SIERRA VISTA — The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is investigating complaints linked to the appointment of Justice of the Peace Pat Call to the county’s Justice Court in 2019.
The appointment was made last winter by Cochise County supervisors Ann English and Peggy Judd, after then-Justice of the Peace Timothy Dickerson became a Cochise County superior court judge.
Call was the third member of the Board of Supervisors at the time of the appointment, and naming him to the position has not been without controversy.
Two complaints have been filed against the Board of Supervisors — one of them by attorney Sandra Russell, the other by David Welch — claiming that the panel violated the state’s open meeting and conflict of interest laws when they named Call to the position last February.
“There are two investigations ongoing,” Katie Conner, a spokeswoman with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office wrote in an email to the Herald/Review earlier this week. “Back in 2019, we received an Open Meeting Law complaint from an anonymous person. This is ongoing with our civil department. Additionally, our criminal department is looking into the matter.”
Russell, who is vying to become a superior court judge in Division 5, said she received a call from Assistant Attorney General Matt Eklund this week informing her that her complaint remains under investigation. Russell’s husband Chris Russell, and another attorney, represent Welch.
Russell was also a juvenile prosecutor with the Cochise County State Attorney’s Office. She lost her job on Jan. 16.
On her Facebook page, Russell stated that she was retaliated against at her workplace after she filed the complaint: “I personally filed a formal criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Since that time, I have experienced a hostile work environment. Yesterday, I raised ethical issues presented regarding the county’s implementation of its new case management system for which no training was provided. As a result, my employment with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office has ended.”
State Attorney Brian McIntyre said in an email that he could not comment on personnel matters.
Chris Russell sent the Herald/Review an email referring to his wife’s termination and the complaint: “All we can say at this time is that Sandy was terminated on January 16, 2020. The County Attorney gave no basis/reason for her termination. Sandy knows the law and is committed to equal application of the law, and if she doesn’t know it, she figures it out. She is committed to ensuring everyone in the system is ethically represented. She is willing to stand up for what is right.
“We know that she did, at one point, file an AG complaint against the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, which raised issues with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office. We also know that at the time of her termination she was assisting with the implementation of a new case management software system. Sandy has been running for Judge since last spring. There are those, of course, that do not support her.”
Both Judd and English told the Herald/Review they could not comment on active complaints.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story mistakenly referred to Pat Call as the city's Justice of the Peace in the first paragraph. The Herald/Review regrets the error.