Court Orders Arizona Deputy to Jail After He Refuses to Apologize for Swiping Attorney’s Notes in Court

Officer Adam Stoddard of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has added contempt of court to his prior violation of attorney-client confidentiality. At the urging of his boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Stoddard has refused to apologize to defense attorney Joanne Cuccia after he swiped handwritten notes from her papers — caught in the videotape above. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe ordered Stoddard to either apologize or report to jail — a remarkably light sentence. However, Arpaio encouraged his officer to go to jail — just the latest outrageous act by Arpaio who has been widely accused of acting more like a petty dictator than a police officer in Arizona.

Stoddard’s punishment was light in my view and he should have been barred from work in the courthouse or jail. Yet, he seems to believe that swiping confidential notes is a noble deed — a view clearly reinforced by his boss. On Monday he issued the following statement: “Part of my job in providing security to the court is to inspect documents brought into the courtroom. On October 19th, I saw a document that I had not yet screened, and that raised security concerns. I retrieved that document in plain sight and had court personnel copy it to preserve it as evidence in case it was a security breach. Judge Donahoe has ordered me to feel something I do not and say something I cannot. I cannot apologize for putting court safety first. The judge therefore puts me in a position where I must lie or go to jail. And I will not lie.”

The statement is nonsensical. Officers are allowed to flip through papers to see if there is contraband or weapons. They are not supposed to read confidential notes for their content or make copies of them. It is clear that the judges in the courthouse have allowed Arpaio and his officers too much discretion. This was an outrageous act and should not be countenanced by any judge on appeal. What is equally disturbing is the decision of county attorney Andrew Thomas to fight to defend such an outrage.

Just because Arpaio has declared that an appeal will be taken does not mean that prosecutors must follow his lead over a cliff. The prosecutors have a right to stand aside on principle and not fight to defend such conduct. They can decline and, if necessary, arrange for private counsel to represent the officer.

Stoddard self-surrendered to jail after a court order was issued. Arpaio was quick to the cameras and declared “[m]y officer will go to jail; we’ll appeal it, I’m very angry about this. . . . For political reasons, he was thrown to the wolves.”
Deputy county attorney Tom Liddy objected that the order stated that Cuccia had to be satisfied by the apology or the officer would face jail: “She’s going to decide if Officer Stoddard is going to go to jail on December 1st? You know what? That’s nuts. That’s absolutely nuts.” I agree. It is absolutely nuts that a simply apology would suffice for this violation. It is also absolutely nuts that Liddy and his boss Andrew Thomas have turned their back on the legal system and are defending such an outrageous abuse by the officer.

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35 thoughts on “Court Orders Arizona Deputy to Jail After He Refuses to Apologize for Swiping Attorney’s Notes in Court”

  1. For the life of me why would the Judge decide that an apology is sufficient. I desire to back Sheriff Joe in his efforts to stop illegal immigration into America but he and his officer Stoddard are wrong here. Stoddard should be punished, period. Judges can be impeached for not doing their job Constitutionally but court documents must not be treated with disrespect by law enforcement. I want Obama and Holder to face all the “music” for “Fast and Furious” and all that could mean legally. Let ALL the Bush administration face the same music, if they were involved. Criminals must be prosecuted properly within the law. I am a believer in the Constitution, to me that means no illegal immigration.

  2. And the article discusses things like the FBI and DOJ investigating the Sherrif, and really crazy stuff like a judge having to block the execution of a search warrant on her home and chambers.

    The HuffPo article says that in retaliation for this deputy being slapped on the wrist by Judge Donahoe, the courts were disrupted by a deputy “sick out” and evacuation of the building because of a supposed “bomb scare.” And in the most blatant act of retaliation against Judge Donahoe, prosecutor Thomas is using some very creative ideas about “indirect benefits” to indict the judge on bribery charges. This situation is seriously out of control.

  3. Wow! Maricopa Country has a lot of poop hitting a lot of fans:

    It sounds like prosecutor Thomas is Sheriff Arpaio’s pet, and is more than happy to spew endless (dubious sounding) indictments against any politician (regardless of party affiliation) who would stand up to the Sheriff. The litany of arrests and charges against political opponents of the Sheriff sounds more like news from the politically corrupt 3rd world than somewhere in the US. Stunning.

  4. So whats your problem with a sheriff like this Buddha, I am more afraid of the folks in the bayou band and the owner of Gino’s in Chicago. Wussy. lol

  5. “Liddy did say that Stoddard wasn’t being forced to wear pink underwear or use pink towels like other county inmates.”

    The Sick call in. The perfect example of double standard LE.

    Buddha, thanks for the updates.

  6. I don’t think the singing had any place at that venue, why not let the man answer questions?

    The questions probably would not have been milquetoast and he would have had to explain why he does what he does. And he might have been exposed as a corrupt fool, all that did was make him a sympathetic instead of pathetic figure.

    The french cuffs are looking more and more plausible. Governor Joe, WTF?

  7. “Still now I don’t join associations or clubs”

    I have a good idea of how you feel and feel that way myself. I feel that way about mass demonstrations in good causes. While I participated in many Peace and Civil Rights marches, union picket lines and other demonstrations in the 60’s, I always felt uncomfortable doing it. I don’t like other people, or groups determining my actions/reactions to a given issue.

    Your point about what we in America call civil service is apt. I was a civil servant for New York City for 32 years, many as an execeutive and I felt I owed my allegiance to the people I served and the rules of operation, rather than the political hacks that came in and out of power. When I became an Exec there was pressure to play the game, but I always let my conscience be my guide, sometimes to my detriment. Politicians hate the bureaucracy because it is difficult to manipulate it into doing their bidding. Their “bidding” is often that of expedience, rather than correctness. While we know of corrupt bureacracies from history and today, in country’s with good civil bureacracies there is much benefit.

    Now as you pointed out when it comes to law enforcement it is a different mindset. Us vs. Them. This mindset is encouraged from the outside by demagogues and from the inside by a feeling of disconnect from the ordinary citizen. While many go into police work for the best of motives, some are attracted by the potential power of it. Those few are unfortunately the ones who influence the new generations of LEO’s entering the ranks and are also the ones who rise in the bureaucracy.
    Ad to this that while many politicians make a point of praising police bravery on duty, they don’t back it up with good wages or working conditions. This enhances the feeling of isolation.

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