Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Uncategorized » What's the Solution?

What's the Solution?

When Fourthamendment.com calls Maricopa County “a banana republic where the Sheriff can intimidate any official he wants,” it’s a good sign we’ve reached a low point. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, though the sheriff’s willingness to intimidate isn’t limited to officials. It’s depressing.

Nobody here is safe, and this should be getting a lot more press. The mainstream, national media seems to be ignoring Maricopa County altogether. I’m still seeing more traffic going to posts about David DeCosta and smoking bans than goes to posts about what could be the breakdown of constitutional government as we know it. It seems no one is listening.

Scott Greenfield even started losing interest, but Mark Bennett argued Maricopa matters. That prompted another post from Scott about what power, if any, us blawgers have to make a difference.

I like to think that things I do are important, but I also try to be realistic. I don’t know if anyone cares what I think. I don’t know if most people in Maricopa County care about what anyone thinks. Read this opinion and the comments. Read the first comment to this post. A lot of people seem to think this is an attack on Sheriff Joe by people who oppose his tough stance on illegal immigration. Those people probably don’t read blawgs. They probably don’t read the New York Times either. They don’t like undocumented immigrants, and any attack on the sheriff is an attack on their position on the issue that matters most to them.

I doubt that anyone outside of Maricopa County has the power to make a difference. The feds have more firepower than Sheriff Joe, but what makes people think the DOJ is willing to do anything meaningful about it? I’d love to see a national opinion poll on what Sheriff Joe is doing. The DOJ can start as many hotlines as it wants, but it’ll just incite people to write things like this and this. It’ll rally the troops behind Sheriff Joe.

The question I pose in this post’s title isn’t rhetorical. The solutions I’ve proposed all involve changing the way people think. I can write all I want, but I can’t make people read. I can speak all I want, but I can’t make people listen. A little less than half of my caseload is in Maricopa County, but that’s increasing. The number of battles I fight on behalf of individual clients may grow, but that isn’t the kind of change it takes to stop the insanity here.

If I’m right and the only way to end this is by changing public opinion, how do I help? This blog probably isn’t enough. My caseload isn’t enough. If there’s some way to change things without having to change the way people think, what is it?

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12 Responses to "What's the Solution?"

  1. Adrian says:

    The contempt hearing was a civil hearing. The exclusionary rule excludes evidence at trial. It can not cure a constitutional violation at sentencing, so it was a very odd situation that confronted Judge Donahoe. I don’t agree with Mr. Stoddard being locked up. I think a better ruling would have been to hold the sheriff and/or his office in contempt, levy a large fine, and require that fine be used to train officers in respecting attorney client-privilege and constitutional rights. I don’t think you’re stupid. I think you just mistake criminal defense attorneys zealously defending clients with an assumption that defense attorneys don’t form opinions, something that is probably very easy to do. In regards to the FBI, I hope so.

  2. mahtso says:

    “Have your ever heard of respondeat superior liability?” Yes, but I thought that was a doctrine related to civil laws, not criminal. Please correct me if I have it wrong.

    “Are 4th Amendment violations so commonplace that we should just accept them?” No. But I do not see a DO’s violation as proof that the Sheriff has committed unlawful acts that warrant the type of response being suggested at blogs linked from this one. (Again, correct me if I am wrong, and the typical solution is to exclude the evidence, not to lock up the officer who committed the violation.)

    “Is it ironic that criminal defense attorneys think Sheriff Joe is violating the law or is it ridiculous that you think defense attorneys can never believe someone is guilty before a conviction?” The irony is that although many of us do not adhere to the presumption of innocence, I thought criminal defense lawyers would. Maybe it is not irony, but stupidity on my part.

    “I am a big fan of observing individuals who don’t realize blatant, systematic abuse of power and repeated constitutional violations and I see it often where others may not.” I wonder if the FBI will also see it in the case of the Sheriff.

  3. Adrian says:

    Oops, I see the video has two former US attorneys. My fault for not watching the entire video before posting.

