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home : latest news April 28, 2016

5/6/2010 6:01:00 AM
Man files million dollar suit against county

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A Golden Valley man is asking for more than $42.3 million in damages from the county for deliberately violating his First Amendment rights.

On March 1, James Kanelos filed an injunction against the county to prevent it from enacting its new polices against politicking on county property, the new gun check system, and a dress code for residents attending meetings. According to Kanelos, Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen denied the injunction but indicated that he would accept a complaint against the county.

On April 28, Kanelos filed a two-part complaint against the county, the Board of Supervisors, County Attorney Matt Smith, County Manager Ron Walker and Deputy County Attorney Bill Ekstrom.

Ekstrom said he has heard of Kanelos' complaint but did not know the details of the complaint because the county has not yet been served.

"The county has the position that it hasn't done anything inappropriate and hasn't violated anyone's rights," Ekstrom said. "I think there has been a misunderstanding between the Board and individuals which has unfortunately created a great deal of mistrust. I hope to convince Mr. Kanelos and others that there was no malicious intent on the part of the county."

In the first part of his complaint, Kanelos claims that his First Amendment rights were violated in November when Supervisor Buster Johnson asked Golden Valley resident Luca Zanna to stop passing out information about Sen. John McCain's voting record during a town hall meeting.

Kanelos claims that because of Johnson's actions he and others in the building were denied access to information they wanted to receive, violating their First Amendment rights.

He said the county continued to violate his rights when soon after the town hall incident Walker started adding unwritten policies that affected the general public and their attendance at meetings.

Kanelos states that County Supervisors Gary Watson, Tom Sockwell and Johnson violated their oaths of office and several state statutes by supporting the unwritten policies and that Smith and Ekstrom failed to advise the Board and Walker their actions were in violation of the law.

In the second part of the complaint, Kanelos claims it wasn't until the March 1 meeting of the Board that the policies were written down and approved. He claims that no public comments or input were allowed during the meeting or during the creation of the policies.

Kanelos said in the suit that he does not want to unduly burden the taxpayers of Mohave County and seeks minimal damages from the county itself. He asks the court to declare the supervisors, Ekstrom, Smith and Walker as individuals and not protect their actions with their offices.

He asks the court to rule that the new county polices are invalid and unconstitutional; that the supervisors, Walker, Ekstrom and Smith violated his constitutional rights and harmed him by doing so.

Kanelos is asking for more than $39 million in compensatory damages and $432,000 in punitive damages for a total of more than $40 million in his first claim. In his second claim, he asks for $31,500 per day in compensatory and $4,000 per day in punitive damages dating back to March 1, which as of May 5 totaled more than $2.3 million.

"I hope to convince Mr. Kanelos and others that there was no malicious intent on the part of the county."

Bill Ekstrom

Deputy county attorney

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Article comment by: Very Unfortunate

How many of you really didn't see this coming? Be real! It is very unfortunate that it takes actions like this to the BOS and the good ole boy network to wake up and realize the citizens are not stupid. Well, take that back, if you voted for these fools them you are and you are also part of the problem. I've been waiting for someone to put the nail in the coffin and turn Kingman into a ghost town, I hope this is it and that they win.

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: desert rat

@Alto Smithart
Frightening sight is it not? Would that it were as appealing as a half-life ago. I find that,with age, it is harder to keep everything tucked in and I am a lot less likely to give a damn.
Most days I am sure my attire would not get into a BOS meeting.

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: CONSTANTINE XI

@az mac
I have only been here in kingman close to 10 years, i travel alot sometimes 300 days a year for work so i may have missed alot of these offences i read about here as of late.

I do have one lingering question for everyone here.... If this has been going on for so long at such a level why did it take something so petty to ignite it.

On any level that i have read the last 6 or so month i have seen accusations of things many times more oppressive, more arrogant and more irresponsible.

The view portrayed is this was the last straw as if it had been the worse offense yet to date. But what has been drips and drabs info on past things would have made a tremendous argument if they are true,(not implying doubt but i have no first hand knowledge) This has as you said let run amok and trying now to curb it will be a monumental task.

to make an example if i was your neighbor and i stole from you, caused you great duress, damaged your property and many more acts against you but the first time you confronted me or reported me was for playing my music too loud, you would look like an unreasonable person.

So for all these years and officials the claims of past offenses, misuse of authority and every imaginable assault on property, business and personal rights now the outrage over a flyer opposing a candidates voting record who by the way didnt win anyway and some name calling add in some additional over stepping of authority and the town looks like whiners.

Has anyone pursued this prior to now?
how come i havent seen so much emotion in the past 10 years ive lived here and the years i visited before moving? Has the state been notified prior? there must have been a dozen more viable routes and courses to be taken prior to this to end it then.

Personal rights ALL of them are important to me. i do choose to review an entire situation before jumping on board after all even the captain on the ship of fools is still a fool.

If this is all true or even part of it, This should have been addressed and remedied long before now and the question still haunts my mind Why did no one organize to stop this long ago?

There is a quote from a movie i like to use when it fits and this would seem to be appropriate....

Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.

Sure does seem to apply here and now.

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: az mac

If the people had done their job as good Americans should, the BOS would not have run amok. Most people do not pay attention to any thing politicians do.
If the BOS had done their job properly there would be no law suites.
The county is insured for law suites and very little will come out of the tax payers pocket. But it should all come from the tax payers for not doing their job. It took someone like Luca Zanna to put a stop to all the corruption.Even the state is on Luca's side.
But I guess freedom of speech and our other rights are not important to you. Maybe the people and the politicians will sit up and take notice and start doing the proper job by the constitution. We need to get rid of a lot of the regulation imposed on private property and business. Then the jobs may start coming back. Let people be responsible for their own actions. That is what made this country great, not regulation and taxes.

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: reg r

This Kanelos suit is a joke and should be thrown out, however Luca has a valid claim. Walker and Sockwell both wrote letters to the editor as well as comments made by Ekstrom and Taylor signing their own names and probably from a Mohave County IP. In response to the suits and the cost the taxpayers will bear, Sockwell should tender his resignation immediately following his last action as BOS by firing Ron Walker for costing the county all of this money. But we know they won't. They will laugh all the way to the bank with their lifetime retirements and health care on the taxpayer dime.

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: PIZZLE PIZZLE

@ "Icarus"

Because the BOS does not care if they owe only 1 cent. They certainly care if the county is whallopped with huge punitive damages however.

This is how any rights violation case works. Its called punitive damages and is a form of checks and balances. Its a way for the judicial branch to keep the executive branch in check.

Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010
Article comment by: CONSTANTINE XI

@patriot wes
It has become apparent to me that i have to dumb this statement down even further for your consumption.

I meant by "HURTING THE COUNTY" the money and time to defend a ridiculous frivolous lawsuit as the one above would damage the COUNTY and ALL THAT LIVE IN IT more than it will ever effect the targeted officials named. I further reiterated that IT WOULD BE A BETTER POINT if he could sue the individual offender instead.

Let me explain my point here for you wes, IF the lawsuit was to succeed THE COUNTY AND THE COUNTY INSURANCE would PAY the SUIT.


Now that said how would this sway any one accused here? There would still be a chance that the offenders could even be re-elected even if the suit wins.

So please tell me how this foolishness could possibly have any outcome that could change the course of what started the outrage?

My entire point is WE will pay the suit, ITS OUR tax money that would be used and its OUR tax money that pays the insurance premium.

I have not even ONE TIME sided with the board. I have stated that i felt the reaction to the flyer rule and the dress code was a bit over board.

All the offenders will not in any way be effected PERSONALLY if this wins that was and is my point. they can go on business as usual no matter the outcome of a ridiculous lawsuit or not.

Now i could dumb this down further for you to help with your constant need to take everything i say out of context but that would require crayons and i dont have your address to mail it to you, I could include pictures next time if that would assist you in interpreting what is on MY mind "creskin"

Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010
Article comment by: Fed Up

Interesting lawsuit. I have a friend trying to open a business and this current county powers are giving him the run around. Even the ADEQ in Phoenix has said there is no reason this business should not open up.
A local water district is also under the same political waffling of Gary Watson and Bill Ekstrom. Their actions are detrimental to both business and district. If they can't get their way one way, they fine the business, if they can't get the other way they throw the district under the bus. Now my only question is does the County Board of Supervisors represent the people of the county or their own personal agendas which is under attack. If they had done their job in the first place, this law suit would not happen.

Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010
Article comment by: Patriot WES

@ constantine XI
You whole notion that its county first and residents come last fits right in with the current BOS and King Walker! You must be protecting your job by saying these things. You make a statement and it's suppose to be fact? Give me a break! This is the mind set of King Walker himself! " I'm going to make up rules and laws as we go along, and if they don't like them they can take it to court and change them" Well dear Constantine XI, he and you are getting your wish! You have made your bed, now lay in it!!!

Posted: Saturday, May 8, 2010
Article comment by: Karen L

I think its great that he wants to get his point across ! but sounds a little sue happy to me !

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: CONSTANTINE XI

@last name first
I usually dont like to retort to the taking of my statement out of context but im going to make an exception here.

"hurting the county" meant hurting the entity of the county, as a whole.
via frivolous lawsuits that if for God knows why win, they will hurt every taxpayer here.

if the bogus unmerited lawsuit was filed naming the offending officials personally and holding the accountable only with out the county bank account and insurance paying it would only be the most imagined and frivolous lawsuit in the history of the county.

Im contacting my cousin Vinny he is lawyer in new york and im starting a class action lawsuit against Mr James Kanelos for wasting our time, causing irreversible damage to our eyes and making each and every one of us dumber for having read his tale of rights infringement. I am going to ask for $3 trillion dollars in compensatory damages and $100,000 per letter of the above article in punitive damages or roughly $33,902,032,998.732.27 and when we win this class action lawsuit i think we should pay down the countries debt with it and whats left over we can use to pay off every debt of every resident of kingman. Give the current board of supervisors a going away party and pave our roads here fix the broken things ignored for way too long. and then buy every resident a real nice barbecue gas or charcoal up to them because when your cookin on your own grill all the problems in the world seem to drift away with the smoke off the grill.

