“I believe in ETHICS in GOVERNMENT! Help me spread my message of transparency in government.*”
Amanda Stanford, Clerk of Pinal County Superior Court
“When the public trust is broken, we all suffer and Pinal County serves
as no safe harbor for corruption. With transparency and a dedication to
finding justice for the people of Arizona, my office holds all
individuals accountable for their crimes.”
Lando Voyles, Former Pinal County Attorney
Hempfling v. Stanford
* Spelling corrected from original donation page.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Federal Lawsuit Uncovers Government
Corruption in Arizona County Superior Court
In retaliation for political support of the former Superior Court Clerk’s reelection, newly elected Clerk of Court Amanda Stanford and Chief Deputy Lynn Hurley became self-appointed judges and declared an unfinished medical malpractice court case to be ‘over’. Then they decided the loser through criminal interference in a judicial proceeding, of an open civil case ALREADY under the dark shadow of criminal activity in the clerk’s office.
November 13, 2015 Apache Junction, PINAL COUNTY Arizona
“When the public trust is broken, we all suffer and
Pinal County serves as no safe harbor for corruption. With transparency
and a dedication to finding justice for the people of Arizona, my office
holds all individuals accountable for their crimes.”
A recent survey by California’s Chapman University found that Americans’ greatest fear is GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION1; while Pinal County Arizona’s long held reputation as the most corrupt county in the most corrupt state2 is secure.
Speaking in the Casa Grand Dispatch former Pinal County
Manager Fritz Behring, now Scottsdale City Manager “…
called Pinal County’s government ‘the most dysfunctional government I’ve ever worked for.’3″
The Dispatch reported that former Pinal County
Manager Stan Griffis “spent nearly three years in prison for numerous
convictions, including stealing more than $400,000 in highway
improvement funds from the county.3″ The laundry list is only the tip of this iceberg.
In 2009 The Phoenix New Times reported that the Pinal
County Recorder hired her daughter’s boyfriend, a convicted felon. He
allegedly began stealing checks submitted to the recorder’s office and
then turned them over to one of three accomplices as payment for drugs4.
In 2009 a Pinal County Superior Court bailiff was arrested for bribery and fixing cases.5
In 2011 Family Court Judge and Pinal County Family
Law Commissioner, Theresa Ratliff was arrested for domestic violence
among other things. Today, she is, still the Family Law Commissioner.
In 2011 the Superior Court was officially notified of an illegal scheme in the County Clerk’s office to fix a civil case.6
In 2012 a 40-year-old man tried to bribe
a Pinal County Deputy Court Clerk. He was subjected to a sting from the
Sheriff’s office and wound up arrested for trying it.7
Pinal County’s history is full of corruption and scandal.
It is no wonder then that in 2014 when Republican
primary voters were offered the opportunity to vote to ‘Bring ETHICS
back to GOVERNMENT’8, and were subjected to a litany of slanted local news articles they took the bait and chose a long time Democrat operant.
After being appointed to her position in the Clerk of Court’s office by two Democrat Clerks (Democrats do not appoint Republicans) Amanda Stanford’s last minute, miraculous conversion to Republican, placed her in a primary fight for the Clerk’s position. “GOVERNMENT must be honest stewards of the people’s money,” stated Stanford on her political donation page, “I believe in ETHICS in GOVERNMENT! Help me spread my message of transparency in goverment.8” She was elected by default as the Democrats didn’t have to bother offering a truthful candidate for the position they had held for many years prior.
It was not the first time Pinal County was subjected
to a variation of the Democrat tactic of switching parties. On June 26,
2012 the blog, Pinal County Politics, reported25 that
Stanford mouthpiece and supporter Tisha Castillo “had an apparent
miraculous change of heart and reregistered as a Republican at the last
minute to apply for the [Board of Supervisors] 2 seat vacated by Bryan
Martyn. That was caught by the PCRC, addressed with the BOS, and made
public in a press release.” The release was reported by the Southwest
As a personal blog publisher in Pinal County Castillo
went on to support fellow Democrat Stanford in her miraculous
conversion to Republican with “The last thing Pinal County Needs, is a
‘Chad’ in any of Our Records”27 which miraculously reappeared on SanTanValley.Com under the same title and has since been scrubbed.28
On May 8, 2014 the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce removed Castillo from her position as President of that
organization saying it was “time to go in a new direction.”29
Amanda Stanford’s first six months on the job as thePinal County Superior Court Clerk had been anything but ethical.
