Criminal Justice

Marikafka County, Arizona: Now With More Kafka!


Freelance journalist Nick Martin has an update on Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff's Deputy Adam Stoddard, who last October was caught on video swiping a file in open court from defense attorney defense attorney Joanne Cuccia.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe held a hearing on the matter, and on Tuesday ordered Stoddard to hold a press conference to apologize. It's a weak and odd way of admonishing Stoddard for such a brazen trespass on attorney-client privilege (not to mention Stoddard's arguable violation of a number of other laws, rights, and rules of procedure).

But even that was too much for Stoddard's boss, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday it will be a cold day in Maricopa County before one of his officers apologizes for taking an attorney's confidential files…

"Superior Court judges do not order my officers to hold press conferences," Arpaio said in a news release. "I decide who holds press conferences and when they are held."

An attorney for the sheriff, Tom Liddy, went even further, saying it's unlikely Stoddard will go to jail for defying the judge's order. "Folks should not hold their breaths," he said.

But the sheriff's office, which runs the county jails, doesn't plan to defy the order outright. Liddy said the agency will challenge it in a higher court.

The attorney said the order violates Stoddard's rights to free speech.

The judge "cannot order somebody to lie," Liddy said. "Of course he's not sorry for doing his job…It's absurd on his face."

I hate to admit it, but Arpaio might have a point here. Not with respect to Stoddard's conduct, which was reprehensible, but with Judge Donahoe's order. You get the impression Donahoe was trying to duck any serious sanction. He knew he had to address the seriousness of Stoddard's actions, but didn't want to actually hold him in contempt (at the hearing, Donahoe emphasized the "fine line" he has to walk between honoring the officers who secure his courtroom and holding Stoddard accountable).

But by bizarrely ordering the obstinate Stoddard to hold a press conference, he probably just made the whole situation a lot worse.

NEXT: Go to Every Party, Rob The D.J....

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  1. The continual re-election of Joe Arpaio is a fine example of democracy in action. Yay, mob rule.

    1. Don’t diss democracy, yo. All of our house liberals agree- if the mob wants it, they gets it!

    2. Sometimes, the voters are overruled.

      As consolation prizes go, Louis Butler can’t complain. After being twice rejected by Wisconsin voters for a place on the state Supreme Court, the former judge has instead been nominated by President Obama to a lifetime seat on the federal district court. If he is confirmed, Wisconsin voters will have years to contend with the decisions of a judge they made clear they would rather live without.

      Judge Butler served on the state Supreme Court for four years, enough time to have his judicial temperament grow in infamy. Having first run unsuccessfully in 2000, he was appointed by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to the seat vacated by Justice Diane Sykes in 2004. But after serving four years, voters had seen enough of his brand of judicial philosophy, making him the first sitting justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in four decades to lose a retention election last year.

      In Ferdon v. Wisconsin Partners, he drew the rage of doctors and others when he dismantled the state’s limit on noneconomic damages in medical malpractices cases?the kind of tort reform that had been serving the state well. Business groups were likewise floored by his decision in Thomas v. Mallet, which allowed “collective liability” in lead paint cases?making any company a potential target, regardless of whether they made the paint in question. His nickname as a public defender was “Loophole Louis,” a name that stuck when, as a judge, he was considered to be soft on crime.…..61888.html

      1. …and this has exactly what to do with Arizona troopers swiping defense attorney paperwork?

        1. First sentence, buddy. Come on, Geotpf, “Sometimes, the voters are overruled” is that so hard?

    3. We’ll make an an-cap of you yet, NutraSweet.

      1. I’m really not much of a joiner.

        1. More of a jerker.

          1. I’m not sending you a video. Please stop asking before I have to have a talk with the editors about your inappropriate behavior.

  2. Every day, Sheriff Joe Arpaio wakes from disturbing dreams to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin.

  3. Gary Donahoe is probably one of those judges who makes convicted drunk drivers stand at busy intersections wearing sandwich boards that say “TOWN DRUNK.”

