The saga of Detention Officer Adam Stoddard continues. You remember him. He's the officer who, during a sentencing hearing, wandered over to where defense counsel's files were out on a table while she was at the podium with her client. , began reading the file, removed a paper, gave it to another officer to copy. All this within view of the judge and two prosecutors, none of whom gave it a moment's notice.
Indeed, the only one who noticed and cared was the defendant who told his lawyer who complained to the judge who told the lawyer to calm down. Which she did.
Here's the video.
Then there was a hearing before the presiding judge and the claim that the defendant would have to waive privilege before he'd be allowed to complain about the invasion of his privilege. And the judge was taking it under advisement.
You can read all about it here and here and here and here.
But that was then. Now (with thanks to Heat City and Simple Justice for the heads up) there's this truly extraordinary decision from the presiding judge of the Superior Court of Maricopa County. Surprising most of the bloggers I've seen (including me), he says that Stoddard violated the 4th Amendment, violated attorney client privilege, acted unreasonably. And he determines that Stoddard's actions constituted civil contempt. Civil contempt, though, is a curious thing. It doesn't carry a penalty, just an obligation to fix things, to purge the contempt. (So the witness will be locked up until, say, agreeing to testify.)
In this case, the judge determines that the only thing to fix is the harm to defense counsel's reputation. So here's what Stoddard is to do:
Detention Officer Stoddard may purge the finding of contempt and the jail sanction by arranging, on or before November 30, 2009, at a time convenient for Ms. Cuccia, a news conference to take place in the plaza on the north side of the Central Court Building where he is to give Ms. Cuccia a sincere verbal and written apology forSo, a public apology which either satisfies defense counsel or SHE can send him to jail. I'd lay odds that's unconstitutional. I'd also lay odds that she won't find the apology unsatisfactory.
invading her defense file and for the damage that his conduct may have caused to her professional reputation. DO Stoddard shall assure that the press release announcing the news conference is sent by email and fax to all news media outlets (print and broadcast) serving Maricopa County at least 24 hours in advance of the news conference. If at the news conference, Ms. Cuccia does not state that the apology is sufficient, DO Stoddard shall report to the jail on December 1, 2009 and be detained until further order of this Court upon a finding that he has complied with the purge clause.
On the other hand, the Arizona Republic story on the order includes this tidbit.
Direct defiance of a court order. Maybe we'll get to criminal contempt, yet. Maybe Sheriff Arpaio will get to go to jail. Maybe peace will break out in the middle east tomorrow.
The officer was ordered by a judge to hold a press conference to apologize for his actions - an order that Sheriff Joe Arpaio immediately said would be defied.“My officer was doing his job and I will not stand by and allow him to be thrown to the wolves by the courts because they feel pressure from the media on this situation,” Arpaio said in a press release. He further said, "I decide who holds press conferences and when they are held regarding this Sheriff’s Office.”
Like any good serial, we have a cliffhanger ending.
Will Detention Officer Stoddard apologize? Will Sheriff Arpaio let him? Will the judge actually lock anyone up? Who will it be? And what will Cuccia do?