Pima County Attorney’s Numbers Questioned

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and former Supervisor Dan Eckstrom

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall appears to have a problem with numbers and controversy is building around claims made about her office’s conviction rate. While the LaWall touts a 91.9 percent conviction rate; the actual figure is 45.5 percent according to her Democrat Primary challenger Joel Feinman.

Not only does LaWall’s challenger have concerns about her number problems, questions have arisen as to just how she uses the vast numbers of RICO dollars that pass through her office.

This week, Feinman advised constituents that a thorough review was conducted of every felony case the Pima County Attorney Office took under LaWall’s leadership in fiscal year 2014 – 2015. That review of Pima County Superior Court data shows that the Pima County Attorney took a mere 220 cases to jury trial on new felony charges. Of those 220 cases:

• 100 cases, or 45.5% resulted in a verdict of guilty on all charges.
• 58 cases, or 24.4% resulted in a verdict of not guilty on all charges.

Clearly, the numbers run contrary to the claim of 91.9 percent she advertises on billboards as part of her 2016 re-election bid, and the 85 percent conviction rate she testified to in front of the Pima County Board of Supervisors on April 19, 2016.

In a message to constituents, Feinman called the conviction rate “shockingly low.” Feinman stated, “The last thing we need is to send more people to prison, and a 45.5% true conviction rate shows that the County Attorney is taking cases to trial that should never have gone to trial in the first place.”

Feinman claims that the low conviction rate “demonstrates a deep-set dysfunction in the leadership of the Pima County Attorney’s office. We can either shrug off that dysfunction and continue to pay for it with wasted tax dollars and ruined lives, or we can make a change.”


Residents say that another thing that has to change is the use of RICO funds. Currently it appears based on a review of expenses available through OpenBooks.az.gov; LaWall uses RICO funds to supplement office expenses.

RICO expert Aaron Ludwig, Managing Director of The Counterracketeering Group, says that there is an inherent conflict of interest in using RICO funds for employee related expenses (ERE). Ludwig advises that RICO money shared from the federal government can only be used for employee related expenses (ERE) in very limited situations. “As such, I’ve always advised that fed-shared RICO money may not be used for ERE. Furthermore, since fed-shared RICO can’t be used for ERE, I’ve always advised that state RICO may not be used for ERE.”

Ludwig’s position, which is embraced by civil libertarians, runs contrary to the current Arizona Attorney General’s view. The State claims that, because statutes allow RICO funds to be used to investigate and prosecute racketeering crimes, it’s okay to spend them on police and prosecutor ERE.

The conflict of interest exists because ERE includes salary and benefits and thus, it is in a police officer’s and/or prosecutor’s personal, economic interest to confiscate property.

The fact that LaWall’s conviction rate is woefully low and the use of confiscated funds is remarkably high raises questions as to her priorities. The alleged abuse of RICO funds by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has made headlines, while LaWall’s abuses have largely gone unnoticed and unchallenged.

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  1. There has been a Superior court filing about thirty days ago against the Arizona Department of Health marijuana program. The allegations are that certain Statutes have been misrepresented by the AZDH, and that Barbara LaWall figures predominately in the case as it is alleged that LaWall misrepresented the Statutes in a number of medical marijuana cases such as Matlock, Gille, Catlin, etc. and they were sent to prison due to her misrepresentations in court, followed by no objections from certain Public Defenders. The Veterans group filing the action, will be asking the AZ Bar Association for her license to be revoked.

  2. Have to imagine someone has filed a formal ethics complaint with the AZ Bar Association and its national counterparts, for starters? Lying about cases rates? The AZ Supreme Court would be VERY interested, as they oversee the case throughput that rolls to the national reporting 9there are national case standards)…and the Pima Board of Supervisors is where with this? Also – They are required to get a readout from the County Attorney monthly/quarterly on the RICO before it is reported to the AG. Push-back begins at home. Actions, not bellyaching will solve it – all while she turns it all into “campaign issue naysayers”. How Babeu’ish and Voylesy of her.

  3. Stop Nano’s paycheck right now. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Hopefully Joel Feinman will take out LaWall in the primary. LaWall is too busy doing Huckleberry’s work suing Goldwater Institute. How many lawyers are in her office? Way too many I suspect. It’s way past time to wake up folks. Get up off our butts and start working.

  4. Why doesn’t /Chuckleberry suspend Nanoose without pay while he is running for Sheriff. It isn’t like he was elected. As I recall Nanos is following the long held tradition of the retiring sheriff (no cap intentional) holding office until the board is required to appoint so the next #$%&@ so he can run as an incumbent.

  5. Just more of the same here in Pima County. No accountability of anyone ever including department heads. Once you are in, you are in for life. Just look at Dupnik. A prime example of incompetence at its finest and now Nanos wants to continue that fine tradition too. Will do exactly what Chuckey tells him to do.

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