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» Courts, Prosecutors » Wasting Scottsdale’s Resources

Wasting Scottsdale’s Resources

If I lived in Scottsdale and paid city taxes, I’d be picketing the city attorney’s office right now. Some of their policies waste public money like it’s going out of style. I’ve complained before about prosecutors offering pleas with no benefit and defense attorneys enabling them by letting their clients plead, but Scottsdale elevates the non-bargain to an art. They’ve institutionalized extreme ignorance about the concept of bargaining altogether, and the results are amazing.

If you’re charged with regular DUI and your blood alcohol falls in the uppermost part of the range, they offer you a plea to 3 days of jail. You’d get 1 day losing at trial. When they aren’t anti-negotiating, they typically offer you the same thing you’d get at trial. Across the board, it’s one the most wasteful, absurd things I see in any Arizona court. When the court gives you notice of what they call a “trial readiness conference,” it says trial will be set within 45 days. They’re setting trials in late February and March right now. I doubt anyone wonders why the city’s courts are so clogged.

I spent most of the afternoon last Thursday in a motion hearing there. It’s a no-real-plea case, and I filed three motions to suppress. The prosecutor was irritated with me, almost as if he didn’t realize that it was his own office’s fault for not making a meaningful offer. However, his irritation was nothing compared to the officer’s. That poor officer couldn’t have made it clearer that he didn’t want to be there, and I don’t know who irritated him more, me or the prosecutor.

I honestly felt bad for the cop. He could be out patrolling the streets. He could also be getting some shuteye or mowing the lawn or spending some time with family. Instead, he’s spending an afternoon in a courtroom. He’ll spend more time there when the next round of motions comes along. He’ll devote yet more time in the future to depositions and complying with new discovery requests. He’ll kill a whole day or two in court when trial rolls around.

I felt even worse for the poor people of Scottsdale. That cop won’t be doing anything useful for them during all those hours he ends up spending on the case. It’s all because someone in the prosecutor’s office thought it would be a good idea to institute a ridiculously wasteful tough-on-crime policy that’s more tough-on-logic than anything else. If the zealots at MADD are right and enforcement is the key to stopping drunk-driving, I wouldn’t be surprised if Scottsdale soon becomes the DUI capital of the world. All of their DUI cops are going to be sitting in court because mayhem on the streets is apparently not too high a price to pay to avoid shaving off a little time from DUI defendants’ sentences.

It should go without saying that I don’t feel bad enough about any of this to do one iota less of work on any of my cases there. The constitution sets a high bar if we insist on it. All the government waste in the world is justified in my mind if that’s what it takes for one defendant to get his fair shake. Of course, my interests are my clients’ interests. The people who create wasteful policies have different responsibilities. They should be thinking about justice. They should be thinking about the broader consequences of their actions.

The objective of the representation in a case with no plea is still to do the best I can for my client. I have to make the system do its job, and the wheels of justice turn slowly. My clients and I win little by little with each passing moment the state has to devote to the case. Every second we spend means that some issue is being litigated and preserved. Holding the state to its burden is time-consuming. It should be. The questions the prosecutor finds objectionable and the issues that make the prosecutor roll his eyes are each little victories simply by virtue of the fact we are arguing them. The state never seems to get that. They never ask themselves if a Pyrrhic victory is really a victory at all if the person they’re fighting doesn’t suffer anything because of the loss.

There are plenty of bright people working at the City of Scottsdale. They have some great prosecutors, but sadly, they don’t seem to be the one crafting the policies. Whoever is in charge doesn’t have any clue what they’re doing, and the end result is an epic disaster where wasting resources and keeping police from policing are the norm. If more residents knew how their tax dollars were being wasted to make them all a little less safe, there’d probably be an occupy movement at the city attorney already. Maybe people will wake up sooner or later. Better yet, maybe the city will rethink its policies.

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5 Responses to "Wasting Scottsdale’s Resources"

  1. "Exhausted by the Pursuit of Justice" says:

    This is an absolutely accurate account of what is happening in the Scottsdale Municipal Court System right now!! Change is needed ASAP!
    Extreme and Super Extemes are being Pled and disposed of immediately. As well as other cases. Cases worthy of dismissal are kept in the system for a very, very long time….sometimes years!
    It is very scary how much power one person at the top has!!! It IS wasting the resourses that would otherwise be available to enforce the laws!

  2. Thomas Stephenson says:

    Isn’t the whole point of plea bargaining to avoid trial by offering the defendant less punishment than he’d get after trial?

    There must be a whole lot of “criminal defense lawyers” in Scottsdale willing to play along with this.

    1. "Exhausted by the Pursuit of Justice" says:

      You are correct!!! The defense attorneys make big $$$$ and the Prosecutors esentially are prosecuting the taxpayers with their own tax dollars! The Prosecutors have blank checks, not to for the pursuit of Justice but to Prosecute everyone the Scottsdale Police choose to arrest. Our children in the Scottsdale Unified School District do not have textbooks to use for homework……they must use the Internet or photocopied worksheets.
      But our Municipal Court has the funds to waste keeping cases in the courts for years and having the elderly serve 24 hours in jail for a perscription drug metabolite in their system….after a jury trial! Most people do not even know what a metabolite is!!!!! And then substance abuse counseling for responsibly following a reputable Dr.’s protocol!!! Wasteful!!!!!

      This is the best kept secret in Scottsdale. Where is the City Council??????

  3. Matt,
    I don’t practice criminal law but have many friends in the defense bar. I am pretty sure that the problem starts at the top.

    Doubtless, the City Attorney has ambitious aspirations and needs to appear “tough on crime.” Consequently, the culture and policies emanate from there.

    I know a D.A. in another jurisdiction who campaigns for reelection on his “no plea dealing” toughness. The defense lawyers I know all smirk and shake their heads because it’s so much hooey. The electorate, however, laps it up.

    – Mo

    1. "Exhausted by the Pursuit of Justice" says:

      It is actually the City of Scottsdale Managing Prosecutor…….even when an Asst. Prosecutor recommends a DUI case for dismissal for absolute lack of foundation, she will reject the recommendation and push the case through………………….I guess that is why the Lady Justice is Blind Folded!


      The Lady of Justice, in long, flowing robes. So tall and straight she stands. A blindfold hiding the light from her eyes Weighing scale and sword in her hands. From the Annals of Greek mythological lore Comes a reason for sword and scales. They were worn by the Greek Goddess Themis. Insuring that Justice prevails. In Egypt was Moat., the daughter of Ra Who also bore scales and a sword. And Justica., the Goddess of Justice for Rome – A blind – fold too. she wore. Innate is the desire in the human soul From birth of all Mankind For a never ending search for truth..And an Equal Justice find……………..
      except of course in Scottsdale Arizona!

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