In late May, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling in the matter of former Attorney General Tom Horne and Kathleen Winn brought by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. The justices ruled in favor of Horne and Winn and remanded the case to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for a final disposition.
Due to an obvious conflict, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office sent the case to Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre for resolution.
The Supreme Court justices had found that Polk denied Horne and Winn due process. Polk may have also violated their civil rights.
Polk, a political enemy of Horne, rejected an Administrative Law judge’s ruling that found Winn to be credible. Polk rejected that finding despite the fact that a decision of credibility is clearly and uniquely within the discretion of the judge hearing the matter and not the prosecutor.
A finding that Winn was credible would have completely unwound Polk’s case that Horne and Winn coordinated campaign efforts in violation of state law.
The Administrative Law Judge heard the testimony and the evidence. The judge not only found that Winn was credible but also found that the County Attorney’s principal witness, FBI Agent Grehoski, offered false testimony.
Horne and Winn had filed an appeal in the Arizona Supreme Court of the controversial Court of Appeals ruling that essentially found that a prosecutor can act as judge in a case they are prosecuting.
Attorneys Dennis Wilenchik and Tim LaSota representing Horne and Winn specifically asked the Court: “can a County Attorney, who was personally “involved with the prosecution of the case, by assisting with the preparation and strategy,” personally overrule a decision of an Administrative Law Judge against her, so that by her own decision she wins the case that she had lost before the Administrative Law Judge?”
At issue is the allegation by Polk that Winn and her organization, Business Leaders for Arizona (BLA), coordinated political expenditures with Horne, then a candidate for attorney general.
Polk admitted in documents that she “was involved with the prosecution of the case, by assisting with the preparation and strategy.”
Polk overruled the Administrative Law Judge, according to the attorneys, “so that she would win the case that she had lost, as someone participating in advocacy, before the Administrative Law Judge.”
“This Kafkaesque process is unbecoming of a free society and cannot be permitted in Arizona,” wrote attorney Paul Avelar of Polk’s actions in the Institute for Justice’s amicus curiae brief in support of Horne and Winn.