Legal Briefs

Unexpected Discovery and Disclosure in the Stidham Murder


It's safe to assume Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall won't displace David Stern as commissioner of the NBA.

LaWall recalled the Pacers-Pistons brawl when testifying about why she fired Paul Skitzki and disciplined Nicki DiCampli and Brad Roach for what she says they knew about Dr. Brad Schwartz's alleged plans to have Dr. David Brian Stidham killed.

She mischaracterizes how Ron Artest, the Indiana Pacers star, got bounced--by the NBA, not his team--for the season. The Pacers, Artest and the players' union objected to the length of the suspension. An arbiter refused to reduce the suspension, but the county Merit Commission awarded DiCampli and Roach full back pay and wiped out their suspensions when they appealed.

LaWall, April 19: I took into consideration the fact that Mr. Roach had been a contributing member of the office; that he had been trusted with some high-profile cases, and I basically made a decision that I think that, to use a sports analogy that some coaches make: Do you want to keep this player on your team, or do you just want to bench him? So I took a look at the conduct of these three individuals, and I made a decision that Mr. Skitzki should no longer be a player on my team. ... I did not feel that way about Mr. Roach and Ms. DiCampli, although I had initially decided that I was going to terminate them.

Later on April 19, LaWall testified: You know, going back to the metaphor of coaching again, you know, sometimes coaches put people out of the game for a long period of time, and it costs them a lot of money, you know, they may not be able to play for the rest of the season. I believe Ron Artest was suspended, and it cost him $5 million, but he was still considered somebody they wanted on the team as a player. And so I suspended Brad Roach for three weeks. ... I didn't take him off the team.

LaWall, on April 20, went back to the Pacers-Pistons fight and encountered Skitzki's lawyer, Chip Plowman, a basketball official who knew more than she did.

LaWall: And I will go back to that terrible incident with the Indiana Pacers where they went into the stands and had the fight.

Plowman: (It happened) Nov. 19, 2004.

LaWall: And one of the players was asked by the media, "Were you told that you didn't have to go into the stands?" And he said, "No, nobody told us that we were not supposed to go into the stands."

Plowman: But it is a written policy (that players cannot enter the stands) and, well, if you want to get their player conduct rules in.

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