  4. But by bizarrely ordering the obstinate Stoddard to hold a press conference, he probably just made the whole situation a lot worse.

    Call me cynical, but maybe Stoddard did this knowing that the deputy wouldn’t comply and would appeal. That means that a higher level Judge, presumably not dependent on Arapaio for security, takes the blame.

    So much for rule of law in Maricopa, though.

  5. Every day, Sheriff Joe Arpaio wakes from disturbing dreams to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin.

    Thank you, CN, this is one of the funniest things I’ve read in awhile.

  6. Welcome to Maricopa County – America’s experiment in Banana Republic governance!

  7. Donahoe emphasized the “fine line” he has to walk between honoring the officers who secure his courtroom and holding Stoddard accountable

    IOW, please don’t hate me and turn my daily existence as a judge into a living Hell.

    But seriously, I think I see some defensible reasoning here. Given the choice between imposing a sanction that’s too light but will (under normal circumstances) be obeyed, and imposing an appropriately harsh sanction that will not be obeyed and that you ultimately have no power to enforce, a lot of people would say the former is preferable.

  8. This story is probably the most insane thing I’ve read all year. The only thing that could possibly top this would be if Arpaio deputized Steve Smith.

    1. Yup. Everybody is a moron in this story. The trooper who stole the paperwork, the judge who ordered the press conference, and of course, good ol’ Sheriff Dumbass.

  9. Off topic but still in theme:

    Non lethal my ass. Here is another one for you Radley

    Give them an inch…

    1. …and this has exactly what to do with Arizona troopers swiping defense attorney paperwork? ;0)

  10. Judge not, lest ye be not adequately protected whilst judging others.

  11. Let’s give the deputy credit for not tasing the judge or killing her dog.

    1. Nice 😀 . Did you see the real Steve Smith in the “Chat” thread by any chance?

      1. Confirmation hearing? What are they confirming? The lack of hikers in his area?

      2. By the way, there’s a blank on the blog that I’m totally not link-whoring.

        1. Link whore! Link whore! (by popular demand)

  12. Everybody is a moron in this story.

    And yet, they all have the power of life and death over other human beings (though it’s probably a stretch to imply that Sheriff Arpaio is in any way human).

  13. I am truly surprised someone has not taken that punk Arpaio out yet! Who does this PUNK cop think he is? I mean really. Is he God Almighty himself? Seems he thinks he is, lowlife pUNK.


    1. Go back to your tent and pink underwear, Jimbo…

      I’d wager that over 90% of Americans like the law and order approach of Sheriff Joe and wish he was in charge of law enforcement in their county!

      1. dude you got had by anonbot…it’s painful, I know but you’ll figure it out! 🙂

        1. ignore my really bad use of the comma…(shame)

      2. I’d say it’s more like 50% of the populace.

        I know people who live near Phoenix who hate Arpaio. He’s not universally loved.

  14. Occasionally, Anonymity Guy is actually a good commenter.

  15. whoa, hold on there Robobot. You may start getting people to think you’re alive…alive, I say!!!

  16. Occasionally, Anonymity Guy is actually a good commenter.

    Yeah. You need to write yourself a better algorithm to stay on top, Art.

    1. Art the Anonymity Cyborg?

      1. If all my cybernetic enhancements improved was my ability to spout often inane, always glib spam, I’d be OK with that.

  17. Maybe this was a clever trap on the part of the judge. Now the Sheriff is on record saying he’ll refuse to abide by a court order. If that isn’t showing contempt for the court I don’t know what is. The judge should order that Sheriff Joe be taken into custody immediately and jailed for whatever the maximum length is for showing contempt of court.

  18. And so the Sherrif’s department has established the minimum they can get away with without being punished.

    What will they test the limits of the envelope with next?

  19. That Sheriff Joe continues to get re-elected after the James Seville case is amazing. Even more amazing is that Seville got an acquittal.