  4. Adrian says:

    I am a big fan of observing individuals who don’t realize blatant, systematic abuse of power and repeated constitutional violations and I see it often where others may not.
    I fail to see irony in this situation- a U.S. attorney in charge of another State not filing charges against a sheriff in another State. Maybe you’re just really good at seeing irony because I would call that jurisdiction, not irony.
    Have your ever heard of respondeat superior liability? Maybe, just maybe Sheriff Joe should be the person held responsible for MCSO’s misdeeds? Are 4th Amendment violations so commonplace that we should just accept them?
    Is it ironic that criminal defense attorneys think Sheriff Joe is violating the law or is it ridiculous that you think defense attorneys can never believe someone is guilty before a conviction?

  5. mahtso says:

    To be sure I am clear I say again, if the Sheriff has violated the law, I hope he gets punished appropriately.

    As to the links:

    The Southcarolina blog – I could be flip and say that if the FBI is investigating you (or the Sheriff) he must be guilty. That investigation may bear fruit, but until then it is only an instigation (not even an allegation.) There was something I found ironic in the video: the former US Atty (now defense lawyer) alleges violations of law that if correct happened when he was the US Atty. Why no charges at that time?

    One serious problem with the video is that it mentioned the raid at Mesa City Hall and it mentioned that the Sheriff said the raid was to arrest illegal immigrants. What the video did not report was that the City or its contractor had hired illegal immigrants and several were arrested while working at City Hall (during the raid). To me, this selective reporting raises an issue of bias.

    Otherwise, the video relied on people that have an axe to grind and was little more than the same allegations that are floated elsewhere. The primary one is that the Sheriff retaliated against people by investigating them. The video made clear that the Sheriff could present a defense that there were other reasons for the investigation. Whether that defense is viable is, of course, a question that might be answered at a trial (or perhaps might convince the FBI not to file charges on those allegations.)

    Gamso Blog – That addressed actions by a Detention Officer, not the Sheriff. I am unaware of how acts the DO took can be considered illegal acts by the Sheriff, but I am always willing to be enlightened. What the DO did has been ruled a violation of the 4A (ignoring the pending appeal), which is serious, but there are literally volumes written on 4A violations and these are not uncommon.

    Arpaio.com – I skimmed through much of it. Leaving aside the obvious bias (it still has a link supporting the opposition candidate in the election a year ago): Perhaps the most serious allegations are under a heading “Blood on Arpaio’s Hands.” Accepting as true all the reports (which are certainly based on true incidences of injury and death in the jails) none of those reports actually shows that the Sheriff was the actor in the matter. So, as above, unless there is some way that another person’s acts show the Sheriff committed an illegal act, I don’t see how that proves he did so.

    Other allegations on the site date back to as long ago as 1995 and include that the Sheriff refused to investigation his chief deputy. Bad policy and poor choice? Sounds like yes. Crime? Hard for me to see without more evidence. There was also a section with a heading (something like) “the Truth.” This discussed, and took issue with, a bunch of the Sheriff’s hyperbole, but I see no evidence of criminal acts. (Ready to be enlightened with specifics.) There was also a blog with the last two entries in April 2009 and May 2008 that were so old I did not read these. And last, a public forum that I did not read at all. (I assume those who have written in that forum have reported evidence of wrong-doing to the proper authorities).

    I am a big fan of irony and see it often where others may not. I see irony in that Mr. Brown, a criminal defense lawyer (and other bloggers who are also), appear (to me) to take a guilty until proven innocent approach with the Sheriff. Then again, the FBI has been investigating him for over a year, so he must be guilty of something.

    Whether or not the Sheriff has committed illegal acts is something that time will tell. Thank you, Mr. Brown for providing this forum and your input on the matter.

  6. Matt Brown says:

    Here are some links that outline Sheriff Joe’s antics and their legal implications:

    http://www.arpaio.com/
    http://gamso-forthedefense.blogspot.com/2009/12/back-to-maricopa.html
    http://www.southcarolinacriminaldefenseblog.com/2009/12/more_arpaio_maricopa.html

    I think there’s more than enough there for someone to independently verify and decide if what he’s doing really is illegal.

