Tom Story, the Sunroad vice president who was charged with nine misdemeanor counts of violating the city’s lobbying laws, is attempting to disqualify City Attorney Mike Aguirre from performing the criminal prosecution.
(Click here or scroll down to read more about the charges Aguirre filed.)
Pamela Naughton, Story’s attorney, said Aguirre breached an ethical rule by mixing his civil litigation against Sunroad with a criminal investigation into Story. She said that Aguirre began threatening Story and other officers at Sunroad with criminal charges shortly after his office sued the company for allegedly piercing a federally created height limit for buildings near the airport. Pursuit of the criminal case is an abuse of power, Naughton said, because Aguirre could leverage the threat of charges to intimidate Sunroad into settling the civil lawsuit.
Naughton also argued that the city attorney is barred from bringing the charges because the criticisms he has leveled against Sunroad and Story, a former chief of staff to former Mayor Dick Murphy, an Aguirre foe, demonstrate that he is biased and cannot proceed “evenhandedly.”
“Public attorneys are held to a higher ethical standard, which we believe this city attorney has fallen far short of,” she said.
Naughton also alleged that Aguirre had committed his own criminal act by pursuing a search warrant maliciously and without probable cause
Aguirre declined to comment on Story’s complaint beyond a broad denial. “There’s no basis for a disqualification,” he said. “This is typical for a defense lawyer to try to attack the prosecutor.”
If Aguirre was disqualified from the criminal case, it is unclear whether the case would be continued by a prosecutor in another agency, or if the charges would be dropped as a result.
You can read the complaint here.
A hearing on the motion to disqualify Aguirre will be held April 30 at 8:15 a.m.