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.

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.

For the story, click here.

32 thoughts on “Court Rules Against Arizona Deputy on Swiping Lawyer’s Note — Arpaio To Defy Court

  1. Arpaio and the deputy must go and go now. If they are allowed to defy the court, Apaio’s and the deputy’s abuses will get worse. They must be held in contempt of court if the apology isn’t given or if the deputy doesn’t report to jail. Put them in the tent jails that Arpaio has set up and see how long they last.

  2. I can see jail as a sanction. But to have to merely apologize? Come on I can do that with my fingers crossed, nod, nod, wink, wink. Even if he goes to jail whats the punishment? I would appeal this all the way until an appropriate remedy is granted. Like firing a DOJ investigation. Does this amount to a status of lynching if the defendant had done this to the sheriff?

  3. We have names for folks here in Virginia who blatantly defy court orders or who order their minions to do so. We don’t use nouns though, just numbers.

  4. raff

    Couldn’t agree more. I live in Maricopa County, AZ. Arpaio has worn out his welcome even among some of his usual fans of gun-toters, anti-Hispanic bigots and Neo-Nazi militiamen. Well, maybe not the latter. They probably still love him.

  5. Arpaio needs to have about 25 FBI agents all up in his grille.

    By noon.

    Specifically the kind of agents not known for having much humor about rogue cops.

    If there was a poster child for abusive cops who need to be stripped of their badge and prohibited from working in law enforcement in any capacity? It’s Arpaio.

    He’s is simultaneously a threat to liberty and the rule of law as well as a joke of a man. If he didn’t have a badge, he’d be dismissed as a crank and an ignorant redneck. Openly encouraging officers to act in not just an unconstitutional manner, but to do so DEFIANTLY? He should be under arrest himself.


  6. Is Sheriff Arpaio an elected official? If he is, it’s going to take enough disgusted Maricopa County citizens to vote him out of office. Otherwise, he’s entrenched.

  7. please don’t think I am defending what that deputy did, I would be pretty p. oed. if I were on trial.

    But what is the law on this? Is there any law on this? The defendant and the lawyer looked right at him and the judge must have seen what he was doing, why didn’t they tell him to stop?

    Why wouldn’t he have just waited until the lawyer was finished and then asked her about it, if he thought there was a threat?

    What bothers me the most is that the deputies seemed to have no boundaries and were very comfortable doing what they did. Even if the guy is a criminal he has a right to privacy.

    If this is an indication of how private property is dealt with in Sheriff Joe’s domain, I agree it is time for him to go and possibly to a secure retirement funded by the state correctional board.

  8. flipkid

    Yes, the County Sheriff’s position is an elected one. Arpaio has been seemingly entrenched for several years. His most recent re-election (Nov ’08) was the closest yet.

    As I said earlier, he’s becoming quite a tiresome annoyance. He’s pissed off some of the smaller towns in the county for lack of cooperation, subjected American citizens to drive up on-the-street demands for their (citizenship) “papers.” He was recently stripped of his special privleges (granted by the Bushies) to enforce federal immigration laws by former AZ Gov. and now Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. In short, he’s a thug with a badge and a throwback of all that America has tried to change about over zealous law enforcement.

  9. there was a news post today about a 52 year old man in Fairfax County, VA being shot to death by 3 uniformed officers at a supposedly routine traffic stop. And a friend of mine told me about a 10 year old boy who was tasered.

    There is something very bad going on here, government is buck ass out of control and these are symptoms of the larger problem. The county in which I live is wildly out of control and over reaching in their understanding of government power.

    The county in which I live, in my opinion, is nothing more than a Fascist State. I cannot cut down more than a couple of trees without “permission” from the county Arborist nor can I build a large storage shed without first having to comply with multiple local and state ordinances. Only one of which is zoning, the other are environmental requirements which only add to the cost but do nothing other than make some government cracker feel good about saving the environment.

    The Chesapeake Bay, which all of these regulations are meant to protect, is in worse shape than it was. The reason, the government crackers exempted the farmers from compliance. So the home owner is paying an additional $10,000 to $20,000 to comply with regulations that are doing nothing.

    Are we simpletons to let this crap keep going on?

  10. The attorney should file a Section 1983 lawsuit based upon a violation of the Fourth Amendment and seek nominal and punitive damages. To the extent that the sheriff ratifies the deputy’s actions, then the sheriff and the county would be on the hook for liability as well.

  11. who is protecting us from people that are there to protect us.
    people in communist countries must be feeling a little high now…kind of above us…” of the free….”

