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Pima County Superior Court Judge John Leonardo Retires!

Obama Nominates to be US Attorney for Arizona

A Great Victory for The People?

In a quiet announcement on the court reporter's blog, the AZ Daily Star noted that Tucson Judge John Leonardo was retiring today.  This is sudden, and comes on the heels of Shawna Forde's appeal which finds fault with his conduct during the trial, saying "at every step, he gave improper instructions to the jury."  That's just the tip of the iceberg of things he did wrong!  

Leonardo just denied Jason Bush's appeals attorney, Carla Ryan, sufficient funds to hire another attorney and a paralegal to help prepare his death penalty appeal.  In her motion to the AZ Supreme Court asking for an extension of time, Ryan states that ABA rules require TWO attorneys for a death penalty appeal, and that it is unfair to deny her client the services of a second attorney and paralegal, especially when Shawna Forde has four attorneys and two paralegals working for her!  Will Ryan now be able to appeal the unjust decision of Leonardo since he is no longer a player?  In the interest of justice, I certainly hope so!  Word is Ryan's the best of the best down Tucson way, but she's entitled to adequate resources to mount a proper appeal.

Leonardo presided over some high profile cases, including the trials of the three defendants in the Arivaca Massacre:  Shawna Forde, Jason Bush, and Albert Gaxiola.  He was also hand-picked to torpedo the Maricopa County Attorney's corruption cases against Supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley in 2010.  Attorneys Andrew Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon are still feeling the flak from making enemies in high places as the AZ Bar attempts to disbar them.

In March of last year, Arizonans for Justice filed a judicial complaint against John Leonardo.  No official disciplinary action was taken.  Could it be, however, that due to a cumulative revelation that "the emperor has no clothes" some pressure from above was put on Leonardo to retire?  I've been told by those in the know that judges are never disciplined; they are merely "encouraged" to retire.  


Leonardo has done more unconstitutional things as well.  He recently allowed a coerced confession by a minor to be admitted into evidence.  The teenager had been awake for 3 days with little sleep, on drugs, and had been shivering because he didn't have enough clothing on.  The Rules of Evidence say that coerced or drug-influenced confessions cannot be admitted.  Police are also not allowed to question a minor suspect without a parent's consent, and this was not given.  (Sleep deprivation is a well-known technique used to extract confessions in gulags, Communist POW camps, and concentration camps.)

It's been speculated that BO wants Leonardo in the US Attorney position to conduct a white-washed "investigation" into the disastrous ATF "Fast and Furious" program.  One thing for sure:  you can always count on John Leonardo to take the government's side, right or wrong, because he's their boy.  Come back in a bit for our action plan to stop his confirmation by the Senate!