Watch 3TV’s report, which includes the full statement from detention officer Stoddard.
He did almost everything he was supposed to do. He gathered the area’s media. He prepared a statement. He read it aloud.
But detention officer Adam Stoddard did not apologize on Monday night. Instead, he defied the order issued by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, which required him to say he was sorry for taking an attorney’s confidential documents six weeks ago or else go to jail today.
“Judge Donahoe has ordered me to feel something I do not” Stoddard said. “He has ordered me to say something I cannot.”
The young detention officer, dressed in his brown duty uniform and wearing a badge, told the pack of journalists and other observers in front of the county’s main courthouse in downtown Phoenix that the judge had essentially “put me in a position where I must lie or go to jail.”
“I will not lie,” he said.
At the end of his statement, Stoddard turned and walked away, refusing to take any questions.
The whole uproar goes back to Oct. 19, when Stoddard was caught on a courthouse security video rifling through the files of defense attorney Joanne Cuccia while her back was turned and she was speaking before the court. Stoddard took a letter from Cuccia’s client out of the file and had it copied before Cuccia was any the wiser.
In a court hearing later to figure out whether his actions were legal, the detention officer testified that he saw the words “going to,” “steal” and “money” grouped together on the letter. He said he believed that gave him authority to seize it and investigate whether a crime was taking place.
But Donahoe rejected Stoddard’s story, saying there was no way he could have thought a crime was about to occur based on what he saw. He ruled on Nov. 17 that Stoddard’s actions were a blatant violation of the near-sacred attorney-client privilege and ordered the detention officer to publicly apologize to the defense attorney by Monday or else face jail time for contempt.
Before Stoddard walked off in defiance of his court-ordered deadline, Craig Mehrens, a veteran Phoenix attorney who has agreed to represent Cuccia in the case, called out to him through the crowd: “See you in jail.”
Stoddard’s lawyer, deputy county attorney Tom Liddy, stepped in to try to answer reporters’ questions. But the heckling by Mehrens continued.
Mehrens insisted several times that the detention officer had not written the prepared statement himself, implying that Stoddard was little more than a yes man for his boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“It’s his words,” Liddy shot back. “It’s what he wants to do.”
Liddy went on to repeat many of the things he has already said since the court order was issued. He called it a violation of Stoddard’s First Amendment rights and said the detention officer had not gotten his due process or been allowed to make his case before a jury.
He vowed again to appeal the judge’s ruling to a higher court, something he has failed to do since the order came out.
Asked whether Stoddard would surrender to an arrest warrant if one was issued today, Liddy refused to respond, calling the question “a hypothetical.”
After Liddy left, the defense attorney who had been wronged told reporters she was “surprised” at the whole affair.
“We came down here for an apology and we didn’t get that,” said Cuccia.
Maria Schaffer, an attorney now representing the defendant whose letter was taken by Stoddard. said she was “incredulous” about the scene that had just played out.
“Why go to all the trouble hauling us out here in the cold for their dog and pony show?” she said.
It’s up to the judge to decide what happens next.