Bailiffs behaving badly…

…Well, maybe not so much a bailiff, but a courtroom deputy.  A report out of Maricopa County, Arizona amazingly shows Detention Officer Adam Stoddard taking a document from defence counsel’s files while she argues during a sentencing hearing.

While defence attorney Joanne Cuccia addresses the judge, the officer can be seen rifling through her file on the defence table. He then calls over another officer – again, still while Cuccia’s back is turned – to whom he passes a document from the file. Amazingly, this happens with neither Cuccia’s knowledge nor the judge’s, until the defendant himself speaks up!

As Cuccia attempts to assert her attorney-client privilege, the judge appears to want to defer to the officer’s discretion as to the extent of his duties. As reported by Heat City, the officer justified his search of the file and the taking of the document by the presence of certain “keywords” that led him to believe the defendant was a security risk. In a hearing that continues this week, the judge deciding the matter, has refused to consider potential contempt of court charges against the officers unless the contents of the document are revealed to evaluate any “keyword” – i.e. unless the defendant waives attorney-client privilege. The very privilege the officers are accused of violating. Bailiffs behaving badly? Attorney-client catch-22? In Maricopa County, Arizona I guess we’ll find out this week…

5 Comments on "Bailiffs behaving badly…"

  1. anti_fascist_freedom_fighter | November 12, 2009 at 4:10 am |

    Could Judge Donahoe be bought and paid for by the Sheriff’s department? If not, how can you explain why he is bending over backwards, feigning confusion and going into wild contortions to let two dirty cops walk free? If he isn’t on the take, then he hasn’t the stomach for throwing the book at two idiots who have virtually begged to be thrown out of the Sheriff’s department. Either way, Judge Donahoe should hang up his robe and look for other work.

    Watching the video of Stoddard in action, we see Stoddard stand for about a minute staring at the defense table. He is about 15 feet away, and cannot possibly claim he was able to read anything from that distance. There is nothing in “Plain View” that Stoddard can see from 15 feet away. Lozano’s attorney, Joanne Cuccia has her back turned, having left her file closed and unattended on the defense table, with no officer anywhere near enough to read the file. She as every right to assume that she has a reasonable expectation of privacy as to the contents of the closed file.

    But now Stoddard walks across the room, between the defense tables, and stops to look down at the defense table at the closed file lying there, and stands reading a small part of a page, which was sticking out of the file. Stop the tape. Let’s first ask, at this moment, does Stoddard have the right to do this? Does the defendant and the attorney have a reasonable right of privacy to assume that their papers and effects, in a closed file on the defense table and being used in the PROCESS of defending the accused in front of the judge, should be protected from police scrutiny? Do they have the right to assume that any papers found on the defense table in open court, in a closed file, cannot be used to compel the defendant to testify or confess against himself? Ask yourself, could the prosecutor, who was sitting five feet away, while the defense counsel had her back turned and was arguing her case, go and take the defense file and read it, pull papers from it, use those papers as evidence? No, that would be outrageous. If we agree that the prosecution cannot do that, then this sheriff’s deputy (who is an agent of the state, and therefore an agent of the prosecutor’s office) cannot possibly have the right to take a page from the defense file and give it to the prosecutor. There is no possible excuse, or reason, for Officer Stoddard to approach that file and begin reading it for evidence of a crime.

    I believe the defense absolutely has a reasonable expectation of privacy to believe that the papers inside the defense file, lying on the defense table, during trial and while the defense counsel is arguing before the bar, are absolutely secure from police observation and seizure in the situation described above. Even if a small, legible portion of a page protrudes from a closed file, the attorney is entitled to believe that this paper can reasonably be considered to be private and secure from scrutiny and from seizure. This is bolstered by the fact that as between an attorney and his client, there exists an inviolate right of attorney/client confidentiality, and a right of the accused to not to be compelled to give evidence against himself in court. While papers carelessly left in “plain view” in a restaurant might constitute a waiver of the right of confidentiality (if an officer passed by) I submit that there is an inviolate right for a defense attorney to leave open papers on the defense table in a courtroom, and not to have them observed or seized by a police officer, for any reason, especially while defense counsel has left the papers unattended while arguing at the bar. If this is not so, it would instead mean that the STATE can put cameras over the defense table in the courtroom, or install microphones in the defense chair backs to intercept whispers between defense counsel and the accused, or can surround the defense table with officers (which is almost exactly what happened here) who could open files and take pages to copy to use against the accused. The state would be able to seize any document an attorney brought to court, could seize any notes, or any communication between the defendant and his attorney. The state could overhear any whisper or communication between the accused and his counsel. Taken to it’s logical extreme, defense counsel would have to come to court without any papers, and not speak to the accused during trial. Imagine trying to defend your client, if every conversation between the attorney and accused were to be used in court against him, or if every document between you and your attorney could be surreptitiously SEIZED IN COURT from your Attorney’s file and given to the prosecution? Judge Donahue is having TROUBLE making a ruling to find Officer Stoddard’s actions contemptuous of the judicial process. I can’t understand how the Judge doesn’t get it. Regardless of what suspicions the bailiff may have (which is irrelevant) and regardless of what is written on the page (which is likewise irrelevant), the outrageous conduct of this bailiff, in violating the defendant’s constitutional rights of privacy and against self incrimination, in open court no less, is a textbook example of contempt for the constitution and the rule of law.

