Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Legal is legal, political is...

State Rep. Daniel Patterson's wife, Jeneiene Schaffer filed a complaint in December 2010 against Pima County Superior Court Commissioner Margaret Maxwell.  Commissioner Maxwell had conducted temporary orders hearings in October and November in Schaffer's divorce case against Patterson.

The Judicial Conduct Commission no doubt receives many complaints from divorcing spouses who believe they've gotten a raw deal.  So, why would this one be any different? Read the letter issued by the Commission.

The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct did something about it.  In case the image of the document is too small to read, here's what it says:
The complainant alleged that a superior court commissioner made erroneous decisions and improperly considered political affiliations in resolving divorce and custody issues. The commission reviewed the complaint and the response and decided to issue a private warning to the commissioner. By taking certain actions, the commissioner appeared to have a personal interest in the case which gave the impression that the court was biased. Rule 1.2 requires a judge to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
According to the complaint, at the first hearing, just days before the 2010 general election, Maxwell told attorneys for both Schaffer and Patterson, in her chambers, that she is a Democrat and was concerned that the litigation would jeopardize Patterson's re-election bid.  By the way, Schaffer is no longer represented by that attorney.

At temporary orders hearings, generally child support orders are issued.  Maxwell delayed more than two months before issuing support orders.  Maxwell also dismissed the Order of Protection that had been issued against Patterson. 

Most people, I suspect, who have been through divorce in Arizona know that when a woman, in a divorce petition, details domestic violence incidents she is generally given the benefit of the doubt.  Maxwell apparently gave Patterson the benefit of something in this situation.

Is the Commission's "private warning" a strong rebuke?  Even though the letter states that the Commission's order may not be used to disqualify the judge, Commissioner Maxwell today recused herself from this case.

It's now late March 2011 and there is still no evidence that Patterson is complying with support orders issued in January.

It's time for Daniel Patterson to man up and take care of his financial obligations to his family.

And if he doesn't do so -- STAT -- Democrats in Arizona should do something (political) about it.


Apparently, Patterson has made a child support payment for March 2011.  I understand he is still in arrears for two months.  Schaffer's unemployment benefits ran out some time ago. For Patterson to be two months in arrears (not to mention the two months that he was allowed to skip when Commissioner Maxwell just didn't issue the child support order), it's really still a very big problem.


  1. Patterson needs to pay up or step down (or be removed and replaced). It's his call at this point in time. Man up and do the right thing or face the consequences of his misguided irresponsible behavior which is affecting his young daughter. I'm tired of politicians who think they are above the law.

  2. Diane D'AngeloMarch 24, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    He needs to step down. Period. His constituents deserve better, the activists -- you know the ones who actually do the hard work -- in the Democratic party deserve better, and Arizona deserves better. The party continues to look the other way, despite the domestic violence, despite the failed drug tests, despite Patterson not even living in his legislative district for almost a year. Why? In the Arizona Guardian article, Chad Campbell said he didn't know about the situation until just recently. That is untrue. He was told last summer and replied, "I can't make Daniel Patterson be a good person."

    One would think that as our state circles the drain under a Republican super majority at the State Capital, the Dems might at least take the moral high ground. There are any number of qualified individuals who could take Patterson's seat. I'm waiting. And watching.

  3. I have spoken with House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. He says he has spoken with Patterson about the situation. There really isn't anything else he can do at this point. But he (Campbell) is concerned about the situation and if anything changes, he said he'd let me know.

  4. Glad that Rep Campbell is on it - and aware that others are paying attention. Thanks for dogging this down. No one should have to walk on eggshells before our political leaders: no one is above the law.

  5. Diane D'AngeloMarch 24, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    I had an email conversation with Chad today. He does not recall making the statement above, but said that if he did say it, it was in regard to Patterson's divorce - apparently not domestic violence or Patterson's not living in his own legislative district.

    That said, so he talked to Patterson. What does THAT mean? So what? What exactly transpired in that conversation? Do you really think that will accomplish anything? C'mon. There is plenty of evidence that Patterson exploited his political office (and his party affiliation) to avoid responsibility for his behavior.

    In the meantime, you have a legislator who has been enabled by the Chair of the Pima County Dems who told people not to talk about this issue, a judge who flat out stated she would do nothing to endanger a Democratic legislative seat and Patterson's wife who has been unable to find work after surviving a double mastectomy and is about to be evicted from her home, all after putting up with his domestic abuse. I remain stunned at how quickly folks are willing to walk away from this.

  6. Hi,
    In 2009 I contacted US Department of Justice and filed a complaint identifying that there was corruption within the Pima County Superior Court – Family Court Div. I named Deborah Ward, Michael Cruikshank, and Nannette Warner as members of a corrupt organization operating in a public funded position. All three had been removed from their judicial position within two weeks of my complaint to the Justice Department. I have further written to the Justice department regarding new retaliation from Commissioner Maxwell and Judge Kyle Bryson who have used Democrat values and political view points to interpret what was right and wrong in determining what constitutes a stable environment for a 5 year old child. Commissioner Maxwell stated that she did not feel that my ex had a unstable environment even with my ex wife moving 5 times and living with strangers and allowing access to a registered child sex offender over the past two year. Commissioner Maxwell and Judge Kyle Bryson filed a ruling ordering 50/50 visitation. Get this, my ex lost our daughter at 8pm on 11/12/2011 Plice report 1111120725 and somehow our daughter did not no that getting into a vehicle with a stranger is bad! I would say my daughter getting into a strangers vehicle is the fault of commissioner Maxwell and Judge Bryson who stated in a ruling that there was nothing wrong with the my ex moving around with living with strangers 5 times…so this is not only my ex’s fault but the courts fault! My legislator reviewed my case docket and stated that Maxwell and Bryson ARE using the judicial position to neglect the law and imposing their own political agenda. So word to you all, especially fathers, (who are attacked the most) contact the US Justice Department – Criminal Div. Trust me they will do something about this nonsense!