Court clerk’s removal from office raises legal questions

By Andrew Nicla | Arizona Capitol Times

It was a rough first year on the job for Cindy Woodman. The Graham County Superior Court clerk was in her first-ever role in the political arena, and some felt she was in over her head.

Cindy Woodman /Photo by Jon Johnson/Gila Herald

Within months after Woodman, a dental hygienist, took office, her critics said she created a hostile workplace environment, pushing some staffers to quit.

But among several alleged mistakes, her mishandling of evidence in a felony case was the final straw for many in the county, including Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael Peterson. He was so fed up with what he saw as incompetence that he compiled her mistakes and convinced the Arizona Supreme Court’s chief justice to effectively remove her from office.

Chief Justice Robert Brutinel’s administrative order on October 11 assigning administrative supervision of the clerk’s office to Petersen left some questioning the legality of the move.

On his new legal blog, attorney Kory Langhofer wrote that after reviewing all of the Arizona Supreme Court’s administrative orders since 1956, he and his team found “no historical precedent for the ‘administrative’ removal of another constitutional officer.”


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