"Arizona Defense Attorney Joanne Cuccia was in court at the podium arguing on behalf of her client during a sentencing hearing when that client, Antonio Lozano, noticed two detention officers pilfering a document from Cuccia's fies behind her back. The incident, captured on video, interrupted the hearing, enraged defense attorneys and, unbelievably, spurred the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to defend the officers' actions.
Legal documents are privileged information, as well as private property, and so protected from casual pawing by agents of the state. But that didn't prevent Officer Adam Stoddard from casually strolling over to the table where Cuccia's files were laid out, extracting and reading a document, and then handing it to a colleague to be photocopied. His actions were recorded by security cameras.
Court officers are allowed to screen files to make sure that they don't contain contraband, and the Sheriff's office claims that was what Stoddard was doing -- examining a document that had escaped the screening process. But unless a pistol is duct-taped to a letter, officers aren't permitted to help themselves to confidential memos, briefs, motions, letters or any of the other contents of an attorney's files. [more...]"
"...[Defense attorney Joanne] Cuccia was justifiably upset, and requested a hearing. That hearing was last week. According to freelance journalist Nick Martin, who writes at the Heat City blog, [Maricopa County Sheriff's Department detention officer Adam] Stoddard's story changed several times over the course of the hearing. His main defense was apparently that he spotted 'keywords' on the document that made him think it contained threats to the courtroom. The problem with that story is that if you watch the video, he swiped the document from the middle of the file. It wasn't lying in open view. Which leaves open the question of why, in open court, he went snooping through a defense attorney's file in the first place.
I don't know Arizona law, so perhaps a Hit & Run reader with some experience there can help out. Could it possibly be legal for a law enforcement official to meander up to the defense table, begin reading the defense team's files, then take documents from said files without notifying the attorney? That sounds absurd on its face, even for Maricopa County.
It gets weirder. According to Heat City, the purpose of Friday's hearing was to determine if Stoddard had violated the attorney-client privilege of Cuccia's client, Antonio Lozano, and/or if Stoddard should be held in contempt of court. But Judge Gary Donahoe ruled that because the swiped document itself is protected by attorney-client privilege Stoddard wouldn't be able to mount his "keyword" defense, because the contents of the document can't be divulged. According to Heat City, Donahoe said Lozano would have to wave attorney-client privilege if he wanted to proceed with the hearing on whether Stoddard violated his rights.
If this is an accurate portrayal of the hearing, stand back and admire the absurdity: Judge Donahoe is refusing to punish Stoddard for possibly violating Lozano's attorney-client privilege unless Lozano waives his attorney-client privilege."*
"Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been notorious for years for using his power to spy on opponents, and even arrest journalists -- executives with the weekly Phoenix New Times -- who have been critical of his conduct. Arpaio and the Sheriff's Office are reportedly being investigated by the FBI for using threats and intimidation to settle political scores. Among those known to have been scrutinized, arrested or raided by Arpaio's deputies are candidates who ran against Arpaio, a civil liberties attorney and many political opponents in county and state office."*
Talez: This isn't flippant but a serious question.
Why hasn't anyone capped Arpaio yet?
Humiliating gang members and psychos, raging a war against typically violent mexican people smugglers and just being an all round douchebag? Seems like an extremely large percentage of the criminal underworld should want this guy's head on a platter!
I'm not encouraging it by any means (I want the bastard to be prosecuted by the institution he's corruped) but just wondering why he hasn't pissed off the wrong person yet.
ROU_Xenophobe: Hypothesis for argument's sake:
Arpaio is in league with drug smugglers or is one himself, and much of the harassing brown people is really about bringing mules to a central point and collecting their shipments for later distribution.
So fucking with Arpaio means not only dealing with Maricopa thugs, but also with enforcers from either the organized crime he affiliates with or runs.
"According to the sheriff, nobody tells his guys what to do except Sheriff Joe himself -- not even Maricopa County Superior Court judges.
This morning, a Maricopa County detention officer was found in contempt of court for taking documents out of defense attorney Joanne Cuccia's files as she was addressing the court at a sentencing hearing for her client, Antonio Lozano.
...In response, Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe got creative He ordered that as punishment, Officer Adam Stoddard hold a press conference and apologize to Cuccia by November 30. If not, he is ordered to report to jail by December 1.
That's when Joe got all pissy over someone steppin' on his exalted toes.
'My officer was doing his job, and I will not stand by and allow him to be thrown to the wolves by the courts because they feel pressure from the media on this situation,' Arpaio says in a press release. 'I decide who holds press conferences and when they are held regarding this Sheriff's Office.'
Joe pawned off any media inquiries on the County Attorney's Office -- it has yet to return our phone calls.
A few things can happen at this point:
Option A) Officer Stoddard can hold a press conference, Joe can swallow his pride, and we all move on. B) Officer Stoddard can keep the boss happy, defy the court order, and report to jail on December 1. C) The judge can bend over for the sheriff and retract the order. D) Stoddard can hold a press conference, and Joe can put out a press release saying the press conference was his idea.
We're goin' with D."
"A representative for the Maricopa County Association of Detention Officers, John Solano, said the high absenteeism was not a coordinated act of solidarity for detention officer Adam Stoddard, who turned himself Tuesday night in to serve a sentence for contempt. That sentence stemmed from an incident in which Stoddard removed documents from a defense attorney's during a defendant's sentencing hearing."
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