    We need to clone Radley Balko and send Balko 2.0 to Marikafka County; the local press obviously needs some backup.

    1. What has Balko 2.0 done to deserve such a hideous fate as living in Maricopa County?

      1. ONE clone?! I’d like to see a thousand or more.

        And, Stormy, no one said a clone’s life is easy.

  20. Check out the video. I don’t have the sound on but it looks like the judge makes no attempt to stop the deputy.

    If I was the judge I would have interrupted the defense and ask the deputy what he thought he was doing.

  21. The judge and the sheriff and the deputy have all managed to cover themselves in shame here. C’mon, judge, grow a pair.

    1. Agreed, but I have to blame the judge first for letting it happen. The courtroom belongs to the judge since they can makes some of their own rules and hold you in contempt for violating those rules. And I’m referring to silly rules like no hat in my courtroom. It’s the judges domain, the buck should stop there.

  22. I really don’t fucking understand this.

    The officer took a privileged document from the lawyer/client. The documents had already been overviewed to ensure that there weren’t any dangers, contra what the offending officer said.

    I really don’t see the issue here. He stole privileged material. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH OUR SOCIETY?!?

  23. Joe Arpaio would make an excellent Supreme Court Justice.

    1. Yeah, because nothing says liberal like Joe Arpaio.

  24. All of our house liberals agree- if the mob wants it, they gets it!

    Only if it’s a Blue Team mob.

    1. Right! And I don’t think it’s the blue team mob that supports Arpaio.

  25. I’ve got some interesting and pithy observations on this matter. Please be at the City Hall at 11:30 A.M. on Saturday.

  26. Seems to me that the First Amendment issue could be easily avoided by ordering the Sheriff’s Department to apologize. I think a nice full-page ad, laying out what happened, with heartfelt apologies from the Sheriff’s Department, with a picture of Joe at the bottom, would do nicely.

    Where’s the First Amendment violation in that?

    C’mon, judge, if you can’t grow at least one testicle, would a couple of neurons be too much to ask?

    1. You don’t want to know what happened to the last judge who tried that.

  27. Anyone notice the sheriff’s celebrity attorney?

  28. Arpaio is selfish and self centered. His actions are purposeful and deceitful. He accepts no authority whether it comes from the federal government, state laws, or the courts. Any other citizen would be considered psychopathic to behave as he does and would be incarcerated. He is an embarrassment to his profession and not a role model. He is just another racist, armed, thug with a badge who seeks to intimidate both the powerless and the powerful in our society. Treat the sheriff’s deputy in the same manner that you would treat a defendant who removed papers from the prosecutor’s folder during a trial. That would provide some measure of justice. I would imagine that a defendant might face both contempt and felony theft charges.

    1. both the powerless and the powerful in our society

      There’s no such thing as “the powerful” for him. NOBODY Tells Sheriff Joe What to Do!

      1. What, you didn’t know “the powerful” was his middle name?

  29. Jordan: Don’t diss democracy, yo. All of our house liberals agree- if the mob wants it, they gets it!

    Hot on the entrails of the 8-year Bush Cult, that’s an astounding comment. Yeah, it’s the liberals supporting the mob, as opposed to those.. um.. tea party mobs in Virginia trying to burn political leaders in effigy. Project much?

    1. Weak stuff, bro.

  30. If the deputy does appeal the order, and the reviewing court does accept the First Amendment argument and strike down the order, isn’t it likely that the reviewing court will either directly discipline the deputy or remand with guidance on appropriate sanctions?

    Which is to say, it seems like Sheriff Joe is playing a rather dumb game since no court is going to allow the deputy’s actions to stand without some form of sanction. The apology would have ended the controversy with no particular impact on Sheriff Joe. Now, when the judiciary doles out the punishment on the Deputy (which it will), Sheriff Joe will have hitched his wagon to the inevitably losing party. In other words, challenging the judge’s order on First Amendment grounds doesn’t seem to win the Deputy or the Sheriff anything.

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