Free Minds & Free Markets

Arizona Lawyer Accused of Misconduct for Releasing Video of Police Beating His Client Bloody

Is police body cam footage part of the "public record"?

|||Screenshot via YouTube/ and The Arizona RepublicScreenshot via YouTube/ and The Arizona RepublicBret Royle is an Arizona defense attorney currently representing Jose Luis Conde, a 32-year-old man who was pulled over in a traffic stop and later accused of drug possession. In June, Royle gave the Arizona Republic body camera footage that showed officers in the Mesa Police Department beating his client during a January arrest. Reports say Conde was unarmed at the time. He was repeatedly punched and elbowed while being handcuffed just before officers said they found cocaine in his socks. The footage also captures at least one officer mocking Conde as he lies in a pool of his own blood on the floor of the hospital.

Now, the Maricopa County prosecutor is accusing Royle of misconduct.

Prosecutor Riley Figueroa filed a memo to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Frank Moskowitz saying that Royle engaged in misconduct when he shared the body camera footage with journalists. She reportedly cited disclosure standards found in Rule 15.4(d) of the Arizona Court Rules of Criminal Procedure and asserted that Royle was only allowed to speak publicly on "information contained in a public record," via ER 3.6. of the Rules of Professional Conduct found in the Arizona state bar.

Arizona Republic reported that it was of legal opinion that Figueroa's claim was not only an intimidation tactic against Royle, but an attempt to "create a double standard between prosecutors and defense lawyers over who can speak publicly about a public record." Additionally, lawyers argued that the video in question was to be fully considered "public record."

"The prosecutor and police are arms of the state. If the prosecutor and police are allowed to speak about a case to the media, defense counsel should be afforded the same rights and privileges to defend their clients under the law," criminal defense attorney Benjamin Taylor told the publication. Private attorney Tom Irvine said, "The entire policy of the County Attorney's Office is to chill public access from cases, which is not supported by state law." While speaking on the body camera footage, Irvine also argued that "just because it's an exhibit in a case, it doesn't change the fact that it's a public record."

Royle has since asked for the memo to be stricken from the record, saying, "The State's filing serves no purpose other than to disparage defense counsel's conduct in this case, a purpose it disguises as alleged 'concerns about potential jury tainting' and 'preserving the record.'"

After the initial release of the video, the police department touted a "a process for transparency that requires full disclosure which is not always achievable by the media" in a Facebook post.

Photo Credit: Screenshot via YouTube/ and The Arizona Republic

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Sounds like some precedent could be coming down the line in a few years.

    I also suspect the lawyer released the video to support claims in the current case that police have an attitude problem with his client.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    After the initial release of the video, the police department touted a "a process for transparency that requires full disclosure which is not always achievable by the media" in a Facebook post.

    Um, okay.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    Are you saying the media doesn't have a narrative to push and is above selectively editing in order to present their narrative?

    It may be shitty behavior by the police that deserves (but probably won't get) punishment but that doesn't justify adding to the current trend of trying everything before the media/twitter mobs.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    You got a problem with the People supervising their public servants?

  • ||

    Having the entire footage out there makes it hard to push a narrative.

  • croaker||

    Sounds like all of Maricopa County needs to be placed under federal supervision. Fuckers just don't learn.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Given recent revelations about Federal Law Enforcement's involvement in an effort to spy on a political candidate, why do you think that turning the county over to the Feds would constitute an improvement?

    My personal experience of LEOs has been (with one single exception) good. I like cops in general. But the 'we are besieged' mentality of government on all levels rally needs to be addressed. With a cluebat. Seriously, people, the citizens to not work for YOU, you work for US.

    Aside; the exception was universally loathed in his own department, which intended to fire him as soon as they could.

  • sarcasmic||

    Seriously, people, the citizens to not work for YOU, you work for US.

    They work for The Public, which is everyone but you. So any individual citizen they meet works for them, because they work for everyone else.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Oh, he makes perfect sense. That is, in fact, how many of these government stooges think.

  • sarcasmic||

    Shut up Tulpa.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Because when they are looking at you, you are no longer a citizen in their eyes. You are either a scumbag who won't follow the rules, or an idiot who can't follow the rules. You can tell the difference by how they treat you.

    A scumbag gets shit talked and, at least, a Terry search, maybe much much more. An idiot gets false courtesy and, if lucky, an in loco parentis lecture instead of a summons or worse. Of course, lack of respect for authority in all cases may cause your mileage to vary.

