Maricopa County Supervisors Hear Appeal Of Assessor Paul Petersen's Suspension

By Matthew Casey
Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 9:36pm
Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 6:56am

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Kory Langhofer
Matthew Casey/KJZZ
Kory Langhofer, attorney for Paul Petersen, in court on Dec. 11, 2019.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors heard an appeal Wednesday of its decision to suspend Assessor Paul Petersen for 120 days without pay, but Petersen himself wasn’t in the room.

Hours were set aside for the hearing, but it took less than half the time allowed.

Attorney Kory Langhofer called two witnesses. He said he didn’t call a third because John Doran, the board’s lawyer, asked unfair questions that had nothing to do with whether Petersen neglected the assessor’s job.

“So what is [Doran]? Is he a prosecutor? Is he a judge? Is he representing a neutral body? Clearly he’s not representing a neutral body,” said Langhofer, after the hearing.

Petersen skipped the hearing to save his testimony for trials on charges that he ran an illegal adoption scam. Langhofer said Doran’s actions proved it a wise decision.    

“They would have tried to stray into criminal matters to make him look bad,” said Langhofer.

John Doran
Maricopa County
John Doran, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors attorney, at the hearing on Dec. 11, 2019.

Petersen’s second in command, the chief deputy assessor, testified that all of the office’s legal duties have been met since Petersen was arrested in early October. 

“The issue is whether or not Mr. Petersen was fulfilling his duties as an officer. Not whether the office was fulfilling its duties,” said Doran, after the hearing.

Chairman Bill Gates said the Board wants to see a final report from an outside probe of Petersen because it could impact the final decision on whether to lift the suspension.

“I can assure you the Board has every intention of issuing a report as soon as possible and there is no delay game,” said Doran.

Langhofer said Petersen will resign in exchange for nine months severance.

Doran said settlement talks aren’t currently happening.

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