The Continuing Downsides of Having a "Colorful" Sheriff

When Sheriff Joe Arpaio does not have his deputies busy arresting anyone found driving while Mexican, he is showing his contempt for the legal process.  Another weird story just keeps getting weirder:

Defying a court order, Maricopa County detention officer Adam Stoddard said he would rather go to jail than apologize for swiping a defense attorney's court file.Now it's up Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe to follow through on his contempt of court finding against Stoddard and place him in jail.

However, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio "“ who runs the jails "“ has vowed to challenge the order if it comes down to that....

...when it appeared that Stoddard was not going to call a press conference for his public apology, he called an impromptu press conference at 8:30 p.m. tonight "“ to state that he wasn't going to apologize.

If you missed it, Carlos Miller at the link above has the act of the deputy taking defense briefs off their table in court on video.

This is not the only example of the Sheriff going to extraordinary lengths to obtain information to which he has no right.  In an incredible and under-reported story, his armed posse actually stormed into the County offices and took over the computing center that contained emails he had been unable to obtain through court order.

Update:  Not sure I think too much of a judge's order to issue a public apology, but that is another story.

  • me

    I am wondering why the FBI hasn't stepped in, and stepped in hard here? This looks like a classical case of local law enforcement gone wrong?

  • Charlie B

    Contrary to popular opinion, everything isn't a federal case. The FBI hasn't stepped in because no federal crime was committed or alleged.

  • mahtso

    The quotes leave out (what to me is) the most important point: the Officer is not sorry and believes what he did was right. Whether or not what he did was right, it would be wrong for the Officer to lie about it now. I also suspect that such a lie would be either a crime or a civil infraction because the Officer would be acting under court order. Of course, maybe others feel that lying to avoid a negative consequence is appropriate.

  • DrTorch

    Interesting separation of powers case.

    I believe the sheriff does have the ability not to go forward w/ the court's direction.

    Of course the Gov also has the ability to call in the state guard...

    Fun times our there. Good thing Erickson is such a bust so there isn't any distraction from the real entertainment.

  • Michael

    The press conference was a stupid idea. An agent for the prosecution stealing defense materials warrants arrest ad trial. Letting this go undermines the whole concept of out criminal justice system. Plus, there could be 5th amendment issues.

  • roger the shrubber

    the word you want is "caudillo". i hate to say it, since i liked the way arpaiao treated cons and went after illegal aliens - note those key words "convicts" and "illegal" - but the guy is out of hand. his PD is out of hand. it's clear that he's finally come to the age-old conclusion of "la loi c'est moi". history teaches that once a man in power comes to that conclusion, things will get worse for john q. public every day thereafter. does he carry special pearl-handled revolvers? does he wear a special uniform with special solid gold insignia? does he get a special straight-armed salute? no? he will, soon enough, unless he's stopped. where the hell is the state in all this?

  • Ian Random

    I prefer to hear both sides of the story before making a decision, but it looks like he is able to keep crime down.

    http://sonoranalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/graph.jpg

  • http://www.gmsplace.com/ John Moore

    I sorta like having Joe around, as long as he doesn't come after me.

    I mean, after all, what would Arizona be without our colorful politicians. We've had Ev Mecham (impeached, darn it, spoiled the fun); Sam Steiger (libertarian burro killer, midnight graffiti artist); Barry Goldwater (alright, he didn't break any laws)... and lots of others.

    BTW, many of Joe's programs are pretty good - for example, his tent city (a friend of mine is no fan - which is good - maybe he won't do anything to get back there); his chain gangs (popular among the inmates, btw); his large, armed posses who provide many public services including keeping the peace.

    What's scary is that Joe may run for governator.

  • Michael

    I just saw the Stoddard press conference. In the statement that Joe wrote for him to read, he takes the position that he is permitted to read and photocopy any document in the possession of the defense under the pretext of keeping the court room secure.

    @Ian Random. It's pretty easy to keep crime down when you're above the law and can blanket arrest a whole group of people based on a demographic. The old mob bosses on the east coast could keep an area pretty crime free too. A thug is a thug.

  • http://herdgadfly.blogspot.com/ gadfly

    So Michael prefers higher crime to enforcing the law? If the demographic group is breaking the law, its members may face appropriate penalties.

    Personally, I believe that if a suspect is arrested and then convicted, his "demographic" is not the defining basis of that conviction.

  • http://herdgadfly.blogspot.com/ gadfly

    It looks here like Sheriff Joe is not the only Arizonan to act "inappropriately" recently.

  • Michael

    2 issues. There is attorney client privilege. An agent for the prosecutor can't just go rifling through the defense's work product. What Stoddard did should land him in jail otherwise we should skip the trial and take anyone arrested to a judge for sentencing.

    Also,Sheriff Joe and gang will arrest groups of people for being Hispanic and jail them until they can prove they are Americans. No crime needed. Hispanic Americans should be forced to carry passports while working.

    I'm not fond of the idea of arresting groups of people and have them prove their innocent.

  • markm

    Ian: Only if you don't count the crimes Arpaio and his PD are getting away with...