Posts tagged ‘Superior Court’

I Simply Cannot Believe This Is Our Chief Law Enforcement Officer

And he keeps getting re-elected by wide margins.  Unbelievable.  

In a performance worthy of a Mafia don, Sheriff Joe Arpaio dissembled under oath today in a disciplinary hearing for disgraced former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and Thomas' ex-underlings, former deputy county attorneys Rachel Alexander and Lisa Aubuchon.

During more than two hours of questioning, mostly by counsel for the State Bar of Arizona, Arpaio's favorite response was, "I don't recall," which he repeated numerous times.

He asserted that he had delegated all authority concerning the investigations of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, county judges, and various other county officials to former Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Arpaio's hand-picked fall guy.

For those who don't live here, I can assure you that at the time, Arpaio took personal credit for everything the department did, using his simply astronomical PR budget.

Here, for example, is one of the key cases Arpaio is being asked to discuss.  He and former county attorney Andrew Thomas waged a war for years against their bosses, the County Supervisors, who frequently had the temerity to try to circumscribe Thomas's and Arpaio's power.  Among other craziness, Thomas, backed by Arpaio, filed a RICO suit against the supervisors.  When a Judge hearing the case, Judge Donahoe, issued some unfavorable rulings in that case, Thomas and Arpaio filed a bribery case against Donahoe, their wacky theory being that since the Supervisors had authorized a new County Court building, this was a bribe to Judge Donahoe, whose court would now be in the new building.  Arpaio claims he had nothing to do with any of this.  Here is his uninvolvement, via the AZ Republic.

 

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas on Wednesday filed criminal charges against Gary Donahoe, presiding criminal judge of Superior Court, accusing him of hindering prosecution, obstructing a criminal investigation and bribery.

The three felony charges relate to Donahoe's handling of criminal investigations into county officials, particularly a controversial court tower under construction in downtown Phoenix.

Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who stood side by side during a news conference Wednesday, have repeatedly questioned the $340 million joint project of the Superior Court and Maricopa County government.

By the way, it is a nice touch, right out of some place like North Korea, for a prosecutor to bring a judge up on charges for "hindering prosecution" merely for issuing a ruling form the bench which wasn't exactly what the prosecutor wanted.  Its more scary when you consider just how many judges truly are in the tank for local prosecutors.

I Guess I Was Wrong

It turns out illegal immigration is responsible for home invasions and murders.  Just not the way you might think.

Pima County Superior Court says a jury has found the leader of an anti-illegal immigrant group guilty in an Arizona home invasion that left a 9-year-old girl and her father dead in what prosecutors say was an attempt to steal drug money to fund border operations.

A Tucson jury found Monday that Shawna Forde was guilty of the May 2009 killings of 29-year-old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia at their home in Arivaca (ayr-uh-VAH'-kuh) a desert community about 50 miles southwest of Tucson and 10 miles north of Mexico.

Awesome Story of the Day

California Cap-and-trade plan may be put on hold because they failed to do an Environmental impact study.  LOLOLOL

The California Air Resources Board violated state environmental law in 2008 when it adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases and again last year when it passed cap-and-trade regulations, a San Francisco Superior Court judge has ruled in a tentative decision.

If the decision is made final, California would be barred from implementing its ambitious plan to combat global warming until it complies with portions of the California Environmental Quality Act, though it is not yet clear what the air board would have to do to be in compliance. The state’s plan, which implements AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, would reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Our Out of Control County Attorney

Radley Balko has a great article on Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, the wingman for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in any number of abuses of power.  I have tried to write about Thomas before, but some of his exploits are so bizarre and complex that they make simple description difficult, but Balko is clearly a better journalist than I and does a good job summarizing some of his most egregious actions.

The common denominator for both Thomas and Arpaio tends to be their near vendetta responses to anyone who either criticizes them or tries to limit their power (ie by denying a search warrant or dismissing one of their cases).

The most recent mess in Maricopa pits Thomas and Apraio against...well, just about everyone else. The two have been squabbling with members of the county board of supervisors for years over the construction of a $341 million county courthouse tower, which both feel is a waste of money. They might have a point. But Arpaio and Thomas are using criminal law as a cudgel in the dispute.