Stanford converted the Clerk’s office from the
steward of court records to a collection agency. Official policy was
established finally announced to the public during a Pinal County Board
of Supervisor’s financial budget meeting by Stanford’s chief Deputy Lynn
Hurley on April 15, 2015 making the focus of the Clerk’s Office;
enhancement of the county’s General Fund.
Upon Stanford’s arrival at the Clerk’s office she found it had been left in disarray. The San Tan Valley Sentinel reported that: “nearly $80,000 in random inventory was strewn all over the office9” as often happens when a politician is replaced. She quickly levied accusations of ‘untraceable inventory’ against former Clerk Chad Roche.9 “Roche, in an email to the Maricopa Monitor, said Stanford should have addressed the issue while in her former position with the department9. ‘Ms. Stanford was the bookkeeper and manager for three years,’ he said. ‘If there was an asset management problem, maybe she should have brought it up when it wasn’t politically motivated because she was in charge of the purchasing, and supervised the staff who would have been responsible for tracking assets.’9”
In-Maricopa reported how Stanford unleashed the power of her office to accuse the County Attorney Lando Voyles andformer Clerk (Chad Roche, her previous opponent) of illegal cover up. “‘A severe dereliction of duty’ is what Clerk of the Superior Court Amanda Stanford is calling a reported security breach that could impact hundreds of criminal cases in Pinal County. Stanford is alleging her predecessor, Chad Roche, gave the county attorney’s office access to files that had been sealed by the court.10
“Roche, meanwhile, hinted at politics. ‘The election
is over and Mrs. Stanford is now the clerk and I wish her the best but,
the most recent breach of sealed records happened after she took office
and fired the IT director,’ he said in a prepared statement that he said
would be his last on the subject. ‘Instead of trying to continuously
falsely allege wrongdoing under my administration (which she was a part
of for nearly the entire time) she should focus on correcting the issues
happening under her own administration.’10”
Her efforts and claims even garnered opinion from Tri
Valley Central that claimed, “Stanford, who previously worked in the
clerk’s office before running against her former boss, Roche, no doubt
has faced a backlash because of her efforts to expose wrongdoing. But
her work to shed light on some things should bring rewards to Pinal
residents in the form of improvements. Sunlight shining on government
operations almost always makes things better.” Said the editorial11.
The Phoenix New Times even declared the newly
elected Clerk had accomplished her goal: “Stanford, a GOPer, unseated an
incumbent in 2014 and has gone on to restore integrity to what was a badly-managed clerk’s office in Pinal County. She’s smart, savvy, and easily the most attractive woman in Arizona politics.12″ This, as they named her the Hottest Woman in Arizona Politics.
The Administrative Office of the Court (a branch of
the Arizona Supreme Court), upon official review of the cover up
allegations “found 6 percent of 732 criminal cases may have been
accessed by the County Attorney’s Office or the public access terminal
without proper authority. The instances of sensitive material being
exposed may have been as few as three cases.13″ Three cases.
There was no ‘cover up’. In fact, there was no ‘there’, there 14.
In-Maricopa quoted County Attorney Lando Voyles as saying: “‘I couldn’t imagine it could be true. And from what I know of the people who work there, I knew it couldn’t be true. There’s noreason for me to cheat the system.’10”
But then the Phoenix New Times went on to expose Stanford’s alleged on the job extracurricular activities15. Heather Ojeda accused Stanford of cheating with Ojeda’s husband. “Ramon Ojeda, Heather’s husband and alleged biting victim, agrees with his wife. He describes Stanford, a 30-year-old Republican politician who beat her formerboss in November’s election, as a temptress who made advances at him at work at the start of their two-and-a- half-month relationship.15”
Stanford denies it all16.
