Mohave County has fired Harry Moore, the Public Defender who managed an office that provides legal representation for the indigent. Moore ran the office for 2 ½ years before he was suspended on February 3 by County Administrator Mike Hendrix.
The Board of Supervisors approved Hendrix’ recommendation to terminate Moore’s employment on February 16, but not without hearing from Moore. Moore told supervisors it had been his privilege to serve the county and run the 23 member department and administer its $1.8-million budget.
Moore said office turnover and his abrupt exit while handling 158 cases will leave dozens of defendants in limbo. He urged supervisors to keep him on the job and reject the Hendrix’ firing suggestion.
Moore accused Hendrix of interfering with the operation of his office, something he said is illegal for any non-lawyer to do.
“Mr. Hendrix has endeavored for months to tell me what types of cases to assign to whom, what I should do in managing the office, who should cover which courts, who is a qualified job applicant, etc…,” Moore said. “By state law the public defender must be a lawyer. A non-lawyer such as Mr. Hendrix cannot be the public defender, nor can a non-lawyer be a defacto public defender by telling the public defender what to do.”
Supervisors, without discussion, approved the dismissal by a 5-0 vote.
Moore subsequently said he understands that he was an “at-will” employee, without employment protection or appeal avenues. He said he would not challenge his dismissal through claim or litigation.
Moore said two “disgruntled” employees within his office built a case against him and that Hendrix adopted their assessments of his performance. Hendrix said he is not at liberty to discuss Moore or the reasons for his exit.
Moore said he is exploring other job opportunities and that he and his wife plan to leave Kingman in the near future.