    I am saying that mere act of Stoddard strolling over and reading the file violated both the attorney’s and the defendants right of privacy, and the defendant’s right against being compelled to make self-incriminating statements. Stoddard observed that Joanne Cuccia was busy defending her case with her back turned to a close file lying on the defense table. Officer Stoddard seized this opportunity to go on “fishing expedition” and moved to a location where he not only could read whatever he could see on the defense table, but where he also would not be observed by Cuccia. This speaks to his mental state. He wanted to go through her file, unobserved by defense counsel. Also note that Stoddard clearly was not looking for, nor did he find, a gun or a bomb or a knife. In the footage, the file clearly doesn’t have any large objects of contraband protruding from it. Stoddard could see paper, and words he wanted to read. He was never concerned with security, he was never concerned with forestalling any clear and present danger. He was instead, after information and only information. He is searching the defense attorney’s file for written evidence to be used against either Lozano or Cuccia. He has no right to violate the defendant’s or the attorney’s right of privacy, so before he even reads one word, Office Stoddard is engaged in an illegal search an seizure at this point, and is violating the defendants rights in plain view of the judge, and in open contempt of the entire judicial process. It doesn’t matter one whit what the words on the paper say. Just sneaking over to the position where he can look at the page, is an act of contempt.

    Officer Stoddard reads for about a minute. What happens after Stoddard reads the small bit of the page he can see? Note that Stoddard does not call officer Campillo over. Note that Stoddard doesn’t alert the judge. Does Officer Stoddard draw his firearm and order Lozano or Cuccia to the floor and make an arrest? No. Why not? Because, at this point in time, he has nothing. He did nothing, so clearly, no evidence of a crime was in “Plain View” on the small portion of text poking out. Instead, Stoddard does something else doesn’t he?

    He clearly doesn’t think he’s in any danger. He clearly doesn’t think the page is coated with military anthrax, or that any weapon is present, because watch what he does next: He then touches the document, and pulls the document from inside of the file, out about 8 inches, and continues to read. In other words, Stoddard is after, and observing, written evidence of a crime. He is LYING when he says he was worried about “security” or that he was afraid there was contraband, or drugs, or weapons. His every action, if you simply watch the video, is that of a poorly trained police officer clumsily violating every possible Section of the Bill of Rights as he tries to uncover a copy of some kind of confession made by either Lozano or his attorney.

    What he is doing is now moving beyond “in plain view” and to the next phase, WARRANTLESS ENTRY to seize papers of the defendant for evidence. Can he do this? Assuming that an attorney and an accused have NO right of attorney/client confidentiality in an Arizona courtroom, and assuming that the accused has no right against being compelled to make self-incriminating statement, and that neither has a reasonable right of privacy to their effects in an Arizona courtroom, now Stoddard has moved from seizing evidence seen “in plain view” to going beyond that. He must be alleging that from the small snippet he read, he got some kind of “probable cause” to believe that an ongoing CRIME was in the process of being COMMITTED, and that exigent circumstance existed so that hot pursuit was necessary to either apprehend the criminal or prevent the destruction of evidence, and these are the ONLY reasons he could ignore the 4th amendment requirement of getting a warrant – its an emergency, it’s completely impractical to get a warrant, because the criminal will escape or the evidence of the crime will be destroyed! Go Officer Stoddard, Go! You are like Keifer Sutherland in 24, saving us from a terrorist attack! Or at least you say that, and a bunch of other stuff, now that you’ve been caught on camera. Just like any cheap little crook caught on camera, you have a stupid excuse that makes no sense. Stoddard claims that he Stoddard has since said “keywords” in those files had caught his eye (“keywords” he only saw AFTER violating the defendant’s rights), and he believed the document might reveal that Cuccia’s client, an alleged member of the Mexican Mafia, was directing a crime to take place. Stoddard was wrong, and claims that he soon figured out, however, that the document said nothing of the sort. So, since what you claimed was not at all true, then, oh my, Dear Officer Stoddard was really breaking the law, and engaging in an illegal BREAKING and ENTERING without a search warrant. Right in front of a judge. Assuming the judge cares about the law.

    But ask yourself, how “exigent” could the circumstances be to ignore asking for a warrant? All Stoddard had to do was open his mouth and ask the judge, who was less than 15 feet away! Or he could have turned to the Prosecution table, not five feet away and asked them to ask the judge to get a warrant. So there was never, nor could there have ever been, any “Exigent circumstances” sufficient to allow Stoddard to proceed without a warrant. The judge was there, fully empowered to orally issue a bench warrant without even signing a piece of paper! But Stoddard, A BAILIFF and NOT A DETECTIVE, was instead a warrantless junior Sherlock Holmes, acting under super secret Stoddard emergency powers, busy investigating a possible crime. ITS LUDICROUS WHAT STODDARD IS CLAIMING!!! Officer “I don’t need a stinkin’ warrant” Stoddard, he has no need for a warrant, he has no need for the judge, he doesn’t even call over the prosecutor. Officer Stoddard is man above these mere peons of the law. Officer Stoddard is the law, indeed, he has no need for the law. And he must be right, because Judge Donahoe defends him.

    The hidden camera reveals more. Officer Stoddard, the junior sleuth that he is, goes even further. Stoddard calls his sidekick, Officer Campillo to come over, and while Officer Campillo watches, Stoddard opens the attorneys file, SEIZES the attorney’s paper, and gives it to Officer Campillo to remove from the courtroom and to make a photocopy.

