Letter Contained False Accusations

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Editor:

I was surprised and dismayed to read a letter to the editor in the April 3 Payson Roundup that alleged, "In Gila County's recent history, a judge sitting on the bench was found to be in possession of cocaine. He was required to go to rehabilitation and the charges were expunged. The judge was given another chance."

It does not appear that the allegations of this letter have any basis in the truth. As a member of the state bar and one who regularly appears before our local judiciary, such an unsubstantiated accusation is offensive and demeans our entire system.

In the over five years that I have served as Gila County Attorney, my office has never received a criminal referral from law enforcement alleging criminal drug abuse by any of our superior court judges, judges pro tem, court commissioners or justices of the peace.

I have consulted with a prior county attorney and local law enforcement leaders to determine whether they are aware of anything that might give some validity to the claim contained in the letter to the editor.

Simply, there is no information that would substantiate this allegation against any judge in Gila County.

Perhaps the author of the letter is confusing some event that happened in another county or state, but I am not aware of any of our sitting or prior judges being found to be in possession of cocaine, being required to go to rehabilitation or having any criminal charges expunged. The author of the letter indicated a family member was not given a second chance after violating probation, which led her to question, "Is justice only for those who are in a position of authority?" There were many facts justifying the sentence the author's brother received; however, those facts were presented in the proper forum of the court and need not be given in detail here.

We all agree that justice must be blind. What is just for one must be just for all. At the County Attorney's Office, as well as at our local law enforcement agencies, we seek to serve justice without preference or prejudice.

The author's frustration with the system is evident. Sadly, a common consequence of criminal conduct is not only injury to the victims of the crime, but also injury to the family of those convicted of crimes who suffer through the incarceration of their loved ones. It appears this is the tragedy that occurred for the author of the letter.

While I can appreciate the author's position, I am also sure we can all agree that it is not fair or just to any of our sitting judges to make such a bald accusation, when it is, in fact, not true.

Daisy Flores, Gila County Attorney

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