Showdown in Marikafka County

Today is the deadline by which Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe gave Dep. Adam Stoddard to apologize for swiping documents from a defense attorney's file in open court last month. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who, oddly, is speaking at Arizona State University's journalism school tonight) has vowed that Stoddard will not apologize.

Arizona freelance journalist Nick Martin broke this story, and lays out the delicously intriguing stakes:

Earlier this month, Arpaio vowed that his young officer would not abide by the ruling, saying, “Superior Court judges do not order my officers to hold press conferences.”

That same day, Liddy announced the sheriff’s office planned to ask the Arizona Court of Appeals to intervene in the case. But as of Sunday night, Liddy had not yet filed the appeal.

On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office asked Donahoe to delay the deadline for the apology so the appeal could still be filed. But so far, no delay has been granted...

Even with the Phoenix area’s unusual politics and bizarre history, the events leading up to today create a scenario unlike any the region has seen in quite some time – if ever.

For one, it sets up the possibility that Stoddard could ignore Donahoe’s order outright and force the judge to send him to jail for contempt of court. The jailing of an active member of law enforcement in Maricopa County is unprecedented in recent memory.

It also raises the question of whether Arpaio, who runs the county jails and has balked at the judge’s order, would agree to lock up one of his own men. If he refuses, Donahoe could take the extraordinary step of asking another agency to step in or else go another route entirely. It’s anybody’s guess.

I can't think of another case where a judge has ordered someone jailed for contempt and the police department has refused to carry out the order. I'm not sure what would happen next. A duel? Arm wrestling?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I can't think of another case where a judge has ordered someone jailed for contempt and the police department has refused to carry out the order. I'm not sure what would happen next. A duel? Arm wrestling?

    Actually, I think Donahoe puts on a Judge Dredd costume, declares himself "The Law" and starts gunning down Arpaio's deputies.

  • ||

  • ||

    Judge Dredd reference, FTW!

    Arpaio is really becoming an embarrassment to Maricopa county. It's really not that bad here. Now I know how those liberal that apologized for Bush to foreigners felt. -_-

  • ||

    I'm not sure what would happen next. A duel? Arm wrestling?

    If history is any guide, Arpaio will use his prosecutorial friends to start digging dirt on the relevant people in the case to pressure them.

  • ||

    Art-P.O.G.,

    You know the score, pal. You're not cop, you're little people!

  • ||

    "So no choice?"

    "No choice, pal!"

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    With any luck, it could be the decline and fall of Sheriff Joe Arpiggo.

  • hmm||

    A duel? Arm wrestling?

    Bench warrant. Followed up by the officers address and the information that any citizen effecting a citizen arrest will be protected from civil and criminal litigation.

  • ||

    Call in the Federal Marshals!!

  • hmm||

    I'd have more faith in the people than the feds.

  • DADIODADDY||

    SWAT, baby, SWAT

  • Tonio||

    IANAL, but I believe citizens only have arrest power for misdemeanors. Anyone? John?

    Since this is a matter of Arizona law, I don't think the feds would get involved. Arizona Department of Public Safety (equivalent to Highway Patrol or State Police) or most likely.

  • hmm||

    Okay, how about angry armed mob? Either way works for me.

  • ||

    There's a federal charge that could be applied. Depriving someone of their civil rights under color of authority is a federal crime. By stealing that paper, the deputy was interfering with the attorney-client privilege.

    -jcr

  • Thomas||

    Maybe you just should have written out "I am not a lawyer". The acronym is too funny.

  • John Berger||

    I think a duel would be pretty sweet personally or for an better entertainment value, do it up American Gladiator style. I'd just love to see any public official dodging tennis balls traveling at 120 mph, but preferably with no barricades or anything. I'd prefer they not get a chance to dodge. Perhaps you could have town hall meetings where they were strapped to a chair and if they lied: tennis ball to the nuts.
    // end fantasy

  • ||

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who, oddly, is speaking at Arizona State University's journalism school tonight)

    I'd say he's going for a little pre-emptive intimidation.

  • ||

    Oh, sorry.  I thought you said Arpaio was speaking oddly at ASU tonight.

  • ||

    I can't think of another case where a judge has ordered someone jailed for contempt and the police department has refused to carry out the order. I'm not sure what would happen next.

    Hopefully, it will involve U S Marshals.