    What does Officer Campillo do? Does he object? Does he say, hey wait a second, you are breaking the law and I can’t help you? Does Officer Campillo say, “Hey, I don’t know if you noticed, but there is a JUDGE sitting right over there, and there are three PROSECUTORS sitting three feet away from us, let’s let them handle this? NO! It’s like watching Laurel and Hardy, or Abbott And Costello. Officer Campillo willingly and knowingly enters into the conspiracy, he joins in. He grabs the paper and makes his getaway! Where he goes is not revealed, but I hear that Campillo took the confidential paper, and slid down a pole to the batcave to make copies.

    And when CAMPILLO comes back, does he give the paper back to the judge? Does he even have the courtesy to hand the paper he stole to the defense attorney? NO! Campillo hands the paper to OFFICER STODDARD, and Campillo keeps the copies he’s made! Stoddard, like the guilty little rat he is, quickly, (and presumably without the judge seeing) lays the paper back into defense counsel’s file, as if to undo the criminality of his act! Did Stoddard or Campillo surrender the seized documents? Apparently not. All of this was captured on tape, overwhelming evidence of each of these bailiffs acting like smooth and well accomplished crooks, who had a prior comfort and routine, acted like they did this all the time, and knew that what they were doing was wrong, made every effort to conceal their wrongdoing, and then showed no remorse for breaking the law. Does Judge “speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil” Donahoe, after watching the tape, act on this highly unusual and overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing and find them in contempt? NO! Amazingly, Donahoe is somehow completely BLIND to their wrongdoing, whereas you can bet your bottom dollar such overt culpable behavior caught on tape would be the centerpiece of any trial against a poor Mexican defendant headed for Sheriff Joes torture camp. It’s LAUGHABLE, how willing Judge Donahoe is to bend over backward to ignore the blatant criminality of these two bailiffs.

    And what do those three prosecutors, these sworn “officers of the court” do? Do they jump up in outrage, and come to the aid of the defense counsel? Do they turn to the bailiffs and demand that they return the papers? Do they vigorously protest when the judge tells the defense counsel it’s no big deal? Do they have even an inking that they have a DUTY to uphold the LAW, and to see that JUSTICE is done, regardless of whether it is the COPS committing the crime or whether it is a “Mexican Mafia” gangster who is now the victim of a crime, perpetrated by their own court? NO! The prosecutors JUST SIT THERE, completely disengaged, as if this sort of criminality by police officers HAPPENS EVERYDAY. Which leads me to wonder, that perhaps it does happen everday in Maricopa County, Arizona.

    And what about the Trial Judge, who seemed completely fine with Officer Stoddard’s and Officer Campillo’s sudden impulse to become members of the detective division? She glosses over the whole thing, fails to immediately find these sneaky cops in contempt, and doesn’t even take the responsibility to have a contempt hearing to get their sorry asses out of uniform. Instead she passes the buck to Judge Donahoe who claims he can’t find them in contempt because they didn’t commit the contempt in his court! WTF?!??

    I can’t help but notice that the prosecution has made much of calling Lozano “a known associate of” the Mexican Mafia. But they aren’t saying that he’s a “member of the Mexican Mafia”, are they? So they try to paint the defendant with a broad brush. Lozano was charged with assaulting an inmate. If that inmate was a member of the Mexican Mafia, I guess that would make Lozano “a known associate of the Mexican Mafia”. Without more, the accusation that Lozano is “a known associate of the Mexican Mafia” is just a racist label designed to prejudice the court against him.

    OK, let’s get back on course. So by seizing and copying the papers, what else has happened here, besides a violation of the defendant’s right against a violation of the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures? By opening the attorney’s file and pulling out the documents, by copying them, Stoddard violated the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to counsel and the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
    A defendant’s “right to counsel” relies on both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution (and corollary state provisions). Both of these rights apply only to criminal – not civil proceedings, and which constitutional right is at play depends on the stage of the criminal proceedings. Although the Fifth Amendment right to counsel applies to broader stages, the Sixth Amendment right provides broader protection. As is clear from the video, Officer Stoddard did not seek a “knowing and intentional waiver” of the defendant’s right to counsel. Stoddard instead snuck up behind the back of the attorney and rifled through the attorney’s file, which the attorney, and the defendant, have every right to expect would be secure against a search in the courtroom.

    Although the Fifth Amendment does not explicitly guarantee a right to counsel, the United States Supreme Court declared in Miranda v. Arizona that the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination includes an implied right to counsel once a suspect is subject to “custodial interrogation” – meaning that if the suspect is questioned by the government in a restricted environment, he has a right to counsel. Can there be more of a privilege against self incrimination, when a handcuffed prisoner who is wearing prison stripes is dragged into court, and when his lawyer shows up, a cop searches through the prisoner’s file for evidence of a crime, hoping to find papers to be used by the prosecution which will incriminate him? And how can the “right to counsel” have any meaning, or be knowingly waived, if the attorney does not see sneaky little Officer Stoddard riffling though her files, seeing evidence to further incriminate the defendant?

    Contempt of Court is usually defined as disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the court.

    Ask yourself this: If Officer Stoddard did not think that what he did was in contempt of a lawful process of court, why did he do it behind defense counsel’s back, while he knew her to be distracted, like a four year-old thief? Was the judge in on it? Do they do this in Maricopa county all the time?