Last month, Thomas indicted two county supervisors on some petty financial disclosure violations. When Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe issued a ruling pertaining to the court tower investigation that Arpaio and Thomas didn't like, Thomas then indicted Donahoe for bribery, on the absurd premise that as a judge who works in the courthouse, Donahoe (who is retiring soon) would have benefited from the new tower. That indictment came shortly after Donahoe held one of Arpaio's deputies in contempt after a highly-publicized incident in which the deputy was caught on video stealing documents from the file of a defense attorney in open court.

Using criminal charges"”or the threat of them"”to silence political opponents has become something of a habit for Thomas. He has indicted more than a dozen public officials who have criticized him or Arpaio. He has launched or threatened criminal investigations into dozens of others, including politicians, columnists, and other media figures who have dared to criticize him or the sheriff. When Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked for a federal investigation of Arpaio's immigration enforcement tactics, Arpaio and Thomas investigated him too, attempting to snoop on Gordon's email, appointment book, and phone records. Thomas even recently threatened to criminally investigate a defense attorney for issuing public statements in support of his client.

These guys are from the bad, statist end of the Republican pond.  Interestingly, Thomas and Arpaio have alienated most of the Republican leadership in Arizona, and rely on their continued popularity with national conservative media and the local populace.   The latter is hard to describe to outsiders.  Its often hard for me to understand.  My best guess is that people ignore Thomas and Arpaio's worst behavior as aimed at people who somehow "don't count," particularly immigrants from Mexico.   Balko quotes Clint Bollack of the Goldwater Institute:

Bolick says their perseverance is also due to the polarizing effects of the immigration debate. Immigration "is extremely divisive," he says. "In the eyes of a lot of people, because they're cracking down on illegal immigrants, Thomas and Arpaio can do no wrong. So there's justification for whatever they do, and any criticism of them on any issue is a betrayal of the cause. It's really unfortunate that it's causing a lot of good people to turn a blind eye to ineffective law enforcement and abuses of power."

I don't want to violate Godwin's law here, but this quote springs to mind about the reactions to Thomas and Arpaio (from a member of the German protestant clergy in the 1930s)

First, the Nazis went after the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew, so I didn't react. Then they went after the Catholics, but I wasn't a Catholic, so I didn't object. Then they went after the worker, but I wasn't a worker, so I didn't stand up. Then they went after the Protestant clergy and by then it was too late for anybody to stand up.

Mistaken Identity

I guess its lucky they didn't send the SWAT team in for her, as she might be dead now:

[Victoria] Aguayo has filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, after she was arrested, indicted, and nearly prosecuted for her "role" in the infamous "Desert Divas" prostitution ring.

One problem: Aguayo was not a "desert diva" and the evidence suggesting she was is laughable at best.

On one of the "Desert Divas'" many Web sites, the agency advertised an "escort" named "Tia." "Tia" is described on the site as being "thin, white, and blonde" and has a tattoo on her stomach that is clearly visible in the topless photo of the "diva" Aguayo's lawyer was kind enough to send New Times.

Phoenix Police Detective Christie Hein identified Aguayo as "Tia" based on the photo on the Web site when she arrested her on August 28, 2008, the lawsuit claims.

We've seen pictures of both "Tia" and Aguayo and we gotta say if Aguayo can be identified as "thin, white, and blonde," so can Aretha Franklin.

Aguayo is -- to put it politely -- more of a "plus-sized" woman, she's black, and is missing the tattoo that is so clearly visible in the photo of "Tia" on the "Desert Diva" Web site.

Simple, um, mistake, right?

After being arrested, Aguayo spent nearly two months in jail before she was granted a supervised release pending an upcoming trial.

While she was in the clink, Aguayo lost custody of her daughter, Jasmine, and has since been unable to get her back.

If Joe Arpaio Says Your Guilty, That's Good Enough For Us

This is kind of scary -- shoplifters denied trial by jury.  A judge seems to think its too much of a hassle to do follow that old Sixth Amendment thingie. We've gutted the rest of our constitutional protections, why not jury trial too?

An Arizona appeals court is set to issue a ruling today about whether people accused of shoplifting are entitled to a jury trial. The decision stems from a Peoria woman who got pinched for shoplifting and was wrongly denied a jury trial by a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge last year, CBS 5 (KPHO) reports.

Because the penalties for shoplifting are often relatively minimal -- probation, or community service -- the judge seemed to think calling in a jury wasn't necessary and said a jury trial for shoplifters was open for debate.

Footloose, Arizona Style

At San Tan Flats, you can dance if you want to:

Outdoor dancing is now allowed at San Tan Flat.

