Marikafka County, Arizona: Now With More Kafka!

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Freelance journalist Nick Martin has an update on Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Stoddard, who last October was caught on video swiping a file in open court from defense attorney defense attorney Joanne Cuccia.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe held a hearing on the matter, and on Tuesday ordered Stoddard to hold a press conference to apologize. It’s a weak and odd way of admonishing Stoddard for such a brazen trespass on attorney-client privilege (not to mention Stoddard’s arguable violation of a number of other laws, rights, and rules of procedure).

But even that was too much for Stoddard’s boss, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday it will be a cold day in Maricopa County before one of his officers apologizes for taking an attorney’s confidential files…

“Superior Court judges do not order my officers to hold press conferences,” Arpaio said in a news release. “I decide who holds press conferences and when they are held.”

An attorney for the sheriff, Tom Liddy, went even further, saying it’s unlikely Stoddard will go to jail for defying the judge’s order. “Folks should not hold their breaths,” he said.

But the sheriff’s office, which runs the county jails, doesn’t plan to defy the order outright. Liddy said the agency will challenge it in a higher court.

The attorney said the order violates Stoddard’s rights to free speech.

The judge “cannot order somebody to lie,” Liddy said. “Of course he’s not sorry for doing his job…It’s absurd on his face.”

I hate to admit it, but Arpaio might have a point here. Not with respect to Stoddard’s conduct, which was reprehensible, but with Judge Donahoe’s order. You get the impression Donahoe was trying to duck any serious sanction. He knew he had to address the seriousness of Stoddard’s actions, but didn’t want to actually hold him in contempt (at the hearing, Donahoe emphasized the “fine line” he has to walk between honoring the officers who secure his courtroom and holding Stoddard accountable).

But by bizarrely ordering the obstinate Stoddard to hold a press conference, he probably just made the whole situation a lot worse.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

43 Responses to “Marikafka County, Arizona: Now With More Kafka!”

  1. #1 |  anonanerd | 

    Officer now has a choice with complying with a lawful order from a judge, or listening to his boss. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. And I cant wait to see who he pisses off first.

  2. #2 |  Aresen | 

    Unfortunately, Sheriff Joe Arpaio appears to BE the law in Maricopa County.

  3. #3 |  RIRedinPA | 

    Wouldn’t his actions fall under a tampering with evidence charge and therefore his press conference should be held from a cell in one of the county jails the sheriff’s office oversees?

  4. #4 |  fwb | 

    There is no fine line. There is right and wrong. The Deputy should be fired and never allowed to work in law enforcement again. One strike you are freakin’ out. Honor and integrity above all else.

  5. #5 |  Nando | 

    If I’m not mistaken, not following the court order would automatically be a contempt of court, no? In that case, if he doesn’t follow the order, he can be sent to (county) jail (which is run by Arpaio). The judge can, however, fine him.

    We’ll see how the events unfold. Judges don’t like to be publicly humiliated and tend to have huge egos.

  6. #6 |  Zargon | 

    This is actually pretty funny. They’re waving their dicks around, saying they’ll appeal to a higher court, but I honestly can’t fathom them actually following through with such a retarded threat. The risk to them just seems way too high to do that.

    Nah, they’ll talk big and make some official and unofficial threats to get the judge to back down. No way they’ll take it to a different judge who doesn’t have to worry about Arpaio’s goons breaking down his door in the middle of the night and finding a enough weed for 500 years in prison. (which is what, nowadays, 3 ounces?)

  7. #7 |  Sydney Carton | 

    I don’t see this as a “free speech” issue at all. Don’t judges sometimes require shoplifters to wear signs saying “I’m a shoplifter”, or other humiliating messages? How would this be any different? It’s the same thing: a condition imposed that if met, will result in a lesser penalty than jail. If the officer doesn’t comply, he can go to jail. The officer doesn’t have to say anything, and if that’s his choice, he can go to jail just as if a shoplifter who refuses to wear a humiliating sign can go to jail.

  8. #8 |  Bryan | 

    Looks like Arpaio may just be a big enough asshole to force the Judge to do something about it. The Court clearly was trying to give the officer a way out of this and Arpaio shat on it. If this Judge backs down, he will lose all credibility.

  9. #9 |  ARCraig | 

    Joe Arpaio is evil incarnate. In a civilized society, he and his horde of sociopaths would be spending the remainder of their days in solitary confinement.

  10. #10 |  hattio | 

    #8
    Lose his credibility? He doesn’t have any credibility…or shouldn’t.

    at#7. I think those sentences are generally do this (wear sign etc.) or go to jail. It sounds like the judge only told him to hold a press conference, and not as an alternative to jail. Shouldn’t jail someone for refusing to follow an unlawful court order. I hate to say it, but I think Arpaio is right too (on the unlawful order to apologize). Don’t get me wrong, I think the officer should be in jail for the original theft of the paper, but not for refusing this order.

  11. #11 |  SusanK | 

    Big deal if he gets sent to jail. May I remind you – his boss runs that jail and his boss is fully supportive of the deputy. A jail sentence would equal the deputy signing in, walking out, then coming back at the end of his sentence to sign out and say “there, I served it.”
    He won’t be wearing pink or eating expired bologna. He isn’t one of the peasants.

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #8 Bryan

    Looks like Arpaio may just be a big enough asshole to force the Judge to do something about it. The Court clearly was trying to give the officer a way out of this and Arpaio shat on it. If this Judge backs down, he will lose all credibility.

    By ordering an apology instead of actually meting out a legitimate penalty, Donahoe’s credibility is already in the toilet. His best bet, and what I suspect he will do, is to just let it go. But, if the appeals court sends it back for resentencing (assuming that’s even possible), Donahoe should make an example out of the guy.

    Personally, I don’t care much for the lawyer for Cuccia being “very pleased with the judge’s ruling.” He should be outraged that the judge only ordered an apology.

  13. #13 |  Phelps | 

    It sounds like the judge only told him to hold a press conference, and not as an alternative to jail.

    The heatcity account said that it was explicit. ‘Do these things (press conference, etc) and if the victim defense attorney (who was also slandered in the officer’s defense according to the judge) accepts it as sincere, then you won’t go to jail. Otherwise, jail.’

  14. #14 |  Phelps | 

    Liddy also said it violates Stoddard’s right to due process because he did not have a trial in front of a jury.

    He’s off his rocker. You don’t get a jury trial for sanctions that come as part of a judge’s inherent power to control his courtroom. If you are charged by the police/DA, you get a trial. If you are already in a courtroom and the judge sanctions you for something you did in court, you don’t get a trial. (I don’t know if I agree, but that is how it is.)

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    He should get the death penalty. But since I don’t believe in the death penalty, I would only agree to this if a secret deal was made to pardon him five minutes before he was to be executed.

  16. #16 |  Mister DNA | 

    Radley,

    Are you familiar with the James Seville case?

    For those unfamiliar with it, 18 year-old James Seville had just been released from Maricopa County jail when he was arrested moments after placing a pipe bomb in Sheriff Joe’s car (conveniently, news crews from all the major TV happened to be on the scene).

    The evidence was extremely damning, until Saville’s attorney came into possession of all the informant’s recordings. Seville was acquitted after the jury ruled that it was entrapment.

    Strangely, the James Seville section at Sheriff Joe’s Wikipedia page has been scrubbed…

  17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Also, the title for this post is just plain cool.

  18. #18 |  Guy | 

    I would think, if I was in this position my goal would be to simply give the officer just enough rope to hang himself with. Then sit and watch.

  19. #19 |  random guy | 

    Personally, I don’t care much for the lawyer for Cuccia being “very pleased with the judge’s ruling.” He should be outraged that the judge only ordered an apology.

    I guess when your used to seeing the sheriffs kick people in the shins on a daily basis, your very pleased when someone says “thats not nice”. Seriously these people have been living with Arpaio for decades and he only seems to get more deranged as time goes on.

    If you were to replace every judge, ADA, and public defender in the Maricopa system with people from out of town the entire sheriffs dept. would be in jumpsuits by the end of the first week. The people there now are just used to this psychopath.

  20. #20 |  Thane Eichenauer | 

    If I were the judge I would not be happy with Mr. Arpaio. That would hardly be a surprise considering how Mr. Arpaio demonizes the entire judicial department of Maricopa county now.

    Thane Eichenauer
    resident of Maricopa County, Arizona

  21. #21 |  KBCraig | 

    Ignoring the face that this is Maricopa and the evil, corrupt, Joe Arpaio, this actually sets up a very interesting constitutional showdown. We need more of them.

    The judge can order whatever he wishes. The sheriff can refuse to carry it out. The judicial branch, by design, has zero enforcement authority. I’ve often wished a judge would order someone jailed for contempt and the sheriff would just shrug: “Go ahead. You got deputies and a jail to put him in?”

    This is an unfortunate case, though, where a criminal sheriff is protecting his criminal deputy.

  22. #22 |  mark robbins | 

    This is so awesome. What an incompetent judge. How exactly does he think its constitutional to compel anyone to say anything at all against their will?

    It’s called contempt of court, and its the sanction you apply. I’m sure he’s held defendants in contempt for far, far, far less.

  23. #23 |  CHRISC | 

    and now cue Rod Serling… “submitted for your approval. A tiny island of fascism awash in a sea of indifference. This is Maricopa County a place where…. Well, you know the rest. Hey does anybody even know that the County Attorney, Andy Thomas, is being investigated by the Arizona Bar? What gets into the drinking water there between the Colorado River and Phoenix. My guess is it flows through a nut farm on the way!

  24. #24 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

    Isn’t Maricopa County the kind of place where episodes of The A-Team took place? You know, someone gets railroaded by the corrupt sheriff that runs everything in the whole county and so they hire Hannibal and his pals to help out? Maybe the new movie will take place there.

  25. #25 |  Tokin42 | 

    I feel like I kind of owe the world an apology. Up until a year or so ago I thought sheriff joe was just a bit of a clown. he kept me amused with the pink cell blocks and making the convicts live in tents, but I assumed he was one of the good guys. Like I said, I came around over a year ago but I didn’t realize until recently just how dangerous he actually is. As a matter-of-fact, I had not heard of the James Seville case Mr. DNA was talking about at all until he posted the link.

    So, I’m sorry for thinking he was funny…. I’ll go stand in the corner for a little while.

  26. #26 |  Aresen | 

    | Dave Krueger | November 19th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    He should get the death penalty. But since I don’t believe in the death penalty, I would only agree to this if a secret deal was made to pardon him five minutes before after he was executed.

    Fixed

  27. #27 |  Danny | 

    “The attorney said the order violates Stoddard’s rights to free speech.”

    What about the right to be secure in my possessions?

    Oh, wait, I’m not an officer, so clearly I have no rights. Don’t mind me.

  28. #28 |  Aresen | 

    An’ don’ yu fergit it, there, Danny-boah.

  29. #29 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Whom does Arpaio answer to?
    Not the FBI, not the local Judge, not the people.
    File under “runaway train.”

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    This reminds me of the time I held up a bank, shot two civilians, kidnapped a bus full of kids…and had to hold a press conference to saying I was sorry. That bastard judge really threw the book at me.

  31. #31 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Someone needs to give Arpaio his rabies shot. He’s long overdue.

  32. #32 |  JS | 

    A showdown between the cops and the courts-hahahahaha! Pass the popcorn.

  33. #33 |  Sean L. | 

    “An attorney for the sheriff, Tom Liddy, went even further, saying it’s unlikely Stoddard will go to jail for defying the judge’s order. “Folks should not hold their breaths,” he said.”

    “…he probably just made the whole situation a lot worse.”

    The Judge certainly made it worse for himself. If he doesn’t put Stoddard in jail for not following a court order, what good are ANY of his orders?

  34. #34 |  MDGuy | 

    I think I see a precendent forming here. In the future, instead of stealing defense lawyers’ documents in open court, the police will simply don some ski masks and jump the lawyers on the courthouse steps. You know, so they can avoid the hassle of dealing with the videotaped evidence.

  35. #35 |  Z | 

    I am just waiting for Joe Arpaio to wake up one morning from unsettling dreams, finding himself changed in his bed into a monstrous bug.

  36. #36 |  Aresen | 

    What do you mean “changed”?

  37. #37 |  Michael Chaney | 

    His bed? I always figured he slept in a crypt. Anyone seen him in direct sunlight?

  38. #38 |  MDGuy | 

    Just read that article that Mister DNA posted the link to. Unbelievable. Apparently, framing, torture, abuse, and murder are all ok but breaking party rank and file to support a democrat is unforgivable. I knew Arpaio was a bad guy just from reading this site but I don’t think I realized before reading that article what a narcissistic sociopath he really is.

  39. #39 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Yes. He’s *really* creepy, and not because he’s “tough on crime”. Hell, I’d hope any sheriff would be tough on crime. As the article points out, he’s not tough on crime, anyway, he’s tough on inmates. Big difference.

    If he actually was tough on *crime*, Stoddard would be in jail.

  40. #40 |  Troy | 

    Cool. A pissing match between the cops and court. Given the degree of expansion by the criminal justice industrial complex, this may have only been a matter of time. I would like to think that we’d see more off these scenarios arise. It’ll be interesting to see who wins. Does any one have the balls the tell the pigs to back down?

  41. #41 |  josh | 

    I don’t see how this really deserves jailtime. He didn’t even shoot a dog. Just fire him.

  42. #42 |  efgoldman | 

    Query (because I don’t know):

    Aren’t Sheriff WackoFascist and Judge MilqueToastIncompetent both elected positions? I thought I read that no-one has even opposed Joe Crazy for decades. In that case, the judge can easily lose his job for getting in the way.

    But its sill all wrong, wrong, wrong.

  43. #43 |  Mr P | 

    efgoldman: You brave enough to run against Judge Dredd? I’d sooner run for the Don of Dons.

Leave a Reply