She never spoke to the press, but she did post on Facebook. “Her
statement leaves a few questions unanswered, such as why her phone
number appears to show up frequently on Ramon Ojeda’s phone records; his
wife texted us a few pages,15″ wrote the New Times. In the Facebook post Stanford blamed “Mrs. Ojeda’s” “own criminal behavior17”.
In the meantime, that 2011 Civil Superior Court case;
where the court had to be noticed of criminal behavior in the Clerk’s
office: remains unresolved. Four years after a criminal investigation
and prosecution should have commenced, the case is still without a final
judgment and still without a final order. There had been no activity in
the case since March 25, 2014 when Pro Tem Judge Bradley Soos filed a notice-order informing the parties that the Appeals Court had mandated the Special Action and stopping any additional hearings.
The Plaintiffs in that case, Apache Junction Arizona
seniors Suesie Hempfling (62) and Lee Hempfling (63) on social security
retirement have patiently been attempting to receive answers as to why
their case is still pending.
The malpractice civil case was witnessed as a
default, by a Deputy Clerk. Originally assigned to Superior Court Judge
Boyd T. Johnson, the case was re-assigned to Judge Bradley M. Soos on May 3rd of 2012, as Judge Johnson was immediately removed from all civil cases.
For four years there has
been no known prosecution. No arrests. The civil case remains open
without an issued final judgment and without an issued final order.
On March 25th 2014 a draft
order was placed on the docket. On April 02, 2014 Former Pinal County
Clerk of Court Chad Roche stated: “Once the final order is completed and
signed the draft will be deleted and replaced with the actual order.”
On July 21, 2014 Jeffrey P. Handler, Clerk of the
Court of Appeals Division Two stated: “…this court’s mandate issued
March 10, 2014, and constituted the final order as far as the special
action which arose from your case. I assume that since only the special
action was decided, the “final order” in the case must await further proceedings in the trial court…”
There have been no further proceedings in the trial court. Roche’s correspondence was copied to Stanford.
Roche, whom the Hempflings had supported in the
Republican Primary for Clerk in 2014, and Jeffrey Handler, Clerk of the
Appeals Court Second Division had professionally and ethically responded
to queries and been as helpful as they could. But when Mrs. Hempfling
wrote to the new Clerk, Amanda Stanford everything was different.
At first Stanford did not respond. When she did, it was 20 days later and no questions were answered at all. Mrs. Hempfling pressed her for a response, attaching copies of Chad Roche’s informative correspondence.
The result was reprehensible. Stanford and her Chief Deputy Lynn Hurley attacked. They had decided the civil case was finished. Something a Judge had not done. They imposed a definition on
the case that did not apply, they declared the case
was closed and no further orders would be issued. They claimed the
Appeals Court Mandate was on the case itself, not the Special Action and
they illegally imposed Debt Set Off, Tax Intercept Collection
proceedings against the Hempflings (both, separately) for filing fees.
They did that at least twice.
“Perhaps your difficulty lies in not understanding a
few legal terms and I will take this opportunity to help you and guide
you in your understanding. An ‘adjudicated’ case means that it is
finished. It is closed. There are no further actions, motions, findings
or rulings on an adjudicated matter.18″ If any ‘adjudication’ exists it has never been released, served or signed by a judge overseeing the case.
The Arizona Code Of Conduct for Judicial Employees
indicates that a deputy clerk is permitted to provide assistance to
Litigants (C) [to] explain legal terms, [but] without providing legal
interpretations by applying legal terms and concepts to specific facts19.
Amanda Stanford and Lynn Hurley, blatantly violated that rule. “As you
can see, all that remains is the portion of your payback to the court
for fees incurred. Your balance is $686.00.”
A deputy clerk told Lee Hempfling on the phone after
receipt of Hurley’s email that the internal accounting records showed
Lee Hempfling as PAID IN FULL (the clerk was indeed perplexed but it
totally explains how the
clerk’s office’s internal accounting system did not previously identify the Hempflings as owing anything).
The Superior Court Case is in default. That means the
Hempflings shall recover all costs expended or incurred from the losing
parties.21 It is the law.
