Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Times owners freed - prosecutor fired

By Libby

New developments in the story on the ongoing feud between Phoenix New Times owners and local Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The pair were arrested after publishing the contents of a grand jury subpoena that not only demanded information from the reporters but also ordered "New Times to produce computer records of every person who has visited the New Times Web site in the past four years."

With the egregiously overreaching subpoena hitting the national radar screen, the Sherrif's ally and protector has backed off and totally reversed course.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Friday afternoon that he was dismissing the case against New Times and that no charges would be pursued against the editors and writers involved in the case. Thomas also said he was dismissing special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, who had pursued the case on the county's behalf.

Thomas said that mistakes were made, that the case had been grossly mishandled and that he was uncomfortable with where the case had gone. He said he had only learned in the past day that a subpoena had been issued for Web site information from New Times. [...]

“It has become clear to me the investigation has gone in a direction I would not have authorized,” Thomas said.

Yeah. A little national attention to an obviously vindictive prosecution has a tendency to clarify things a lot. Chalk one up for Blogtopia. Without the bloggers, this one could easily have slipped under the radar. [hat tip]

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