Pinal County Superior Court Judge William O'Neil Wednesday
overturned the decision of the county board of supervisors that said
the restaurant was operating illegally by allowing patrons to dance to
live music on its back patio.

The case, which stretched over two years, drew national attention.


The supervisors' decision stemmed from a 1962 ordinance that banned outdoor dance halls.

Dale Bell, owner of the restaurant, contended the county violated his rights to run his business.

He sued the county for $1.

"That $1 is about freedom and about civil liberties and the government not being allowed to overreact," Bell said Wednesday.

Pinal County threatened to fine Bell $700 for each day he violated the ordinance.

$100 Million Incentive to Move About 1 Mile

The City of Phoenix is subsidizing a mall developer to the tune of $100 million dollars.  Why?

Desperate to keep another Nordstrom store out of Scottsdale, the City
of Phoenix put together a $100 million incentive deal to lure the
upscale retailer to the new CityNorth development.

That picture emerged in Maricopa County Superior Court arguments Monday over the constitutionality of the package.

That deal bought a parking deck -- at $30,000 per parking spot.

You see, the developer and its allies in city hall were afraid that Nordstrom's might instead locate their new store waaaaayyyyy over in Scottsdale, probably at the shopping development getting started ... about a mile away and all of one exit further down loop 101, as show below or here.
100milliondollarmove

Here is the gist of it:

At issue in the lawsuit is an agreement between the developers
of CityNorth and the city of Phoenix that enables the developers,
Related Urban Development and the Thomas J. Klutznick Co., to retain
half of the project's sales taxes in exchange for free public parking
spaces in a parking garage. The agreement goes for 11 years or $97.4
million, whichever occurs first.

Now, those of you who are from New York or Boston may be saying -- Hmm, free public parking.  Thats a good deal.  Well, in Phoenix, its absurd.  All the mall parking is free.  All the mall parking garages are free.  Every mall around these two locations provide free parking and parking garages.  In fact, a mall developer would get run out of town on a rail in north Scottsdale or Phoenix for even uttering the words "paid parking."  People freak out around here if the valet parking is not free.  Further, the city is trying to somehow portray that the parking is a useful asset for the community at large.  Look at the Phoenix site above.  Do you see a lot of stuff in the surrounding acres that is demanding a lot of parking?

Effectively, this is all a smoke screen for the city giving a $100 million handout to developers to build something, ie free parking, they already had to build.  And the incremental sales revenue argument is absurd.  All the wealthy Scottsdale folks who want to shop at Nordstrom's are already doing so, or are shopping at nearby Desert Ridge.  Only the worst sort of analysis would show incremental sales from this location - all it will do is shift sales around a bit.

I am reminded of my previous post on the subsidization of business relocations as a prisoners dilemma problem.

 

Good Job Sheriff Joe!

Frequent readers will know that I don't think much of our County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Sheriff Joe gains a ton of PR for himself as the "toughest sheriff in America" and relishes in making jail conditions as miserable as possible.  Recognize that this is the jail that holds many people after arrest but before conviction. 

Now on to the figure mentioned in the Dickerson piece of 2,150
"prison condition" lawsuits since 2004. Anyone with two licks of sense
can go online at pacer.psc.uscourts.gov, or dockets.justia.com,
enter "Arpaio" into the federal court docket, then count the lawsuits
that name "prison conditions" as the cause. Count back to 2004, and as
of mid-December, that number was more than 2,150.

The same search for
the top jail custodians in L.A., New York, Chicago, and Houston nets a
total of only 43 "prison condition" lawsuits.

Remember, those 2,150
lawsuits against Arpaio are only in federal court. There are hundreds
more listed online with the Maricopa County Superior Court, at superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/civilcourtcases/.....

                                       

"For the period January 1, 1993, to [November 29, 2007], the county
has paid $30,039,928.75 on Sheriff Department General Liability
claims," state the docs. "This figure includes all payments, attorney
fees, other litigation expenses, settlements, payments on verdicts,
etc."

Additionally, New Times
asked Crowley how much the lawsuit insurance policy that also covers
the sheriff has cost taxpayers. Crowley croaked, "The county has paid
for General Liability coverage for the period 3-1-95 to 3-1-08 total
premiums of $11,345,609.50."

Keep in mind that this
liability coverage figure is high, in part, because of all those
lawsuit payoffs to relatives of dead inmates.