  • ||

    Alright, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Deputy Adam Stoddard. Go get him.

  • hmm||

    You forgot the hilarious part about the sissy gun then referencing a Glock as a non sissy gun.

    that was the funniest part

  • ||

    "I...don't...bargain!"

  • ||

    Don't need marshals. Just get the state police involved.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    If I am not mistaken the propper course of action would be another County Sherrif's dept and prosecutor's office being given jurisdiction. The State police have not authority (at least in CO) when it comes to something like that. Also, the feds don't either (not that this means anything). There was a case in somehwere (I though Pueblo) a while back where a county sherrif arrested two FBI agents who would not leave his crime scene. The FBI did not bother defending them and they got a suspended sentence or something, wish I could find that damn story.
    Wishful Thinking

  • hmm||

    Maybe Bighorn Wyoming where agents have to check in with the sheriff or Nye County Nevada where a sheriff ran agents out of town. There was a public uprising in Idaho over some game and wildlife shenanigans as well where federal agents were run out of town.

    Not sure on any legal status of the issues, but I don't think the federal agents wanted to test their luck.

  • Old RPM Daddy||

    Could somebody remind me again just what it was Swiper was looking for when Swiper did his Swiping (Aww mann!)?

    Yes, I could probably look it up, but I'm lazy.

  • Other Matt||

    That's the rub. They can't say what he was looking for without the defendant giving up his atty client priv. It really sucks.

  • ||

    Oh please please please have there be a showdown between Arpaio's people and the state cops or even better the feds.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

  • ||

    Hey Epi, you don't by chance drive a '97 Mazda Millenia, do you?

  • ||

    Nope. Why?

  • ||

    Cops are looking for one. They'll probably blow it up then determine if that was their guy or not.

  • ||

    For the shooting yesterday? No, I drive a 1980 Datsun 210. Kinda vintage. There are probably only, like, two in the whole city.

  • ||

    Do you keep it covered when not driving it?

  • ||

    Absolutely. I don't want just anyone stumbling across it.

  • ||

    I'd like a three-way duel, among the judge, the sheriff, and some fed. À la The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

  • hmm||

    Where's the nearest fort? If I'm sure one party will be able to convince the army to loan them some tanks.

  • ||

    They MUST send in the ATF. It would be just too perfect.

  • ||

    The jailing of an active member of law enforcement in Maricopa County is unprecedented in recent memory.

    This seems a bit lazy. Is it unprecedented or not? How long ago is "recent memory"?

    Still, much better than the investigative reporting I've done this month...

  • DADIODADDY||

    well everything that happens is now unprecedented...at least according to Barry O.

  • anon||

    really, who wins in a contest of stupid?

  • hmm||

    The people watching and being entertained. (I have a lot of stupid friends, trust me on this one.)

  • ||

    The least stupid?

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, if Arpaio were to refuse a lawful court order to execute an arrest of a suspect whose location was known, that would be a vastly more serious offense than the one committed by his deputy.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that what his deputy did was outrageous, but if Arpaio acts in the way you're speculating it would basically be public insurrection. It would be one step removed from an act of secession.

  • CaptainSmartass||

    If Arpaio refuses to execute a lawful order from a judge, the judge really won't have any choice but to hold the Sheriff in contempt and have him thrown in jail, too. If his deputies refuse to jail their boss, the judge would be within his authority to call in the State police and/or the FBI.

    I really hope Sheriff Joe refuses to jail the guy. I've got a bunch of left-over popcorn from Halloween that'll go perfectly with this debacle.

  • ||

    Maybe the Attorney General will recommend sending in the National Guard to impose martial law.

  • hmm||

    They should issue a bench warrant and then head to the local Home Depot and give all the guys looking for work a job for the day. Posse member is a legitimate job, probably pays okay too.

    Damnit that probably makes me racist.

  • ||

    I think we need some blue helmets for this one.

  • hmm||

    The UN can solve anything. Without guns or an ability to fight back.

    Then again the UN couldn't survive a friday night at a the local dirt floor redneck bar.

  • ||

    Actually, if Arpaio were to refuse a lawful court order to execute an arrest of a suspect whose location was known, that would be a vastly more serious offense than the one committed by his deputy.

