United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Cindy K. Jorgenson United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 62)
filed by Defendants Barbara LaWall and Pima County
(collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff Theresa
Sheridan (“Sheridan”) has filed a Response (Doc.
66) and Defendants have filed a Reply (Doc. 69). Oral
argument has been requested. However, the issues are fully
presented in the briefs and the Court finds it would not be
assisted by oral argument. The Court declines to schedule
this matter for oral argument. LRCiv 7.2(f).
Factual and Procedural Background
August 6, 2007, Sheridan was hired to work as a deputy county
attorney at the Pima County Attorney's Office
(“PCAO”) on behalf of Pima County Attorney
Barbara LaWall (“LaWall”), Pima County, and the
State of Arizona. During all times relevant to this
litigation, LaWall was acting in her official capacity as an
employer within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(a).
hiring process required Sheridan undergo an in-person
interview with other PCAO personnel while completing
presentations before an assessment committee. Sheridan
testified during her deposition that she went through six
different levels of interview/presentations and that LaWall
Sheridan's time as a deputy county attorney, she
prosecuted hundreds of misdemeanor and felony crimes. She was
reassigned between misdemeanors and felonies during her
tenure at the PCAO. Sheridan asserts she was the
top-performing prosecutor in her unit in jury trial
convictions at the time of her dismissal.
Sheridan's time at the PCAO, she was assigned as the
prosecutor in State v. Marisela Gray
(“Gray”), CR20131845 (“Gray
case”) - a felony driving under the influence of
prescription drugs case. Defense counsel for Gray alleged -
through an April 2014 motion filing - that Sheridan had
obtained an unredacted prescription medication list for Gray
in February 2014. Specifically, it was claimed Sheridan
looked through documents in the work area of the Judicial
Assistant for Arizona Superior Court Judge Teresa Godoy
(“Judge Godoy”) and removed a non-redacted copy
of Gray's prescription records. This removal was despite
the law clerk/bailiff stating she was not comfortable with
Sheridan taking the documents; however, Sheridan indicated
she did not hear the comment of the law clerk/bailiff.
(Agreement for Discipline by Consent, Doc. 63-1, Ex. 15).
Shortly after the filing of the April 2014 motion, Sheridan
wrote a response to defendant's motion arguing no
prosecutorial misconduct had occurred. Further, on May 29,
2014 a week before the scheduled jury trial, Arizona Superior
Court Judge Teresa Godoy (“Judge Godoy”) held a
hearing in the Gray case regarding the allegations
hearing, Judge Godoy recognized that, based on the
state's response to the prosecutorial misconduct motion,
Sheridan would be required to be a witness; Judge Godoy
ordered that another prosecutor be present to represent the
state at the hearing. Further, at the end of the hearing, the
judge found Sheridan had committed intentional prosecutorial
misconduct and dismissed the Gray case with
prejudice. Specifically, that court stated:
THE COURT FINDS as follows:
1. Ms. Sheridan being told to return on Monday by this
Court's Law Clerk, as the item was not in the box and she
ignored the request to return on Monday.
2. Ms. Sheridan came into chambers and went to this
Court's Judicial Administrative Assistance [sic] desk and
removed an item. This Court's law clerk informed Ms.
Sheridan that she was uncomfortable with her removing the
item, but Ms. Sheridan ignored that statement and removed the
item anyway. The item removed by Ms. Sheridan were [sic]
privileged medical records that were un-redacted.
3. The envelope had to be opened and looked at as there is no
other way that Ms. Sheridan could have seen the contents as
the documents were sealed.
4. Ms. Sheridan never notified defense counsel of what
5. Ms. Sheridan also sent communications to chambers; this
Court's Judicial Administrative Assistant, about the
incident and did not copy defense counsel.
6. Avowing to the Court six separate times that she never
looked at the documents.
THE COURT FINDS that  all of these actions were done
intentionally on behalf of Ms. Sheridan and she made
conscious decisions about what she did each step of the way
and did so with indifference of the prejudice to the
* * * * * *
(Def. Statement of Facts, Doc. 63-1, Ex. 12).
same day, Sheridan met with her supervisor Ryan Schmidt,
LaWall and Amelia Cramer (“Cramer”), PCAO's
chief deputy county attorney. Sheridan was placed on
administrative leave with pay by LaWall via a hand delivered
letter from human resources signed by Cramer citing an
ongoing investigation into her conduct. After the hearing and
Sheridan's placement on administrative leave, the PCAO
elected not ...