    Assuming the Judge is not a part of some ongoing conspiracy, then ask yourself: If what Stoddard did was legal, why didn’t Stoddard just go through her file right in front of her face, earlier in the trial when she was sitting down, and the closed file was sitting right in front of her on the defense counsel’s table? Or, why didn’t Stoddard tell the judge to let him look through the defense counsel’s file? When you look at it that way, you see Officer Stoddard was instead acting like a burglar and didn’t act in compliance with any legitimate process of the court. I say this because there is a clearly defined set of procedural rules and well defined legal processes the prosecution must comply with to get discovery of papers in the defendant’s possession. I GUARANTEE YOU that having the bailiff snoop through defense counsel’s unattended file while defense counsel is addressing the court IS NOT A LAWFUL PROCESS OF THE COURT. Thus, Stoddard’s defense is ridiculous. Officer Stoddard had NO LEGAL RIGHT, nor did he ever rely on any legal process which could allow him to go through her file. If he was acting under color of some legal process, wouldn’t he have done it IN FRONT OF HER? But he didn’t did he? So how can he possibly claim he followed the legal process of the court by sneaking up behind her and snooping through her file and seizing papers? His defense is stupider than that of a four year-old child. And for the trial judge, and for Judge Donahoe to not “get it”… well that’s about as amazing a claim as I’ve ever heard. It absolutely blows my hair back. What is WRONG with the law in Maricopa County? My guess: when you start with a sociopath like Sheriff Arpaio who violates the law, who does not respect the rule of law, then the corruption flows from the root of that poisonous tree to infest the entire system. You don’t get good deputy sheriffs if you have a rotten Sheriff running the place. And you don’t get a good sheriff if you have rotten prosecutors who don’t have the courage or the intelligence to stop a rotten Sheriff from violating the Bill of Rights, even if they are only “Mexicans,” (or, in another era “Niggers.”) And you don’t get good prosecutors if you have spineless judges who allow bad sheriffs to commit crimes right on camera in their courtroom, in full view of the rotten prosecutors. And you can’t get good judges if your chief judge is afraid of the sheriff, and hasn’t the guts to recognize when a bad couple of bailiffs break the law, and hasn’t the WILL to find those scumbags in contempt, send them to jail for six months, and let the chips fall where they may.

    Regardless, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides criminal defendants with the right to rely on the assistance of counsel after formal charges are initiated. Once criminal proceedings are initiated (as they obviously were here) the Sixth Amendment right to counsel applies to all stages, from initial appearance to appeal. A defendant’s waiver of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel must be voluntary, knowing, and intelligent. Thus, if the State tries to rely on statements made by a suspect when counsel was not there, the State must show that the suspect: a) intentionally waived the right to counsel – by clearly communicating that waiver, and b) Clearly understood the nature of the right and consequences of abandoning it.

    Let me ask you, Office Stoddard, how could the defendant in this case intentionally and knowingly waive his right to counsel, including his right of confidential communications with his attorney, or even understand that he was waiving his right to counsel, if you snuck up behind his attorney and the defendant to surreptitiously search the attorney’s case file for evidence against the defendant? It violates his right to confidentiality in any communication between the attorney and the defendant, and thus, his right to counsel. And this is only the pilfered evidence Office Stoddard got caught stealing. Officer Stoddard was so nonchalant, so comfortable digging through the defense attorney’s files, that you can only imagine he’s done it before. If he is so bold, so comfortable to do it in open court, where else, I wonder, has he or his sheriffs goons done it? Perhaps, late at night, have they previously broken into Defense attorney Joanne Cuccia’s office? Could they have installed electronic bugging devices in every defense attorney’s offices, or tracing programs on their computers? The open and seemingly casual criminality boggles the mind. The entire case against Lozano is tainted, and should be thrown out.

    If you’re still having trouble with this, let’s imagine a bizarre, fantasy situation, where Stoddard somehow magically asks the trial judge for permission first.

    Stoddard: “Your honor! It’s amazing, but we are somehow able to communicate telepathically so the defense counsel can’t hear us. Weird, huh? Anyway, I’ve been standing here looking across the prosecution table towards the Defense table. From here, I can’t read a word of any of the papers sticking out. But I notice defense counsel is very busy talking to you, so would it be all right if I sneak up behind her, over there between the defense table and the prosecution table and try to read the documents in her file?”

    Judge: “Why would you want to do that Bailiff? Do you suspect a crime is ongoing?

    Stoddard: “How the hell can I tell that from over here? I can’t read anything from here. But she left a closed file sitting over there, and I can see a little piece of paper sticking out, and I think there are some words on it. Those words MIGHT SPELL OUT A CRIME! That seems like “probable cause” to me!”

    Judge: “Sure bailiff, why not, you got the gun! Just make sure the defense attorney is busy at the time speaking to the court. And you are right, this telepathic communication is really cool”

    Stoddard: “Your honor, I was real quiet, and I snuck up here just like an injun’! I am now standing at the Defense attorney’s table, and there is a closed file on the table. Is it OK if I try and read any papers that might be sticking out? I think I’m finally close enough that I can read the words on them. I’m not sure what I might find, but who knows, if I fish around a bit, maybe I’ll find something the prosecution team can use!”

    Judge: “Sure, Stoddard, ol’ buddy! You are just like encyclopedia Brown. Why does the Sheriff’s office have a detective division when they could just use plain old bailiffs to work the cases by searching attorney’s files when they come to court? It’s GENIUS!