  • Rossami||

    No, he made perfect sense. If that comment came off as gibberish to you (but not, apparently, to anyone else), maybe the problem isn't with the author.

  • Rossami||

    His comment made perfect sense to me.

    Maybe if the comment came across as gibberish to you (but apparently to no one else), you might consider that the problem might not be the author's.

  • Rossami||

    As a side note, there are days I hate the wonky commenting system here. Apologies for the duplicate.

  • ||

    Why do you hate the squirrels?

  • Dillinger||


  • John C. Randolph||

    Riley Figueroa is the kind of cunt who should never be admitted to the bar, let alone trusted with any authority whatsoever.


  • Dillinger||

    >>Now, the Maricopa County prosecutor is accusing Royle of misconduct.

    duh. can't be D.A. if he loses cases

  • Rich||

    After the initial release of the video, the police department touted a "a process for transparency that requires full disclosure which is not always achievable by the media" in a Facebook post.

    A *fake* Facebook post?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    With emotion running high on all sides...

    With the power differential involved, law enforcement cannot be allowed to act on their emotions.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    We have an amazing police department with hard working men and women. We will continue to support one another, keep our great city safe, and provide the highest quality of service to our community members.

    It is interesting which objective the police chief chooses to list first.

  • perlchpr||

    And last, for that matter.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Well, releasing the video probably was some form of lawyerly misconduct.

    But I'm glad he did it anyway.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Shut up Tulpa

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Tsk tsk...such a potty mouth. That explains the shit breath.

  • majil||

    This is why I say " so what " and go on my way when a cop is shot in the face.

  • Brandybuck||

    ""Now, the Maricopa County prosecutor...""

    Maricopa County. Why am I not surprised?

  • Just Say'n||

    Imagine if the lawyers video was removed by YouTube for violating its terms of service or some other weaselly argument. Sure, they would have the right to do it, but it should still piss people off.

    Of course that would never happen, because the algorithms and people in charge only have your best interest at heart and clearly they know what is correct and what isn't- not the market.

  • Cathy L||

    the algorithms and people in charge only have your best interest at heart and clearly they know what is correct and what isn't- not the market.

    The market, in which millions of people continue to use YouTube and Facebook despite their non-freedom-respecting policies, because people are shitty and market outcomes aren't necessarily liberty-maximizing?

  • Just Say'n||

    So if the video has thousands of views and re-tweets and then YouTube takes it down, because, let's say the police department and the FBI complained about it, that would be the market acting?

    So then if people continue to buy American goods despite added costs from tariffs, that's the market acting?

  • Just Say'n||

    People continue to use products for a variety of reason, just because they aren't prioritizing their opposition to tariffs or someone being banned from a platform doesn't mean that "the market has spoken". The market "speaking" would be whether or not people are watching said video or vote out politicians that institute tariffs.

    That's the market. Not media and politicians forcing a platform to restrict something or a politician adding costs to a product.

  • Just Say'n||

    I assure you that if my scenario had actually come to pass (which is more likely than not to occur in the foreseeable future) there will not be a mass exodus from YouTube over the removal of said video.

  • Cathy L||

    Do you not think companies like Google set their policies, like "how closely do we cooperate with governments," based on how they think their customers will respond? If they do that, is that not the market at work? Is the existence of any state presence at all preventing it from being the market at work, or something more specific?

  • Just Say'n||

    What I'm saying is that none of this is a result of the market. This is media and politicians forcing these platforms to silence opinions that have a market, because they don't like them. And a lot of supposed "free marketers" are falling over themselves trying to pretend like that's not happening so they can avoid defending unpopular speech. It's cowardice

  • croaker||

    Happens all the time, usually by the police filing a false takedown claim.

  • Just Say'n||

    And no one has flooded away from YouTube? Well, I guess that's the "market" at work.

    I guess we should just move along then. All is well.

  • Cathy L||

    Uhh yeah. It is the market at work. What else would it be?

    You're the one acting like that should mean "all is well" for some reason. I did say markers didn't necessarily result in maximal liberty.

  • wingnutx||

    Mesa PD being Mesa PD

  • Hank Phillips||

    In 1868, five years before the Republican Comstock laws banned speech, medicine, birth control and "disloyal" publications, Lysander spooner warned against a secret band of robbers and murderers conspiring to control the Political State at gunpoint.

  • tlapp||

    Body cameras are the best thing in a long time. These are public employees and I do believe 99% of the time they will show the police handling the situation properly and end a number of false claims. In the other 1% they will show things such as this incident and get rid of the bad 1%.

  • Cory Crockett||

    Was the drudge junk?


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