Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Cindy Woodman addresses the attendees of the monthly meeting of the Graham County Republican Party Committee. Woodman is expected to resign Monday following an ultimatum from the Arizona Supreme Court.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Maligned Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court Cindy Woodman is expected to issue her official letter of resignation Monday after being pressured to do so by Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel.
Brutinel reportedly met with Woodman on Friday and issued an ultimatum that she either resign or face multiple charges regarding her handling of evidence in the case against Manuel Campos and the possibility of her committing perjury during questioning about it while under oath. If she resigns, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey will be tasked with appointing Woodman’s replacement.
During a July hearing, defense attorney Daisy Flores accused Woodman of giving false statements during her testimony earlier in the day at an evidentiary hearing for Manuel Campos, 38, who faces numerous felony charges regarding a Jan. 31 incident in which Campos allegedly broke into a residence at 3589 W. Main St. The charges include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, two counts of robbery, two counts of burglary, and disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon. In an unrelated case, Campos has also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault resulting in disfigurement, two counts of assault discharging a firearm at a residence, three counts of disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon, and three counts of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor in the case regarding the December 2017 shooting of Gary Don Hess.
Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson had previously found Woodman had committed a violation regarding evidence in the Campos trial by insisting Thatcher Sgt. Kevin West take back the evidence in the Thatcher case after the initial trial regarding possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor. Sgt. West testified under oath that he twice informed Woodman that the evidence needed to stay with the court but that Woodman insisted he take it back. He then removed the evidence from the court and stored it in the Thatcher Police Department’s vault.
Woodman testified that at that time she didn’t know the evidence had to be maintained by the court and said she only moved it out of a concern for the security of where it had been stored. In August, Campos was sentenced to 12 years in prison for possession of a deadly weapon but the two other trials are still outstanding.
A recall petition was previously filed against Woodman on Sept. 3 and had until January 2020 to gather 2,697 signatures. The recall effort was filed by The Committee for the Recall of Cindy Woodman as Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court. The committee lists its Chairman as Darlee Maylen, with its Treasurer as Amelia Sainz – the two women who previously held the position of Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court for the previous 39 years prior to Woodman being elected in 2018.
Woodman ran on the Republican ticket in the November 2018 election and bested her Democratic opponent Heidi Torrio, 55 percent to 45 percent, with about 1,000 more votes out of the roughly 10,786 ballots cast.
Woodman came under fire for reportedly mishandling evidence in the Campos felony case and was blamed for an exodus of clerks from her office. Woodman previously told the Gila Herald that she felt the attacks against her were politically motivated and that she met push back from Maylen for improving the clerk’s office to be more compliant. She advised that the whole issue with the mishandled evidence was due to the lack of secure evidence storage and that several pieces of evidence that had been in an upstairs vault were not secure and other pieces of evidence were not properly accounted for.
“I believe that the people of this Valley voted me in for a reason to begin with,” Woodman previously told the Gila Herald. “And it was because they knew that they were supporting an individual who has the spine to stand up to the good ol’ boy attitude of this county and they’re tired of oversight and not being compliant and they knew that I had the backbone to stand up and do what was right.”