    Stoddard: Thanks, your honor. I thought it was pretty smart idea. Why, most of the real sheriffs drive around trying to catch the criminals breaking the law. But I had the idea, that Sheriff Joe can just arrest people, and then when they get a lawyer and come to court, we Bailiffs will just sneak up and steal any papers out of their lawyers files, and use those papers to convict them! Sheriff Joe said it was a swell idea and would save lots of money. And you know how much Sheriff Joe likes to save money!

    Judge: That is pretty smart. But something is bothering me. We need something… I think its called Perble Cause, or … Oh, I remember! Probable Cause. Let’s see, the defendant’s attorney is really busy defending a “Mexican Mafia” criminal, so that is probably Probable Cause to search her defense file, right? I mean, the Nazi’s used to do that to the Jews, if they brought a lawyer to court, the Nazis would grab the defense lawyer’s file, and convict the lawyer along with the Jew. Very efficient! Anyway, Officer Stoddard, since the defense attorney hasn’t heard a word of this fictional conversation, and since she is busy representing her client, you go right ahead and search that file. I mean, she made the mistake, didn’t she? She left a closed file on the counsel’s table, and that was only 15 feet away from you when she left it there. She should have put it in her briefcase and locked the briefcase. But hey, she didn’t see you sneak up, either, so its fair game! Read anything you want”

    Stoddard: “Your honor, it is amazing that the defense attorney can’t hear our imaginary conversation, but I can only see about an inch of this paper, and I’m not getting any real evidence to arrest the defense counsel yet. Would you mind if I pull the paper out about ten inches from the file, so I can read some more?”

    Judge: “I have no problem with that, since we are communicating telepathically and the defense counsel can’t hear me giving you permission to search through her papers. There’s a law that authorizes it anyway. It’s called the Fourth Amendment. Let me see, I have forgotten what the 4th amendment of the US Constitution said. I think it said: “The right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated…” But, since the file was closed and the paper didn’t show enough to see it all, it would be really UNREASONABLE, from the STATE’s point of view, if you didn’t pull that piece of paper out without asking either the attorney or the defendant, wouldn’t it? I mean, “reasonable” is only what is “reasonable” from the point of view of the STATE, right? That old forth amendment isn’t to protect the rights of the People from the power of the State, no no no, my reading of the 4th Amendment protects you, Officer Stoddard, who is a State Officer, from the unreasonable expectations of the People to think we can’t seize their papers and effects. Makes sense to me. Go ahead, the US Constitution and the Arizona Constitutions are “just pieces of paper”, anyway… “

    Stoddard: “Ok, Judge, I’m still talking to you telepathically, and the defense counsel still can’t hear us, so now I’ve pulled the paper out more, and read more. Is it OK if I call Officer Campillo over here and open the defendant’s attorney’s file, remove the paper and some other documents from the attorney’s file, and give all these papers to Officer CAMPILLO to be photocopied and give those papers to the prosecution? NO need for a warrant, Judge, I got exigent circumstances here, which obliterate ay need for a warrant. I mean, I’m, uh… I’m in HOT Pursuit here, if I don’t act now, that defense attorney will, uh, er, get away with a crime, or, something someday, I guess… uh… Oh, I got it, this evidence could be destroyed before I can get a warrant, so I gotta grab it now!

    Judge: “Oh, sure, now that you’ve gone to all the trouble to sneak up behind defense counsel, and to pull defense counsel’s documents out of the file and read it, isn’t it NOW reasonable that you can seize it for the prosecution? I mean, you had probable cause to… to… uh,… Officer Stoddard, what exactly did you have probable cause to suspect?

    Stoddard: “oh… uh… because… hmm. Because it… Let’s see.. from across the room.. Uh, no, that won’t work, I couldn’t see anything from over there. … Um… after I snuck up, uh… yeah… after I snuck up, the piece of paper… well I suspected that piece of paper could be a weapon or drugs, or… something… passed from the attorney to the accused to cause imminent…clear and present… yeah, that’s it, the paper was a… a weapon we musta missed in the search of the defendant’s papers down at the weapons scanner at the front door of the courthouse?”

    Judge: “That’s a good one! Sure, go ahead, that piece of paper might be a Weapon of Mass Destruction like we didn’t find in Iraq, but which we falsely used to justify the war in Iraq”

    And so ends our tale of Officer Stoddard’s state of mind as he busied himself, learning the ropes of becoming a Junior Bailiff Detective as he conducted his investigation and exigent seizure of defense counsel’s documents, irrespective of that pesky little notion of attorney/client privilege or that obsolete document called the bill of rights.

    Well, fortunately , there is law in Maricopa County. Justice is blind, and the hero of the People is that even-hand of justice, Judge “Golly I just don’t know what to do” Donahoe, who has today been completely intimidated by a courtroom half-full of Uniformed thugs…

    WHAT WAS A ROOM OF COPS DOING THERE IF NOT TO INTIMIDATE THE JUDGE? Seems it works, too, now Stoddard is really just a bit scared to set any rules for his cops: “I don’t want to unnecessarily hinder or prevent deputies from carrying out security in the courtroom,” Donahoe said. Security? What security? Stoddard snuck up and stole a piece of PAPER from inside the file of the defense counsel. There is zero evidence that stealing that piece of paper had anything to do with courtroom security. Even if Stoddard’s ludicrous story is true, which it isn’t, the facts are that his seizing the paper did not, and could not, make the courtroom more “secure.”

