The longtime attorney for the city of Tombstone has been ordered to stand trial early next year on several domestic violence felonies and now he may be facing new criminal charges after turning down two plea deals.
Paul “Randy” Bays was arrested in March after his ex-wife suffered a broken wrist during an incident partially captured on her cellphone. He has served as Tombstone’s city attorney since 1996 and specializes in family law through his private practice in Sierra Vista.
Bays, 60, also put himself forth as a candidate for two seats on the Cochise County Superior Court in 2018. However, he’ll be on the other side of the bench in March when he stands before a jury charged with seven felonies and one misdemeanor after formally rejecting two plea offers at an Oct. 28 hearing.
During the hearing, Judge James Marner of the Pima County Superior Court had Bays state on the record that he understood three of the felonies are designated as dangerous offenses which carry mandatory prison terms. Bays also stated he understood he faces nearly 50 years in prison if convicted on all eight counts and the judge orders each sentence served back to back.
Marner is presiding over the case because Bays currently represents several clients in Cochise County courts. Meanwhile the Cochise County Attorney’s Office handed off the case to special prosecutor Elizabeth Ortiz from Phoenix to avoid the appearance of any conflict. Bays is represented by attorney Joe DiRoberto.
Ortiz told Marner the first plea offer required Bays to plead guilty to a Class 4 felony that had the dangerous offense designation dropped. This would allow Bays to be placed on probation, but the former Marine Corps Judge Advocate would be a convicted felon.
The alternate plea offer required Bays to plead guilty to two Class 6 felonies and serve six years probation. The convictions would be reduced to misdemeanors upon successful completion of probation, Ortiz said.
Under both plea options, the state would be barred from filing criminal charges against Bays for incidents in June 2015 and September 2018. Ortiz didn’t describe the nature of the possible charges, but public records show the 2015 incident involved Bays and his then-wife at their home.
The 2018 incident occurred at Bays’ law office during which he got into a physical altercation with the ex-boyfriend of one of his clients. The police incident report notes Bays admitted that a document was shredded inside the law firm despite knowing an officer ordered the paper not be touched.
Bays’ ex-wife did not attend the hearing but agreed with the plea deals, according to Ortiz.
The rest of the Oct. 28 hearing involved trial details, such as whether the trial will be held in a Cochise County or Pima County courtroom. Marner ruled the trial will begin March 31 in Bisbee, likely with only 8 jurors, but noted DiRoberto plans to file motions for a 12-member jury trial in Pima County.