I am going to need signatures though so lets get this going

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: az mac

I blame the people for allowing The BOS to get away with all the crap they have done for years. The bad shape the country is in, is the peoples fault for falling asleep at the wheel and allowing them to do as they please. If it costs the people oh well, they are the ones at fault.
Any time you allow the government to run amuck it will cost you one way or the other.
The people control all the power, the government ( city, county, state or Federal ) can only do what the people allow them to do. This election most will go out and vote for the same people and then bitch about how bad things are. If most people were like Luca Zanna and his wife then this country would be in great shape.
Maybe just maybe the law suites will make all sit up and pay attention to what is going on.

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: I don't Want to pay


The only people I see crying are those of you who aren't getting their way. Many of these protests started over taxes and fees being too high. Now they want to sue over a "violation of their rights", which will only raise taxes and fees, that's brilliant my friend. I want people like you folks running this county!

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: Patriot WES

@ I don't want to pay
I stand by my statement about you! Quit crying like a baby! Making a statement about our feedoms and rights that are disappearing every day is well worth the money! As a matter of fact, there is not enough money to cover the above subjects. With all your education that you have and brag about, you should be able to understand this! It really is simple to understand! If you don't want to pay for the idiots that lead this county, then either move or help us recall or vote all of these idiots out!

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: Ica rus

@Pizzle Pizzle: You said Quote: "He's not in it for the money, this is about doing what's right!" endQuote.
So if that's the case then why would he not just sue for 1 penny as it would prove the same point?

@Desert Rat: "Golden Folly", LOL!

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: Old lady in the desert

Talk about crazy!!! My road isn't paved, I'm gonna sue. My road gets flooded, I'm gonna sue. Someone cut me off in the street, I'm gonna sue. Telemarketers still slide by the no call, I'm gonna sue. All the handicapped places were full, I'm gonna sue. I have a headache, I'm gonna sue. Zanna is one thing, this is entirely another. Who is this guy gonna sue when he has t o pay court costs and legal fees because this is obviously a frivolous suit. Jump on the band wagon, one and all. Take up a class action suit, so they can all be thrown out. This is crazy!!!

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: Alton Smithart

Hey desertrat , your underwears are showing.

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: I don't Want to Pay


The crying started when people were asked not to pass out flyers. Now it's going to cost you and I, and everyone else in the county, tax dollars regardless. I don't know about you, but I for one do not like it. These people are trying to get the county government to spend more useless money, which I believe is what they were protesting against in the 1st place. Does that make sense to you? If it does, you sir, deserve what happens.

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010
Article comment by: oh man

I hope this guy wins against this corrupt county and the have to pay up thats what these corrupt idiots need i have been harrassed enough by the so called law enforcenment around here for too many years

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Article comment by: nnp nnp

Nice. Scream and throw a fit over a penny tax increase, then hit your friends and neighbors with a frivolous law suit for 43 mil. Who does he think is gonna pay for that? Him?? Ya, right. What a joke. The people who are throwin the high fives at this piece of work should be ashamed, and should shoulder the majority of the cost for the lawyers, instead of us tax payers who think he is a being a big baby over the whole hat thing. [Deleted].

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Article comment by: PIZZLE PIZZLE


And I'm not a resident of Mohave anymore so I don't get any benefit out of saying this.

The political message behind it gains more action as a class action suit. He's not in it for the money, this is about doing what's right!

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Article comment by: Joe mama

You know Zuna just needs to get a real life, real job and move on with that life. I mean really now come on. Both of the men that are sueing need to do this. Go and make your own money and leave the TAX PAYERS money alone.

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Article comment by: Patriot WES

I wonder how long it will take Sockwell and Walker to compare Jim to Tim McVeigh or the rightwing fringe! I will be eagerly awaiting for Sundays paper, maybe Fridays, I can't believe they have learned a lesson YET, They are way to arrogant to learn anything!

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Article comment by: desert rat

Finally!! A real contest for the title of Lead Jester of Golden Folly, the highest ficticious amount of damages wins! Let's see how this will work: The BOS will be served with the suit and will turn to hand the paper to the County Attorney, who is elected to defend the county against this stuff. BUT, the County Attorney has also been served. Could this create a conflict of interest?
If so, the County Attorney will turn and hand the paper to the State Attorney General's office. Once that happens, the fun is over and the candidates for Golden Folly Jester had better have their ducks in a row. The State does not like to send people around on frivilous suits and pay expenses.
However, there may be a bright side. Lee Janzen may put a gag order on the case so that we wouldn't have to read Zanna zealot propaganda for a few months.

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Article comment by: Patriot WES

@ I Don't Want To Pay,
You sound like a baby crying! Money is the only thing the BOS and Walker understand!
What ever happened to Laws and Rights and when they use to mean something! A class action by every resident sounds good to me, Maybe, just maybe this group of yahoos that call themselves county leaders will get the message!

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