He was supposed to go to jail today, but Maricopa County detention officer Adam Stoddard is on the job instead, working in a courtroom just two floors above the judge whose orders he publicly defied Monday night.
Public defender Maria Schaffer said an attorney in her office spotted Stoddard in uniform, guarding the seventh-floor courtroom of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Lisa Flores this morning. “He was there,” said Schaffer.
About 12 hours before he returned to the job, Stoddard stood outside the same courthouse and told a pack of journalists he would not obey an order by Judge Gary Donahoe to apologize for rifling through an attorney’s confidential files and seizing a letter from a defendant. The Oct. 19 incident took place in Flores’ courtroom, no less.
Stoddard told reporters he would rather go to jail than apologize.
Under the order by Donahoe, whose courtroom is on the fifth floor of the Maricopa County Superior Courthouse in downtown Phoenix, Stoddard should have reported for jail today.
Donahoe’s order said that if Stoddard did not apologize, he “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.”
But Stoddard’s attorney told Heat City today that he believes Donahoe’s order alone is not enough to put the detention officer behind bars for contempt of court.
Deputy county attorney Tom Liddy said Donahoe needs to also issue an arrest warrant or an order of confinement. He said Stoddard “cannot walk in off the street” and present himself to the jail. “It doesn’t work that way,” he said.
Meantime, Liddy said he and other attorneys still preparing to file a request with the Arizona Court of Appeals to strike down Donahoe’s ruling.
“These are tactical and strategic decisions that need to be made,” he said.
Schaffer, who is representing the defendant whose documents were seized by Stoddard, declined further comment. Calls to the courts of Donahoe and Flores were not returned.