    Later, Donahoe said he did not have the authority to hold Stoddard in “direct criminal contempt” because the offense had not taken place in front of him or even in his courtroom.” WHAT horsecrap! If Donahoe is HEARING the matter, he must decide the matter or send it BACK to the original judge to RULE. Or bring the trial judge in to sit on a panel to rule. At least SHE might have some BALLS.

    Judge Donahoe is terribly concerned. Not about the rights of the defendant, whose right to counsel and right to self incrimination were violated, nor about the rights of the Attorney, whose property was taken in open court, no. Instead, Judge Donahue is oh-so-concerned about the rights of poor Officers Stoddard and Campillo. To quote one source: “One of the complication’s of the hearing was Donahoe’s decision that the handwritten letter falls under attorney-client privilege. Because of that, no one was allowed to talk about the contents of the letter, including the supposed “keywords” that possibly provoked the seizure. This, Donahoe said, made it impossible for Stoddard or Campillo to mount a defense against a possible contempt of court charge. Donahoe said he would not even consider holding the sheriff’s employees in contempt for the seizure unless Lozano waived his attorney-client privilege. “Unless you’re going to let these gentlemen fully defend against it, I’m not going to hold them in contempt,” Donahoe said.

    How convenient. So by violating the attorney client/privilege, the STATE gets to force Lozano to waive his right to his entire attorney/client privilege? Why would that be, and why wouldn’t Judge Donahoe limit the waiver of the attorney/client privilege to only that specific evidence which Stoddard and Campillo seized, and why wouldn’t Judge Donahue also exclude this same seized evidence in any case against either Lozano or his attorney? It’s a completely ludicrous ruling, essentially designed to force Lozano to either incriminate himself, or let the cops who broke the law go scot-free. Why? So the rights of STATE, embodied in the Officers of the STATE (whom Judge Donahoe calls “these gentlemen”) are protected. This is legal hocus pocus, and stands the whole meaning of illegal search and seizure on its head. It means that Judge Donahoe thinks that the 4th amendment protects the STATE from the People, not the other way around. That’s nuts. The Bill of Rights clearly enumerates the inalienable rights of the People from being encroached or usurped by the STATE. Officer Stoddard and Officer Campillo were acting under the color of authority of law, as Agents of the State. They violated not only the law, but their oaths of office as officers of the court. On top of that, they committed a crime in plain view of the cameras before in a court of law. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CONVICT A CRUMMY COP? Perhaps if they had raped a ten your old girl in the defense table, that would have done it, but Judge Donahoe probably would have said that unless the raped girl waived her right to have the in-court tape used as evidence, and waived her right to have a sperm sample taken, Officer Stoddard and Campillo would be denied their right to fully defend against her allegations.

    By following this logic, Officer Stoddard and Officer Campillo can break into anybody’s house, and search it, and collect evidence of a crime. If Stoddard and Campillo get caught, Judge Donahoe says they can’t be convicted unless the person whose house was illegally broken into waives their right against self incrimination and admits that the evidence seized was evidence of a crime. Really? Why? Because Stoddard and Campillo can’t raise a defense unless the alleged criminal waives his right against self incrimination? Are you from Outer Space?

    Change the facts. Campillo and Stoddard break into Lozano’s attorney’s office and photocopy all of the pages of Lozano’s file (which is VIRTUALLY WHAT THEY DID, EXCEPT THEY WERE SO BRAZEN AS TO STEAL two pages or so IN OPEN COURT IN FULL VIEW OF VIDEO CAMERAS!). By Judge Donahoe’s reasoning, Campillo and Stoddard cannot be convicted of breaking and entering unless Lozano waives his attorney/client privilege and allows all of the evidence of his attorney’s file to be used against him to convict him. Why? Because the information in the stolen file is somehow critical to the cops defense? Yet, that’s completely wrong. The contents of the file are irrelevant. The cops stole it. It’s no different than if they had stolen a wallet and got caught. They broke the law, on camera, like little kids stealing a purse, and they got caught. On camera, they stole an attorney’s papers from the attorney’s file. If that, alone is not contemptuous of the legal process I CAN’T IMAGINE WHAT IS. This is the end of the law as we know it. This is the death of the bill of rights, when the bill of rights is used to protect the rights of the State against the rights of the People.

    To rule the way Judge Donahoe ruled in this case means that a cop can violate the defendant’s attorney/client privilege, and the VERY VIOLATION by the State creates immunity for the State’s misfeasance, because the defendant will always refuse to waive his attorney/client privilege. It’s insane. Judge Donahoe’s ruling means that cops everywhere SHOULD always steal papers from attorney’s files. Because by violating the attorney/client privilege, they GET THE EVIDENCE THAT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN OTHERWISE. If they caught, and the defendant must waive his attorney client privilege, SO THEY AGAIN GET THE EVIDENCE THAT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE SEEN OTHERWISE. Either way they get to see the evidence, either to expand their investigation or to convict the defendant. The best thing that can happen for the defendant? He refuses to waive attorney/client privilege, the cops can see what they seized, but probably can’t introduce it into evidence. The worst thing that happens for the defendant? He waives the attorney/client privilege, the illegally seized evidence, given in complete reliance on the attorney/client privilege, will be used against him and the defendant gets jail time. And the cops? Unless the defendant agrees to waive his right of attorney/client confidentiality, they get to do this over and over and over. The 4th amendment is DEAD to Judge Donahoe. SHAME ON JUDGE DONAHOE, you ARE A DISGRACE to what a real judge should be.

