.

Restore Justice
Restore Justice

TommyC, Well said. The Thomas reign of terror has long lasting implications for the state, it's society and taxpayers (those who care about $$'s and not people). It's time for "smart on crime" NOT "tough on crime" a tired, failed mantra that has brought America, the "land of the free" to the brink. Few want to acknowledge this or even discuss it.

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