    I think Arpaio (or someone smart on his staff) would argue that the court order was unlawful, and that as coequal branches of government, the executive branch can and should ignore unlawful orders by the judicial branch.

  • CaptainSmartass||

    Oh man! A constitutional deathmatch! That would be fun to watch.

  • Mo||

    You assume Arpaio employs someone smart on his staff.

  • ||

    Some people fear the constitutional crisis. The Supreme Court is adept at rending reality and the Constitution into impossible shapes to avoid them. Me? I love 'em. Wish we had one every month.

  • Andrew Jackson||

    John Marshall has made his
    decision, now let him enforce it.

  • ||

    It's appropriate that this is happening out there in the desert southwest. Perfect for an Ennio Morricone soundtrack while Sheriff Joe stares down the judge with steely, unblinking eyes.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Word to Tuco Benavidez Juan Pacifico Ramirez...known as The Rat.

  • ||

    Do you think any of the local news outlets would cover Arpaio's perp-walk?

  • ||

    That would be so cool. Slow it way down, make it kind of grainy, zoom in on his face and freeze it in black and white.

  • ||

    I can't think of another case where a judge has ordered someone jailed for contempt and the police department has refused to carry out the order. I'm not sure what would happen next. A duel? Arm wrestling?

    A complete collapse of the justice System.

    I wonder if the state has any power to intervene. In Washington State it is pretty clear that counties are franchises of the State and can be defunded, shut down and replaced if the State so wished it. Not sure about Arizona.

  • Warty||

    This had better end with Sheriff Joe driving an armored bus through downtown Phoenix. Through a gauntlet, if you will.

  • ||

    No. More like his car blowing up as he drives away from the judge, who says under his breath "A man has got to know his limitations".

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    This will end like some sort of action movie/thriller. I'm sure of it.

  • ||

    It's got all the signs, that's for sure.

  • ||

    or an episode of Cops

  • ||

    Just last year, the DOJ refused to enforce contempt citations issued by Congress for witnesses in the US Attorney firing scandal. Not exactly the same thing, but a very recent example of an executive refusing to execute his or her duties and daring the other branch to make him.

  • Mad Max||

    I don't know the details of the political and legal situation in Arizona, but if possible, the best thing would be for the judge to call on the assistance of some police agency which has tangled with Arpaio in the past. I suppose, of course, it's possible that Arpaio gets along fine with all the other police agencies, but in case he hasn't . . .

  • Mad Max||

    Or maybe the judge could call on the aid of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Those guys can scare cops so badly that they stop giving stuffed animals to children - obviously the CPSC must employ ultra-elite SWAT units.

  • ||

    FTW!

  • Mad Max||

    Accuse Arpaio of giving away teddy bears at some Toys for Tots event. The CPSC will summon Rambo himself.

  • Hearts of Lignin||

    Pro Libertate|11.30.09 @ 4:02PM|

    I'd like a three-way duel, among the judge, the sheriff, and some fed. À la The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

    One thing for sure: with Sheriff Joe involved, it won't be a MexicanStandoff.

  • ||

    Oh, good point.

  • Bingo||

    lmao

  • ||

    I think Arpaio (or someone smart on his staff) would argue that the court order was unlawful,

    Of course, since he didn't appeal the order in a timely fashion, that argument's not going to get very far. At the end of the day, its the courts who determine the lawfulness of orders, not the cops.

    and that as coequal branches of government, the executive branch can and should ignore unlawful orders by the judicial branch.

    Oh, that'll fly, especially since an order of the judicial branch that hasn't been vacated is pretty much a lawful order until vacated. Essentially, he will be saying that obeying judges is a voluntary, discretionary act by law enforcement.

  • ||

    So, what odds are the bookies giving of Sheriff Joe dying in a shootout with the state cops or the FBI within the next year and a half?

    -jcr

  • ||

    Nah. I figure he's a coward at heart. I see it going down something like what happened at the end of Shawshank...

  • ||

    The one who "cried like a little girl" or the one who put a bullet through his head?

  • Brother J||

    BTW, the assistant county attorney referred to in the article, Tom Liddy, is the son of G. Gordon Liddy. No real bearing but just an interesting fact.

  • ||

    Jesus, if that acorn didn't fall far from the tree, that is the LAST human being I would want to fuck with.

  • Medic001||

    Am i in another universe. When does a podunk Sheriff out weight a judge?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement