Dy’er Sez: I profiled this story a little ways back. A Maricopa sheriff rifled through a defense attorney’s paperwork (while her back was turned and she was addressing the Judge); he then removed a document, hands it off to another sheriff (who quickly scuttles away, apparently to make a photocopy) while the defense attorney is trying to let the Judge know what the officer had done. Then the second sheriff replaces the document (again, while the attorney’s back is turned). One might think the story fantastic, but it was all caught on the courts camera (see previous post on this story for the video).
The officer has now been given the following sentence: apologize or go to jail. This is an incredible light sentence; if this fellow was anything other than a cop he would have been immediately jailed for contempt (among other things).
To make matters worse, the sheriff’s boss (the infamous Joe Arpiao) has stated that his officer will not comply with the court order.
Given the reaction of the Judge who’s watch this happened on, the Judge who handed down the sentence, Joe Arpiao, and the officers who were involved, it’s a safe bet that the rule of law, proper protocol, attorney confidentiality privileges, and the Constitution have no place in the legal system of Maricopa County.
Story from Law Scholar Jonathan Turley’s blog:
Court Rules Against Arizona Deputy on Swiping Lawyer’s Note — Arpaio To Defy Court
There has been a ruling in the Arizona case where an officer, Officer Adam Stoddard with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is clearly shown on this videotape reading and then swiping the confidential papers of defense attorney Joanne Cuccia in court. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe found against Stoddard and ordered him to either apologize or report to jail — a remarkably light sentence. However, his boss is Sheriff Joe Arpaio who has said that his officer will defy the order.
Stoddard swiped the papers while defense attorney Joanne Cuccia was addressing the court on behalf of her client, Antonio Lozano. The response of Judge Lisa Flores was remarkably understated and restrained given the horrific breach of confidentiality.
Before Donahoe, Stoddard’s explanation only magnified his misconduct. He claimed that he saw the words “going to,” “steal,” and “money” on a handwritten sheet of paper sticking out of Cuccia’s file, which led him to believe that Lozano posed a security threat. This confirms that he read the document as opposed to a cursory review of material for contraband or weapons. It is also ridiculous that such words would cause an officer to remove confidential notes — written by an attorney — in a criminal case. Most of the attorneys in that courthouse are representing people with records and have notes including such nouns and verbs