Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Maricopa supervisors planning for in-house law firm

PHOENIX — A judge has denied a request by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for a temporary restraining order that would prevent county supervisors from starting an in-house law firm.

The Board of Supervisors voted Monday to take $528,000 from County Attorney Andrew Thomas’s budget so that it could establish its own civil litigation department and sidestep Thomas on civil matters.

Thomas maintains that under state statute, he is the board’s attorney of record. But the board claims that he has too many conflicts of interest with it.

Thomas asked for a temporary restraining order until a court could hear arguments from both sides; they are already locked in a lawsuit over whether the supervisors can hire outside attorneys without consulting with Thomas.

A county judge ruled Thursday that there was no clear-cut evidence that Thomas would prevail over the supervisors in the spat or that irreparable damage would occur if the restraining order were denied.

Tom Irvine, a private attorney representing the supervisors on the matter, said the county is proceeding with its plans to set up the office.

Another court hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 6.

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