  12. How is it possible to make even Sarah Palin look partially decent?
    Joe Arpaio. RCampbell, the problem is I can see him losing as Sheriff and then becoming an Arizona Congressman, Senator or Governor. The tolerance of Arizonans for this thug has gone on for years and that makes me worry about him even more.

  13. Byron: by your post I’m guessing that you and I don’t live too far from one another geographically. How can we be so far apart philosophically?

    “Government” isn’t out of control; society is. And someone has to at least attempt to keep the peace. And if you think we live in a Fascist State now, you’d better hope the turbo-Christian neo-Cons don’t get back into power anytime soon.

  14. At least the judge didn’t order him to wear pink and parade back and forth in front of the courthouse carrying a sign that read “I Stole From a Lawyer”.

  15. It looks like we are in such deep doodoo that we really have to ask, “If the judge orders the deputy to jail, who has the guns to take him there?” This slimy “sheriff” has the guns, so he is the law. Given the bizarrely impassive response of the judge to the deputy’s action at the time, I’d be surprised if she doesn’t just roll over and find a way to resolve this to the preferences of the sheriff.

    If we’re really lucky, he’ll do something stupid and violate a state or federal law.

    Also, just as impeaching and removing W would have given us “President Cheney,” be careful what you wish for in replacing this guy – this is a part of Arizona that has re-elected him several times…

  16. Top Ten Reasons to recall Joe

    7: Arpaio routinely abuses his authority for personal, political, and vindictive reasons.

    Two Republicans and an Independent running against Arpaio have all alleged abuses of power on the part of Sheriff Arpaio. In 2002, the county settled a lawsuit out of court with former employee Steve Barnes for wrongful termination after he blew the whistle on questionable tactics by the sheriff’s office.

    Barnes claimed that Arpaio’s office wiretapped former Arpaio aide Tom Bearup and that it had targeted County Attorney Rick Romley for surveillance. Bearup, W. Steven Martin and Dan Saban, all running for sheriff against Arpaio this year, have also reported that they have been followed and harassed by sheriff’s deputies.

  17. TomD.Arch:

    “It looks like we are in such deep doodoo that we really have to ask, “If the judge orders the deputy to jail, who has the guns to take him there?”


    Don’t worry this is all bluster preparing the way for some face-saving compromise. The high sheriff knows that the state police don’t care a wit about his jurisdiction and the Governor will certainly enforce an order the sheriff ignores. the only wild card is that this judge looks more like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm that John Sirica, but no matter, justice always gets her day–just sometimes delayed.

  18. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the leader of an INHUMANE SYSTEM in Maricopa County, AZ and employees follow his every move. Control, power, money is their motive. Step on whomever they can to get these three goals. Human lives have long been lost in the shuffle. Taxpayers dollars are adding up in the billions now since Arpaio’s takeover as he thinks of himself King. His sick demented torture mind however makes him sadistic. Tent City example of his media blasting 138 degrees with a thermometer inside a tent with humans is oven like feeling that only a devil could show. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not only a MEDIA HOUND, but a horric sense of non naturist man. Let’s stop this leader before another death in Tent City Jails. Contact me to get our movie out sooner than 2010.
    Alison Hicks
    Author/Movie Creator

  19. M72 wrote:

    “the Governor will certainly enforce an order the sheriff ignores.”

    Ah, but you do not know of Arizona’s prayin’ Republican ‘Governess’. She halts her deliberations with staff to pray with them for guidance and the State’s budget is still in shambles. Gawd will whisper in her ear that Arpaio is a patron saint and not the villain Sheriff of Nottingham ‘robbin’ the hood’.

  20. The judge’s conduct here should be reviewed. It seems from the video that she surrendered control of her courtroom to the “Big Bad Sheriff” a long time ago. If she felt she could do nothing to stop this deputy, there’s little hope for a fair adjudication in that county. Where is the ACLU when it’s really needed?

  21. As a former AZ resident for 12 yrs, not of Maricopa Cty, but of a county to the north of it, why doesn’t this all surprise me? Navajo Cty is just as bad. They have an uneducated staff at the Government Center, they can’t send out a legal form without getting the names mixed up between petitioner and respondent or have everything misspelled. There is religious collusion between the attorneys with some of the judges so, in some cases, you can’t get a fair hearing or trial, unless you are of that religious persuasion. Unless you ask for a change of judge, one that you are positive is not of that religious persuasion, you stand a poor chance with your day in court.

    AZ does have its good points, though. Some things that go on in the neighboring state of NM, make some things they do in AZ pale in comparison.

    Ah, yes. I remember the good old days, when, as a teen, growing up in PA and a local police officer in an Eastern PA city was kicked out of the police force for making an illegal wiretap. That was in the early 1970’s. My, have times changed.

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