Steven LaMar, Cave Creek Councilman, Dumped as Lawyer for Maricopa County Amid Criticism in Mary Rose Wilcox Claim

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Image: http://fortheloveofcavecreek.blogspot.com
Steven LaMar, Cave Creek councilman and former attorney for Maricopa County defending against the Mary Rose Wilcox lawsuit.

Maricopa County has dumped Cave Creek Councilman Steven LaMar following his failure to convince a federal judge that a $975,000 payment to Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox might need further authorization.

LaMar was appointed to defend the county in late 2010 against the claims and subsequent lawsuits by county employees, former judges and Supervisors Wilcox and Don Stapley.

The lawsuits arose from the unethical actions of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in their politically motivated, incompetent attempted prosecutions of the officials on trumped-up charges. Thomas was disbarred last month along with one of his top lieutenants, Lisa Aubuchon, by the Arizona Supreme Court following a lengthy series of disciplinary hearings.

The new lawyers for Maricopa County in the lawsuits are Jeffrey Leonard, Sharon Shively, Helen Holden and Daniel Mestaz of the law firm of Sacks Tierney P.A.

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LaMar wouldn't elaborate on why he didn't argue in federal court that a state law concerning claims to County Supervisors applies in the Mary Rose Wilcox case.

In December of 2010, we predicted LaMar might take a dive on the case, considering that his career and possibly the Town of Cave Creek, which often has business before the Board of Supervisors, could suffer if he won the case -- a victory that would mean two of the five Supervisors wouldn't get the payout they sought. LaMar told us then he wouldn't try to please the Board of Supervisors and county leaders just to make them happy, something that in theory could help out his future business prospects.

For sure, his work up to this point has been lucrative. The firm to which he belongs, Beer & Toone, PC, earned $638,899 from the county from 2010 to April of 2012, the country reports.

The event that led to the replacement of LaMar took place earlier this month, when LaMar had a face-off with U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake.

LaMar argued during the hearing that a $975,000 settlement payment to Wilcox, which was approved by former County Manager David Smith, should be nixed. 

But LaMar mysteriously failed to argue that a state law about claims by Supervisors applied in the case, even though County Attorney Bill Montgomery said it did apply. The law, ARS 11-626, states plainly that claims by Supervisors must be approved by at least one Supervisor, who isn't the claimant, and the county treasurer.

It might be easy to assume that LaMar believes strongly that 11-626 doesn't apply, despite what Montgomery thinks.

Yet when reached last week, LaMar told New Times he wouldn't elaborate on why he didn't raise the issue of that law during a May 11 hearing in the case before Judge Wake.

"All I can say is, I argued the position that I thought were the best arguments for the county," LaMar said.

That is, he argued on numerous points as to why Wilcox shouldn't get the taxpayer-funded payment -- except the one that might have made the biggest difference.

As LaMar describes it, Wake asked him several times if he conceded that the law about Supervisors' claims did not apply. But LaMar said he would only answer that his other arguments on why Wilcox shouldn't get the payment made the issue of the "626" law irrelevant.

"The judge said, 'I'll take that as a concession,'" LaMar said.

Wake ordered that the county should pay Wilcox the money that Smith approved back in April.


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LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

Either LaMar is as incompetent as Candy Andy Thomas, or he simply was not aware of Arizona Revised Statute 11-626.

Either way, I think the state statute applies, especially since the notices of claim would be filed under ARS 12-821.01.

I'm glad my tax dollars are not being used to pay this guy.  

Truconserv
Truconserv

He was aware.  He was explicitly asked, by the judge, if he had an argument to make.

He demurred to the court's authority.

Ultimately, I'm not sure the judge got it wrong, and there is a legitimate strategy in not arguing losing points, as they only diminish the credibility of the other aspects of your case.

BM, however, had little choice but to let this guy go.  If BM is hanging his hat on 11-626, then he can't have as his attorney someone who disagrees.

In other words: nothing much to see here.

Royalphoenix2
Royalphoenix2

It is past time to vote EVERY republican and democrat out of office.  All of them smell of serious graft. peace

teknik1200
teknik1200

this whole schpeal is nothing but a conspiracy!

a conspiracy to keep lawyers' heads above water during the recession!

Lessthanstable
Lessthanstable

When do the elected stand for, and with those who elected them. Mary rose is like gum stuck on your shoe the more you try and clean it, the more of a mess it makes. She is slim.

teknik1200
teknik1200

I think Jho is the gum in this case.

AZ FAIL
AZ FAIL

Obviously you've never seen her.... "slim" she ain't. 

Lessthanstable
Lessthanstable

I've met her, I wanted to shower afterwards, just being polite.

Kcarson
Kcarson

Nice reporting.  It was disappointing not to have the issue fully briefed and argued, so I hope the interpleader is accepted.

It would be nice to gain some transparency into the settlement decision/ risk analysis. It might help people understand just how dangerous Arpaio is to our checkbooks.

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