Legal Briefs

Unexpected Discovery and Disclosure in the Stidham Murder


In a painfully obvious attempt to pander to Georgia Brousseau, chairwoman of Pima County's civil-service commission, County Attorney Barbara LaWall traced her professional career that she said began with a degree in English from the UA and a teaching job in TUSD. Brousseau, a lifelong educator and retired TUSD principal, presided over the lengthy appeals filed by three of the prosecutors LaWall disciplined. The other questioner is Wendy Petersen, a deputy county attorney who carried the enormous burden of LaWall's defense.

LaWall: (I) studied to become a high school teacher ... and I actually started teaching for TUSD and I remained a high school teacher for six years before I left to go to law school.

Petersen: Do you still have occasion to teach or lecture?

LaWall: I teach a lot. You know, the teacher in me has never gone away and I love teaching. I love being able to impart information to other people.

(The former English teacher's use of the language puzzled Brousseau and others. Brousseau consulted her dictionary after LaWall evaluated former prosecutor Brad Roach's sentiments about conflicts of interest in the prosecution of Dr. Brad Schwartz, the man accused of masterminding the murder of Dr. David Brian Stidham.)

LaWall: I found his explanation incredulous.

(Ditto for what former prosecutor Paul Skitzki offered as his justification for not immediately telling superiors what he knew from Schwartz's ex-fiancée, Lourdes Lopez, another former prosecutor.)

LaWall: I found it kind of incredulous.

(LaWall's use of the word "insidious," to describe the Lopez clique of lawyers swept up in the Stidham case, prompted Brousseau to halt a cross-examination.)

Brousseau: Let's get a definition of insidious out here on the table, because I am a little interested in exactly--there was a word that you were using yesterday that I went home and looked up, because I was thinking it was a different one.

LaWall: What was that?

Brousseau: Incredulous. I looked it up versus incredible, so let's find out what you are thinking when you say an "insidious relationship."

LaWall: Well, I mean totally intertwined in a way that is bizarre. I am not quite sure how I am using this word.

Brousseau: In those circumstances, it's best not to use it then.

LaWall: Yeah. Well, I meant totally intertwined in a very bizarre and unusual way that kind of--

Brousseau: Byzantine?

LaWall: Byzantine is a good word, and I am not quite sure how to define it. I'll go home and look it up tonight and make sure that I am using it correctly.

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