This blatant misuse of authority, under the color of
state law, is facilitated by the more than 19 month delay in the release
of the final order-ruling in the civil case this is in
regards to, the over FOUR year period since serious crimes were reported
to have occurred in the Clerk’s office, without any known prosecution:
and is blatant disregard for the law, the written instructions and
essentially written testimony of the previous elected Clerk of Court and
the Appeals Clerk of Court.
In the Federal lawsuit, the Hempflings claim that
Amanda Stanford, Clerk of the Superior Court and Chief Deputy Lynn
Hurley acted under the color of law, through violation of law, rules,
and regulations to willfully cause to be deprived the rights of
Plaintiffs under the Fourteenth Amendment’s rights to equal protection
and due process under the law and to the rights to protection of
property through the Fifth Amendment not to have private property be
taken for public use or deprived of private property without due process
of law and the rights to be secure from unreasonable seizures afforded
by the 4th Amendment18 19. The clerks appointing themselves judges is interference in a judicial proceeding.
The Hempflings are Plaintiffs in an open and ongoing
action in Pinal County Superior Court. They identified and reported
criminal illegal activity within the Pinal County Superior Court Clerk’s
office while both Stanford and Hurley were employees thereof; and they
publicly supported the re-election of the prior Clerk of Court. The Hempflings claim Stanford and Hurley retaliated for
those associations and totally ignored the statements of Roche about the case.
On November 10, 2015 a law suit18 was
filed in The United States District Court for The District Of Arizona,
against Amanda Stanford and Lynn Hurley for 42 U.S. Code § 1983 – Civil
Action for Deprivation Of Rights ‘Under the color of state law’: for
willful abuse of position, violation of rules and law and interference
in a judicial proceeding.
“This matter is serious,” said Lee Hempfling.
Amanda Stanford (who touts herself as restoring
ethics to the office) and Lynn Hurley, acting under the color of law
have misused their official positions to inflict malicious retaliation
and punishment17, claim the Hempflings.
Stanford declared, “I believe in ETHICS in GOVERNMENT! Help me spread my message of transparency in government8,20.”
Criminal behavior in the Clerk’s office remains
unresolved. Four years after a criminal investigation and prosecution
should have commenced, the case is still without an issued and public
final judgment or order and no one has been brought to justice for the
crimes committed in the clerk’s office in 2011.
The Hempflings say they have had enough and that corruption of this nature cannot be tolerated in any elected office.
The law suit demands a very minor monetary award and equitable relief.
In what appears to be Amanda Stanford’s standard
defensive procedure, after being notified that she will be sued for
serious violations of ethics and law she posted the following on her
Facebook Page on July 25,
2015 (after she was also just sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU):
“Did you know that my staff are not only bound by every
Policy and Procedure within Pinal County
http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/…/Pages/PoliciesProcedure Rule� but also –
and JUST AS IMPORTANTLY – every one of our team members is bound by the
Judicial Code of Conduct. I am going to upload a copy of this governing
set of rules. For one thing, being a judicial employee means that we
take on the very special burden of maintaining comportment becoming of a
judicial employee 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s a little
different than most policies, but this added level of accountability and
responsibility allows you to feel more confident about who works with
your sensitive documents. What do you expect of a judicial employee? Do
you expect them to uphold the law in their personal lives? I do. Please
read this code for yourself….I hope that it gives you greater
confidence in the team at the COSC (Clerk of the Superior Court). If you
are ever given less than excellent service, please let me know
IMMEDIATELY. Our Mission and Vision aren’t just words….they are words
we live by.”
“I am still laughing at the little girl’s claim.” Said Mrs. Hempfling.
PRESS RELEASE REFERENCES:
1 Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles announcing the arrest of City of Maricopa Police Detective Jose Lizarraga in 2013.
2 In December of 2014, the Harvard University Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics released the http://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/measuring-illegal- and-legal-corruption-american-states-some-results-safra Corruption in America Survey. “Arizona is perceived to be the most corrupt state with legislative and executive branches both scoring 4.” Illegal corruption is perceived to be ‘very common’ in Arizona. Illegal corruption in Arizona’s Judicial Branch is perceived to be “slightly common”. Legal Corruption is perceived to be “slightly common” in Arizona’s Judicial Branch as well.
