Florence Official's Response to Lawsuit by Filed by Former Police Detectives

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New Times' special report on Florence

Florence officials continue to deny allegations of corruption and abuse of power leveled against the town by two former detectives -- Walt Hunter and Jarris Varnrobinson.

The two police officers, who worked as detectives with the Florence Police Department until they were fired in December 2012, filed a suit in U.S. District Court claiming that they were wrongfully terminated in retaliation after they made "protected disclosures ... outside of their chain of command regarding police corruption, abuse of power, and obstruction of justice committed by the FPD and FPD officers."

Jess Knudsen, the town's spokesman and assistant manager, stated in an e-mail sent to members of the media, that "claims that Mr. Hunter and Mr. Vonzombie were fired for whistleblowing or that there is corruption in the Florence Police Department are unsubstantiated, frivolous and irresponsible."

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"Truthiness" and Right to Fib About Politicians Defended in Brief to U.S. Supreme Court

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A humorous brief to the U.S. Supreme Court filed last week invokes Stephen Colbert's concept of "truthiness" in a defense of the right to tell fibs about elected leaders.

Penned by lawyer Ilya Shapiro on behalf of the Cato Institute and satirist P.J. O'Rourke, the amicus brief, written to defend against an Ohio law criminalizing inaccurate political speech, was dubbed the "best ever" by the legal-minded website "Above the Law."

The oddball legal document defends lies as "a key part of political discourse," and hammers home the point with an early footnote stating that the filers, "their counsel, family members, and pets have all won the Congressional Medal of Honor."

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Maria Brandon, Fired County Lawyer, Awarded $638,147 in Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

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Maricopa County was ordered by a federal jury to pay $638,147 for retaliating against former county lawyer Maria Brandon after she commented to a newspaper.

See our previous article today for details on the case. The jury verdict, released minutes ago, rejects all of Brandon's claims except for two -- interference with an employment contract and violation of her First Amendment rights.

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Maria Brandon Trial: Catfight, Firing Detailed by Mark Faull, Bill Montgomery's No. 2 Man

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Image: Ray Stern
Jackie Garcia, a paralegal at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, reportedly told lawyer Maria Brandon in the office, "I'll (bleep)ing kick your ass."

Did top Maricopa County officials fire Maria Brandon, a longtime county lawyer, because she appeared to side with disgraced former sheriff's official Dave Hendershott in a newspaper article?

Or, as the county says, was Brandon fired solely because she instigated a catfight with a paralegal at the office in which the paralegal threatened to kick Brandon's butt?

A federal jury of five men and three women is deciding those questions today following a week of testimony from officials including County Attorney Bill Montgomery.


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Maria Brandon Testifies on Retaliation by Ex-Bosses at Maricopa County Attorney's Office

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Maria Brandon's federal wrongful-firing complaint is a messy leftover of years of infighting among Maricopa County officials.

But unlike lawsuits that have resulted in millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded settlement payouts to former county leaders and judges, this one's gone to trial.

The veteran lawyer accuses her former bosses at the County Attorney's Office of retaliating against and firing her in 2011, essentially because she was too good at her job defending Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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Tom Bullen, Ex-Marshal's Agent, Treated Lightly in Bad-Ethics Charge

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A former high-ranking Arizona U.S. Marshal's agent has had a criminal ethics-violation charge against him dropped and will enter a pretrial diversion program.

The move by the government on Thursday to let Bullen off the hook with light treatment came even as Bullen continues pressing a civil lawsuit against the Marshal's Service related to the same situation.

Bullen was indicted in October 2012 for allegedly violating a federal anti-corruption law in efforts to secure a job with the same private company he was in charge of overseeing.


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Arizona Loses Fight for Anti-Planned Parenthood Law in U.S. Ninth Circuit Court

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A court-ordered halt to an Arizona law that bans the state from contracting with organizations that provide abortions has been upheld by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court.

In a 32-page ruling, the appeals court makes ground beef of arguments by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Tom Betlach, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System director, that the law doesn't run afoul of Medicaid's freedom-of-choice requirement.


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Jerald Newman, Bloodied by Buckeye Cop in '11 at Walmart, Nets $30,000 in Settlement

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Jerald Newman just seconds after being slammed to the ground by a Buckeye cop at a Walmart on November 24, 2011.
Buckeye will pay $30,000 to police-brutality victim and California resident Jerald Newman in a much-publicized 2011 case of Black Friday mayhem at a Walmart.

The payoff is less than the $500,000 sought originally by Newman. But it still provides some justice in a case that saw the Maricopa County Attorney's fail to act on a state Department of Public safety recommendation of an assault charge against a cop.


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Chipotle Burrito Contained Piece of Metal, Which Was Swallowed, Lawsuit Claims

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Aranami via Flickr


A Phoenix-area resident claims he swallowed a piece of metal that was inside a burrito he purchased at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant.

According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Tyler Maiden, that piece of metal got stuck in his esophagus, and he "suffered serious, significant, and permanent injuries which required surgical intervention."

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Federico's Mexican Food Sued Over "Bloody Diarrhea Outbreak"

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Jeremy Noble via Flickr


Well, that didn't take long -- a lawsuit already has been filed against Federico's Mexican Food, which county health officials said was the source of a "bloody diarrhea outbreak" in the West Valley.

According to the latest count from Maricopa County Public Health, 33 people were sickened and 15 of those people landed in a hospital.

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