    Maricopa County is corrupt from the Judge all the way down to the sheriff’s office. It’s long past time for the feds to go down there and clean it out. The judges are intimidated by these ball-swingin’ “no need for a lawbook” sheriffs, each of whom think they are above the law, and each of whom act without the slightest concern for judicial authority.

    Judge Donahoe – its time to “Man Up” or forever admit your are just a tool in Sheriff Joe’s back pocket. A real judge wouldn’t have to ponder a minute, and would convict Stoddard and Campillo and give them about 6 months in Sheriff Joe’s fascist internment camp. And after that, Stoddard deserves to be working at McDonalds, and Officer Campillo would make a great short order cook. And unless you grow some hair and start acting like a real judge, and READ AND UNDERSTAND THE CONSTITUTION, you, Judge Donahoe, better think about a new career as well. You are obviously too timid, or too stupid, to handle the job you got. “But MR. Anti-Fascist, please, those sheriffs are an unruly mob! If I rule against Officer Stoddard!” they might whack me! Judge Donahoe, either listen to your knees knocking and resign, or act like a man and throw the book at these two clowns. Assuming the secret sheriff’s posse doesn’t waylay you, then you will: 1) earn the respect of the other judges; 2) teach the other judges what do with crooked cops; 3) earn the respect of the other honest officers; 4) teach the other crooked cops that there are laws to follow, and 5) uphold the constitution and the rule of law. Now why should you be so afraid of doing that? Of course, if you do rule correctly and the secret sheriff’s posse does somehow have you whacked, then at least you’ll die a hero to your wife, your kids, and your county. And hell, nobody gets to do that anymore!

  2. AFFF:

    I can feel your anger, and I completely sympathize. There’s definitely a difference between 1) carrying an obvious weapon into a courtroom, and 2) carrying in your briefcase or file. Stoddard does seem to have acted with a fairly flagrant disregard for the law.

    I’m not so sure that I completely agree with full extent of your analysis, however. The “case” against the defendant here has already happened. The original incident occurred during a sentencing hearing – and I’m not sure that infringing on his rights at this stage, however outrageous it may be, justifies throwing out the entire case. Mind you, again, I’m very sympathetic to what may very well be more systematic abuses by local law enforcement (of which, I understand, there have been allegations).

    I think the situation bears close scrutiny. The facts of the case definitely need to enter the public’s awareness. But we know that it happened, thanks to the fourth estate. We know what “keywords” Stoddard argues justified his search & seizure. We know that the judge is hearing arguments in a courtroom packed with both defence attorneys and sheriff’s deputies. But, until we know what the final ruling is, we don’t yet know that the U.S. Constitution is dead in Maricopa County.

  3. anti_fascist_freedom_fighter | November 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm |

    Well Said, Deputy Stoddard’s Brother Amelio.

    Amelio, where is you sense of outrage? How do you know these keystone cops, who have absolutely NO hesitation to BREAK THE LAW IN OPEN COURT IN FRONT OF A JUDGE on camera, haven’t stolen other papers from other defense attorney files, or other papers from Luzano’s attorney, or that they even returned ALL OF THE PAPERS THEY were CAUGHT taking? They said they returned the papers (while keeping copies), but we can’t KNOW that, can we, Amelio, because instead of handing the papers to the attorney, or to the judge, Stoddard threw them back on the open file, and claimed he returned them all.

    Stoddard says the Sheriff’s office didn’t read the papers (BUT WE SAW HIM READ THE PAPERS, didn’t we so we KNOW he’s a LIAR) Stoddard says the Sheriffs office didn’t keep copies of the papers (But we SAW Campillo keep papers when he returned from his photocopy run, and we CAN’T know that even if the papers Campillo broght into the courtroom were handed over to some impartial party, we can’t know whether Campillo made 2 copies and not just one, and secreted a second set of copies somewhere outside the courtroom, for later retrieval and use by the Sheriff’s department, can we?)

    Now, we saw Stoddard lie to the judge in open court, we saw Stoddard illegally search an attorney’s files, so why on earth should we believe a WORD this dishonest little crook says? Because he has a BADGE????? Because he claims he returned all the papers? Because He claims he was suspicious? Because he CLAIMS he has never done this before?

    Answer this, Amelio, if he WASN’T caught in the act, what would have happened? He’d have snuck the papers back into the file, and then that would be OK, wouldn’t it? Well, it would be OK to Judge Donahue in Maricopa County Arizona, that’s for sure.

    But NO! That would NOT be OK. It’s far deeper than just whether the papers were returned.

    Stoddard thinks that its all OK because he returned the papers??? Are you kidding me? And at the hearing, the JUDGE must have thought this was OK too, and instead of getting Stoddard up on the stand and grilling him, asking Stoddard to explain, RIGHT THERE ON THE WITNESS STAND, what the Frickin’ Emergency was that he didn’t ask the JUDGE, who was 15 feet away for crissakes, FOR A WARRANT, and instead of reading him the riot act and chastising him and demanding he turn in his badge and that he NEVER show his face ion her courtroom again in a uniform and not in prison stripes, instead the Judge just sort of waves it off, covers for them by saying “the officers have a lot of leeway when it comes to security”… and lets both Stoddard and Campillo free to go have the prosecutor’s office prepare their defense…

    I ask you Amelio, what would the judge say to a bankrobber who got caught before he could spend the money? No harm no foul? It’s OK, Mr. Bankrobber, we caught you in the act, and because you were forced to return the property, you can go free? Why? Because here in our courtroom, Mr. Bankrobber, if we catch our deputy sheriffs stealing people’s property, its ALL OK as long as they give the property back. So, Mr. Bankrobber, you get to live by the same rules. It’s all OK becasue we caught you in the act and you had to give the property back too.” Hey AND YOU BOTH USED GUNS AT THE TIME, AND THAT’S OK TOO!