3 http://www.trivalleycentral.com/casa_grande_dispatch/area_news/behring -pinal-has-history-of-corruption/article_bf9666c0-7781-11e2-ba99- 001a4bcf887a.html
4 http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/pinal-county-recorder-under- scrutiny-for-hiring-daughters-boyfriend-he-used-position-for-id-theft- cops-say-6646338
5 http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/07/15/20090715abrk- bailiffarrested.html
6 No charges have been made public in this case, no one arrested four years later.
7 http://www.fox10tv.com/story/17284615/az-man-tries-to-bribe-to-court- clerk-via-email
9 http://www.trivalleycentral.com/san_tan_valley_sentinel/county_news/cl erk-inventory-untraceable-under-roche/article_9502be8e-cc36-11e4-9962- 4b63de03b87b.html
11 http://www.trivalleycentral.com/opinion/our_view/editorial-access-to- court-files/article_3e8125be-ffd5-11e4-8d32-1f38cdd0b26a.html
12 http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/top-10-hottest-women-in-arizona- politics-6643033
13 http://www.inmaricopa.com/Article/2015/07/10/court-audit-shows- limited-security-breach-of-files
14 AOC Concludes Audit of the Clerk of Court http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/CountyAttorney/Pages/Article.aspx?myID=13 8
15 http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/woman-blames-amanda-stanford- pinal-county-superior-court-clerk-for-husbands-affair-6633443
16 http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/amanda-stanford-pinal-county- superior-court-clerk-denies-allegation-of-affair-6661559
17 Well, this is Pinal County. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu issued a press release on 9/13/2013 entitled Criminals for Hire? In it, Heather Marie Ojeda is identified: “When asked if she has ever committed a felony she said ‘no.’ When asked if she had ever committed a criminal offense involving dishonesty, theft, unlawful sexual conduct or physical violence she said, ‘No.’ Her record shows she has multiple arrests and convictions for battery, retail theft and traffic related offenses. Chicago Police Department has a “Caution” warning for law enforcement when dealing with her.
18 Hempfling v. Stanford, United States District Court for the District of Arizona 2:15-cv-02268-DJH
19 RULE 2.6 Assistance to Litigants A judicial employee shall assist litigants to access the courts by providing prompt and courteous customer service and accurate information consistent with the employee’s responsibilities and knowledge and the court’s resources and procedures while remaining neutral and impartial and avoiding the unauthorized practice of law. Employees are authorized to provide the following assistance: (C) Explain legal terms, without providing legal interpretations by applying legal terms and concepts to specific facts;
20 Spelling has been corrected for use in this quotation.
21 Arizona Revised Statutes 12-341. Recovery of costs: The successful party to a civil action shall recover from his adversary all costs expended or incurred therein unless otherwise provided by law.
22 Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2810. Interfering with judicial proceedings: A 2. Disobeys or resists the lawful order, process or other mandate of a court; and 4. Publishes a false or grossly inaccurate report of a court proceeding; B. Interfering with judicial proceedings is a class 1 misdemeanor.
24 All photographs are in the public domain from the Facebook accounts of Amanda Stanford.
25 “While applying for appointment as a Republican and then successfully filing to run for election as a Republican Ms. Castillo remained a [Democratic Precinct Committeeman]. As a matter of fact she was a [Democratic Precinct Committeeman] until June 20, almost two months after her filing for a Republican Appointment, as is readily found on the BOS consent agenda for June 20.” http://pinalpolitics.blogspot.com/2012/06/pinals-democratrepublican- candidate.html
26 “Pinal County Politics is getting interesting. Long time democrat and activist Tisha Castillo has switched to the republican party in order to get an appointment to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. A vacancy on the board came about last month with Bryan Martyn resigning to work for the Arizona state parks. Tisha Castillo widely known throughout Pinal County as an opportunist has added her name to the
list of persons to a possible appointment. Tisha has
ties to the current board chairman Pete Rios who is also under
investigation for not living in the district he was elected to
represent. A lawsuit is pending to have Rios removed from office.” http://www.southwestbordersheriffs.com/2012/05/democratic-activist- tisha-castillo.html
HEMPFLING V. STANFORD