The judge in the criminal case against Sunroad executive Tom Story has delayed plans for a June 7 trial until at least November to accommodate the appeal City Attorney Mike Aguirre will file challenging his removal from the case.
Judge Michael Wellington granted Story’s request to disqualify Aguirre from prosecuting the case after the judge found the City Attorney’s Office to be too conflicted to allow Story a fair trial. The judge said Aguirre was improperly charging Story with lobbying violations to gain leverage in a civil lawsuit he filed against his employer, Sunroad Enterprises, for constructing a hazardous building near Montgomery Field airport.
Because Aguirre is appealing the ruling, the judge said he would delay all decisions on the case until a Nov. 5 hearing, which is presumably after the appellate court would make a decision.
One of those decisions, if Wellington’s decision is upheld, would be over which agency will take up the prosecution against Story.
As we reported yesterday, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed a letter with the court saying that it’s not her job to prosecute violations of the municipal code and that the city should appoint a special prosecutor. Her spokesman called later to say that Dumanis didn’t object to being the special prosecutor, as long as she was paid.
The city attorney took exception with Dumanis’ letter, saying it was an inappropriate because the district attorney didn’t have any legal authority to weigh in on that issue while the judge was still considering the case.
Aguirre started pressing Wellington at today’s hearing, asking whether he had read the letter before making his decision. The judge said he read it before signing the decision, but stressed that the letter “has nothing to do whatsoever with the recusal issue.”
Wellington also bristled at Aguirre, who wanted to question the judge about the case.
“I don’t propose to be cross-examined by you, Mr. Aguirre,” Wellington said.