    Well, let me surprise you Amelio. The above scenario will never happen, IF YOU ARE A BANK ROBBER. NOOOOO! The bankrobber would get a felony conviction!

    But the above scenario WILL HAPPEN, mark my words, if you are a Maricopa County Sheriff. At minimum, Stoddard and Campillo committed a felony misdemeanor of burglary, theft of property. That’s a crime. Committed in a courtroom. In front of the judge. But they are immune for their crime.

    How can that NOT be contempt? Justified by “Keywords”? “Keywoeds” don’t matter. “Keywords” are irrelevant! Stoddard’s justification is complete and utter smokescreen.

    Think about it, Amelio.

    For anybody who claims that Stoddard did the right thing, or that he was “justified” or had “authority” or had no other choice – don’t even TRY to go there. Stoddard claims he had some kind of suspicion there was some note, before Stoddard even moved a MUSCLE to sneak up behind Lozano’s attorney, Joanne Cuccia, and to search her files.

    If what Stoddard says is true, EVEN IF HE COULD SEE THE FOUR WORDS “WE’LL BOMB THIS COURTHOUSE” from all the way across the room, what should Stoddard have done, other than acting like Encyclopedia Brown sneaking up and and opening a defense attorney’s file behind her back? Answer: there is an already established courtroom procedure he could have used, and he acted in CONTEMPT OF IT. He could talk to any one of the three prosecutors, or he could have talked to the judge’s assistant or bailiff, and asked him or her to pass a note to the judge, telling the judge of his suspicions, and asking to the judge to not let the defendant or Ms. Cuccia leave after the hearing, so the judge could discuss the situation with her. His very limit of procedural correctness, were he so sure of a danger, might have allowed him to drawn his gun and yell to the court if he was so concerned! “LOOK OUT EVERYONE, THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY HAS A NOTE!” (see how ridiculous his “concern for security” is?) And when the dust settled, the Judge would handle it. There was absolutely no “Imminent Threat” that couldn’t wait till the end of trial, that “justified” Stoddard’s sneaky search and seizure. NOTHING!

    And had he done what I suggested above? VIOLA! That’s not contempt of court, that’s not violating the defendant’s due process protections under the constitution, that’s not violating the attorney’s rights of privacy or due process either. Stoddard might have gotten a “stern talking to” for drawing his pistol, but if he really believed the danger, even I would give him the benefit of the doubt.

    But did Stoddard follow established procedure? NO! Stoddard decided to take the law in his own hands, and contemptuously broke the law in open court, and contemptuously violated established court procedure. What’s the remedy for that in Maricopa County, which prides itself for ZERO TOLERANCE and prides itself for feeding something “worse then dog food” to its inmates? Here’s the remedy: Stoddard must go to jail for contempt, and he should be sent to the same stinkhole 120 degree tent city that all other accused criminals go. Same thing for his side kick, Officer “Stan Laurel” Campillo. Let them sweat it out in rags and dine on $1.00 a day. And then FIRE them. Maricopa County is so good at making examples, then make an example out of these two jokers.

    Unless, of course, there is ONE form of justice for “Mexicans (or blacks, Asians, Indians or other “people of color)” and one different form of justice for “whites” in Maricopa County. Or is it one form of justice for “Sheriffs” (i.e. no laws apply to them whatsoever) and a different form of justice for EVERYBODY else?

    Finally, and I can’t say this strongly enough, the “show of force” of armed, uniformed sheriff deputies, filling the entire side of the spectator gallery for the contempt hearing harkens back to 1933 Germany and the Brownshirts, and it was obviously orchestrated by the county’s Nazi-in-chief, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. If Judge Donahoe doesn’t view this as some kind of fascist, unabashed harassment and intimidation of a judicial officer, then Judge Donahoe must be “in bed” with all of these “gentlemen” (which is what Judge Donahoe called these two pilferers). Gentlemen, my @ss … Like Vito Corleone is a gentleman…

    Mark my words, Amelio- you will see… the constitution is DEAD in Maricopa County.

  4. Wow, all I have to say is that this court room is terribly handled. The judge seems to be a 5 grade teacher in how she handles the situation. The defense attorney sure has the complete right to be angry, but she should have controlled by her emotions and she should have spoke out to the court in how to handle the situation, not by frustratingly spazzing out. I just think this is completely funny, how we have these kinds of people running around in justice system. I rest my peace.

  5. There are 2 issues:
    Seperation of Powers, The judge can’t order the Sheriff or his deputies to do something outside of the judges authority. Judge_Judicial Sheriff-Executive
    The Sheriff under Arizona State Law is charged with the security of Superior Courts and his presence is mandated.
    All the Deputy has to do is say he acted in good faith and had some beleif that some contraband was or had been passed.
    3rd Party written correspondence can be considered criminal contraband in many cases Including this one. Perhaps the deputy acted poorly but was it in bad faith.
    The judge is overstepping her authority. It will be proven so at the contempt hearing appeal. I am no lawyer, but looks like she is trying to save face with herself and her fellow attorney.

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