Judicial Assistant Arrested In Ongoing Dispute With Bisbee Neighbor

justice court
(Photo by Tim Evanson/Creative Commons)

A Cochise County Superior Court judge’s judicial assistant must appear before a justice of the peace next month after being arrested in connection to a long-running dispute with a neighbor.

Lynelle Gae was cited May 22 by Bisbee Police Officer Tim Defoor on misdemeanor charges of criminal damage, criminal loitering, and public nuisance. She was released at the scene with a written notice to be at the Bisbee Justice Court on June 17 for an initial appearance hearing.

The police report from Friday’s arrest was not available on Tuesday, but public records show Yolanda Perez Moots is listed as the victim.

In October 2018, Gae called police in connection to clashes between her and Moots over a fence which separates the women’s residential properties. She then filed a civil action against Moots in Cochise County Superior Court for intentional tort.

“(Moots) continues to alter and damage the boundary fence between their properties by attaching objects to, leaning objects against, and wedging objects underneath the wire fence,” Gae’s lawsuit stated.

Read more by Terri Jo Neff >>

At the time, Gae worked for criminal defense attorney David Thorn but when Thorn was elected to the superior court bench in November 2018 she became his judicial administrative assistant (JAA). As JAA, she is responsible for scheduling proceedings in Thorn’s courtroom, reviewing court documents, and tracking cases to ensure they are acted on in a timely manner.

Then in October 2019, another Cochise County superior judge ordered Moots to remove “any and all objects” attached to, leaning on, or touching the wire fence, and to “cease and desist any and all actions that modify the existing wire boundary fence” in any way. The order also granted Gae permission to remove the item if Moots did not.

Despite last year’s order, additional conflicts have occurred between the women. It’s unclear whether Gae has retained counsel to represent her against the charges. She faces jail time and monetary fines if convicted but based on Gae’s lack of criminal history she would likely qualify for a diversion program that would avoid a criminal conviction.

In an interesting twist, Gae’s boss is married to Lori Zucco, the chief deputy in the criminal division of the Cochise County Attorney’s Office. Zucco is not usually involved in misdemeanor prosecutions and would have no reason to be involved in the Gae case, according to County Attorney Brian McIntyre.

“We will treat the matter the same we would any other misdemeanor case,” McIntyre told Arizona Daily Independent on Tuesday.