Aug 19, 2014 1:14 AM by Matthew Schwartz
TUCSON - According to sources, rulings made by Tucson Judge Anne Segal are being investigated by the Arizona Attorney General. After two sources told us about the investigation, it was confirmed by Doug Kooi, the Pima County Court Administrator. The AG is reviewing Segal's rulings in bad check cases, to see if she did not follow sentencing guidelines when imposing punishment.
We approached Judge Segal at the Oro Valley Public library as she left a public forum. The 61-year old Justice of the Peace, who makes $101,500 annually, is seeking re-election in a bitter primary on the Northwest side against attorney Adam Watters, whom she narrowly defeated in 2008.
We said to her, "I was told by the administrator of the courts that you told him you're being investigated." Judge Segal replied, "And I'm telling you I'm not being investigated. You're making up news that isn't there, I don't know what you're talking about."
A day earlier, Judge Segal declined an on-camera interview when we first asked about an investigation, saying she'd talk in September, after the primary, which is Aug. 26.
In an email to the News 4 Tucson investigators, Court Administrator Kooi wrote: "Judge Segal made me aware that the Attorney General's office is conducting an investigation related to some cases that were heard in her courtroom. She will be meeting with them sometime in August."
So although Segal apparently confirmed the investigation to Kooi, she repeatedly told us when we met her at the library, "I know of no investigation, and I am not being investigated. I am not being investigated by the Attorney General's office.
"My opponent cannot afford TV, so this is a good way to get adverse publicity."
We asked Judge Segal, "But Doug Kooi, who told me this, is the court administrator, he's not your opponent. Why would he tell me this?" She replied, "I have no idea why he would tell you that."
The day after this, Judge Segal complained to KVOA news management that our news crew was aggressive towards her. She also said she was meeting with someone in the Attorney General's office this month about bad check cases. Segal said she'd do a sit-down interview with our news director at the station. She postponed the first scheduled interview, citing a family emergency. She said she'd be there a week later, and failed to appear then.
This is not the first time Judge Segal's actions have been questioned, according to the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct in Phoenix.
She has had four public reprimands. I'm aware of one other judge that has had five.
George Riemer is the Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct. Riemer told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "She has had four public reprimands. I'm aware of one other judge that has had five."
Riemer says the only judge in Arizona with more reprimands than Segal is in Maricopa County.
"Four reprimands is a fairly large number," Riemer said.
-In June of 2010 Segal was reprimanded for interfering in her son's speeding ticket case. This followed a scathing letter from the complainant, Justice Court Presiding Judge Maria Felix, to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Felix wrote that Segal told her she was only trying to help her son out by lifting his license suspension. Felix said, "I told her as clearly as i could that this was unacceptable, and most of all, unethical of her for taking any action in her son's case." Felix wrote that Segal replied, "Well, report me." Felix also wrote, "I concluded that her continued actions were of grave ethical concern."
-Nov. 2010, Segal was reprimanded for using a fake name while criticizing Watters on a news web site.
-Dec. 2012, reprimanded after she self-reported that she represented herself and her husband in a case...full-time judges are not permitted to represent anyone other than themselves.
-Feb. 2013, reprimanded for violating six provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct in a case
Despite the official reprimands and the AG's investigation, Judge Segal calls criticism of her "political", coming from the Watters' campaign.
Segal told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "That's what this is all about, to get negative stuff on me in order to make them win the re-election for Justice of the Peace."
Riemer, of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, says, "And it's really up to the voters in this particular situation. For the voters to evaluate the credentials, the professional history of each of the candidates."
Late Monday afternoon, Judge Segal did come to the KVOA studios. She did an in-depth, sit-down interview with News 4 management, in which she explained her side of the story. We will have that report tonight (Tuesday) on News 4 Tucson, Live at 10.
Remember if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at email@example.com, or call 520-955-4444.
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