  7. Just Passin Thru says:

    Your sheriff and county atty are really something special.

    I am pretty sure that if the Phoenix judges were fed up with what is going on, they could prevail upon the state atty general to investigate. Or they could quit en masse.

    Since this has not happened, you Arizonans are condemned to live with the morons you’ve elected.

    Don’t feel bad. If morons could not run for office and get elected, you wouldn’t have a true democracy.

  8. Donte says:

    I would think the proof will be found by the F.B.I The proof is being covered up because of judicial cowardice and the assaults perpetrated by Fuhrer Joe’s storm troopers who intimidate and threaten anyone who brings the truth to light. I however are convinced his days are numbered to many people are now involved for him to keep going as usual. As any General knows you can not win a war on multiple fronts, and as with last Fuhrer who found this out the hard way, so will go Old Joe.

  9. mahtso says:

    Donte, Sorry if I was too narrow in my statement. Of course if there is proof of civil rights or Constitutional violations, then the Sheriff should be punished appropriately. But as I understand it, Constitutional violations are often cured (e.g., exclude evidence) rather than dealt with via punishment.

    So, to Mr. Brown, Donte, or anyone else, please provide me with details of these violations. Not here on Mr. Brown’s blog, but on a blog he sometimes links to, they appear to be calling for armed insurrection over the Sheriff’s acts and they offer insults to those of us who are not anxious to participate. Given that level of hyperbole, I don’t think it unfair to ask for specific factual information.

    And again, to be clear, I do not know if the Sheriff is in violation or not. But, the DOJ has been investigating him for close to a year. To me that DOJ is now resorting to hot-lines is an indication that it has not found substantial evidence of any violations. But this is conjecture on my part and maybe Mr. Brown or someone with knowledge of DOJ procedures and policy can provide factual information.

  10. Donte says:

    Proof that the Sheriff has violated the law ? No he has mad just a slight bo bo he only violates civil rights and the truth can be found in that peace of paper called the “Constitution of the United States of America” why is this so hard for people to see?

  11. mahtso says:

    “If I’m right and the only way to end this is by changing public opinion, how do I help?”

    Provide citations to the laws that you allege have been violated by the Sheriff and facts to back up the allegations.

    A problem I have with your posts (and those at other blogs) is that they depend on there not only being evidence that the Sheriff has violated the law, but also that everyone in a position to act is derelict in their duty. Without actual evidence of dereliction, I will not assume that there is dereliction. Of course, blogs assert that people like me are: complicit or effete; or racist, a Nazi or a Republican. (By process of elimination, apparently I am an effete Nazi.) I don’t read the NY Times, but it is on-line, so if you can provide me with a few links that will help me understand what I am missing, please do.

    In what I see as a bit of irony: the link to 14A blog refers to a Judge getting an injunction to stop the Sheriff from searching her house. The problem is that, according to a column in yesterday’s Az Republic (12/12), there was no plan to search and the Judge was acting on rumors that were circulating at the courthouse. (The irony is that somehow a Judge acting on rumors is purported to be evidence that the Sheriff is out of control.)

    One last point: For all I know the Sheriff is violating the law, but the blogs I read are not providing substantial evidence of that. Because I’ve asked for proof or written with factual corrections, and I am not fleeing the county or taking up arms, as I said above, I am branded a racist or Nazi. It is to defend myself that I write, but if and when there is proof that the Sheriff has violated the law then I will be among those hoping he pays the appropriate penalties.

  12. tech sgt says:

    Communications –commo– is the sine qua non of all successful revolutions.

    You must start out by creating spaces for the people to speak out in safety.

    Unfortunately, your friend Bennet, has a policy hostile to anonymous communication. And I’m testing right now to see if your platform is any better…. I suspect that you lawyers can’t put together a operational communications network to save your lives.

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