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.
Stoddard ordered an apology to Cuccia or jail. Many believed that Stoddard should have been fired or, in the very least, barred from work in courthouses. Arpaio, however, has declared that he will defy the order. Arpaio is the most controversial sheriff in the country and is routinely accused of abusive practices. On this occasion, he is defending his deputies pulling handwritten notes from the files of lawyers to be copied and reviewed.
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