From 1995 to 1998, the county paid $328,894 a year for an insurance policy with a $1 million deductible.                                       

Today,
Maricopa County pays a yearly premium of $1.2 million for outside
insurance with a $5 million deductible. For any lawsuit that costs $5
million or less, the county foots the entire bill. It's the best policy
the county can buy because of Arpaio's terrible track record.

A Statist View of Rights

In the statist's world, your rights are whatever the state says they are.  You can really see this concept at work in this breathtakingly bad Canadian decision reported by Eugene Volokh:

Richard Warman, a lawyer who worked as an investigatory for the
Canadian Human Rights Commission, often filed complaints against "hate
speech" sites "” complaints that were generally upheld under Canadian
speech restrictions. Fromm, a defender of various anti-Semites and
Holocaust denials, has been publicly condemning Warman for, among other
things, being "an enemy of free speech." Warman sued, claiming that
these condemnations are defamatory.

Friday, the Ontario Superior Court held for Warman
"” chiefly on the grounds that because Warman's claims were accepted by
the legal system, they couldn't accurately be called an attack on free
speech.

This case leaves one's head just spinning with ironies, not the least because it is a great example of how libel law as practiced in many western countries outside the US is itself a great enemy of free speech.  The logic chain used by the judge in this case should make every American appreciative of our Constitutional system and our view of rights as independent of (and if fact requiring protection from) the state:

[25] The implication, as well as the clear of meaning of the words
["an enemy of free speech" and "escalated the war on free speech"], is
that the plaintiff is doing something wrong. The comment "Well, see
your tax dollars at work" also implies that Mr. Warman misused public
funds for this "war on free speech".

[26]  The plaintiff was using legal means to complain of speech that he alleged was "hate" speech.

[27]  The evidence was that Mr. Warman was successful in both the complaint and a libel action which he instituted.

[28] Freedom of expression is not a right that has no boundaries.
These parameters are outlined in various legislative directives and
jurisprudence. I find Mr. Fromm has exceeded these. This posting is
defamatory.

The implication is that there are no fundamental individual rights.  Rights are defined instead by the state and are whatever is reflected in current law.  In this decision, but fortunately not in the US, the law by definition can't be wrong, so taking advantage of a law, in this case to silence various groups, is by definition not only OK, but beyond the ability of anyone to legally criticize.  There is much more, all depressing.  Here is one example of a statement that was ruled defamatory:

Thank you very much, Jason. So, for posting an opinion, the same sort
of opinion that might have appeared in editorial pages in newspapers
across this country, Jason and the Northern Alliance, his site has come
under attack and people who are just ordinary Canadians find themselves
in front of the courts for nothing more serious than expressing their
opinion. This is being done with taxpayers' money. I find that
reprehensible.

OK, so here is my opinion:  Not only is Richard Warman an enemy of free speech, but the Canadian legislature that passed this hate-speech law is an enemy of free speech and the Canadian Supreme Court is an enemy of free speech.  Good enough for you hosers?

I guess I will now have to skip my ski trip to Whistler this year, to avoid arrest at the border.

A Step Forward? Or Just Sideways?

A Judge has ruled that the Kaleidescape movie server (basically a big box that rips and stores DVDs on hard disk) did not violate its licensing agreement with the DVD-CCA:

Kaleidescape argued, first and foremost, that nothing in the DVD-CCA
licensing agreement prohibits the development of products that allow
users to copy their DVDs.

Indeed, that's exactly what Judge Leslie C. Nichols ruled today in
the non-jury trial at the Downtown Superior Court of Santa Clara in San
Jose, Calif. There was no breach of contract.

That seems to be good news for those of us who like the server concept and would like to make copies of our DVDs for our own (fair) use.  However, the judge seems to have sidestepped the copyright and fair use issues, such that this ruling probably will turn out to be pretty narrow and not constitute a useful precedent.

Because of this ruling, the Judge did not have to get into copyright
issues, so the Kaleidescape ruling has no copyright implications. It is
not a statement on the legality of ripping DVDs.

There was the possibility that copyright issues could have come into
play. The DVD-CCA submitted to the Court a particular document, the
"CSS General Specifications," that it asserted was part of the
licensing agreement.

The CSS General Specifications document includes wording about
thwarting the "unauthorized copying" of DVD's. The issue of what
constitutes an unauthorized copy could have come up, but Judge Nichols
ruled that the document in fact is not part of the DVD-CCA licensing
agreement.