Officer to judge: No way I'll apologize

By Nick R. Martin | December 1st, 2009 | 8:59 am | 29 Comments »


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.


  • Anonymous

    Does the judge have a choice? The order was to apologize or go to jail on Dec. 1, and since we’re all under national scrutiny at this point, I can’t see how Donahoe can back off. Whether the order to serve the warrant is followed seems likely to be the next step in this interesting saga.

    Of course there’s always the appeal process, but wouldn’t that take special handling to get the current court order put on hold before the warrant is issued? I don’t know; I’m not an attorney.

    BTW, who’s footing the bill for all this legal back and forth? It wouldn’t be the taxpayer maybe?

  • StormAZ

    Does the judge have a choice? The order was to apologize or go to jail on Dec. 1, and since we're all under national scrutiny at this point, I can't see how Donahoe can back off. Whether the order to serve the warrant is followed seems likely to be the next step in this interesting saga.

    Of course there's always the appeal process, but wouldn't that take special handling to get the current court order put on hold before the warrant is issued? I don't know; I'm not an attorney.

    BTW, who's footing the bill for all this legal back and forth? It wouldn't be the taxpayer maybe?

  • Name

    Off to jail, pal. ASAP.

  • Name

    Off to jail, pal. ASAP.

  • http://rantsofapublicdefender.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    How is it part of the officer’s job to screen all documents that enter the courtroom? I would wager he doesn’t screen anything brought in by prosecutors. Do these officers seriously look through every file brought in by defense attorneys? Do they “inspect” every document defense attorneys carry? Do they seriously think they’re entitled to make copies of whatever they choose?

    If this is the case, I suggest two things need to happen. 1) The defense bar of Maricopa County needs to put a stop to it now. 2) The deputies being trained by Sheriff Joe need to be re-trained to do their jobs properly and in compliance with the Constitution.

  • http://rantsofapublicdefender.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    How is it part of the officer's job to screen all documents that enter the courtroom? I would wager he doesn't screen anything brought in by prosecutors. Do these officers seriously look through every file brought in by defense attorneys? Do they “inspect” every document defense attorneys carry? Do they seriously think they're entitled to make copies of whatever they choose?

    If this is the case, I suggest two things need to happen. 1) The defense bar of Maricopa County needs to put a stop to it now. 2) The deputies being trained by Sheriff Joe need to be re-trained to do their jobs properly and in compliance with the Constitution.

  • Shar Pei

    Business as usual, Stoddard is working in Judge Lisa Flores courtroom this morning.

  • jamesonjohnson

    Business as usual, Stoddard is working in Judge Lisa Flores courtroom this morning.

  • http://reason.com/blog/2009/12/01/the-drama-builds-in-marikafka The Drama Builds in Marikafka County – Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

    [...] Freelance journalist Nick Martin was there: [...]

  • http://www.theagitator.com/2009/12/01/the-drama-builds-in-marakafka-county/ The Drama Builds in Marakafka County | The Agitator

    [...] journalist Nick Martin was there: Before Stoddard walked off in defiance of his court-ordered deadline, Craig Mehrens, a veteran [...]

  • http://www.craigkeeling.com craig_keeling

    Ok, Donahoe. You know what needs to be done then. I’m pretty sure it’s the job of law enforcement to enforce the law, not make it up as they go.

  • dubblethink

    Ok, Donahoe. You know what needs to be done then. I'm pretty sure it's the job of law enforcement to enforce the law, not make it up as they go.

  • http://www.heatcity.org/2009/12/hes-got-guts-officer-adam-stoddard-is-on-the-job-today-not-in-jail.html He’s got guts! Officer Adam Stoddard is on the job today, not in jail | Heat City

    [...] 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 [...]

  • Jason

    Let’s just repeal the 4th amendment and get it over with. The Supreme Court has no respect for it, the police/sheriffs have no respect for it, and the local judges won’t enforce it. Why bother having it?

  • http://ingunowners.com/forums/politics_laws_and_2nd_amendment/59941-deputy_steals_defense_lawyers_file-3.html#post697855 Deputy Steals Defense Lawyers File – Page 3 – INGunOwners

    [...] [...]

  • Jason

    Let's just repeal the 4th amendment and get it over with. The Supreme Court has no respect for it, the police/sheriffs have no respect for it, and the local judges won't enforce it. Why bother having it?

  • lawyerboy

    I wonder what would possess the judge whose courtroom Stoddard works in to permit him to report for work when she knows that he has been ordered by another judge to report to jail. That seems disrespectful, and it undermines confidence in the courts.

  • lawyerboy

    I wonder what would possess the judge whose courtroom Stoddard works in to permit him to report for work when she knows that he has been ordered by another judge to report to jail. That seems disrespectful, and it undermines confidence in the courts.

  • MDC

    So, Stoddard can’t lie – meaning the nonsense about “keywords” on a paper (which weren’t visible due to being underneath a pile of papers) is supposedly true.

    Stoddard obviously has no problem lying.

  • MDC

    So, Stoddard can't lie – meaning the nonsense about “keywords” on a paper (which weren't visible due to being underneath a pile of papers) is supposedly true.

    Stoddard obviously has no problem lying.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t this the same judge who didn’t see Stoddard sifting through the defense attorney’s file even though it happened right in front of her? Maybe she didn’t notice he was there this morning?

  • StormAZ

    Isn't this the same judge who didn't see Stoddard sifting through the defense attorney's file even though it happened right in front of her? Maybe she didn't notice he was there this morning?

  • http://www.heatcity.org/2009/12/detention-officer-will-report-to-jail-tonight-says-sheriffs-office.html Detention officer will report to jail tonight, says sheriffs office | Heat City

    [...] a news conference last night, Stoddard said he was refusing to obey a judge’s order to apologize for taking a [...]

  • http://www.heatcity.org/2009/12/against-attorneys-advice-stoddard-spends-the-night-in-jail-after-all.html Against attorney’s advice, Stoddard spends the night in jail after all | Heat City

    [...] was sent to the jail after he refused an order by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe to hold a news conference and publicly [...]

  • http://yahoo.com/ Name

    No – the Judge issuing the order was not the judge who was handling the hearing at the time Stoddard violated privileged documents.

  • http://yahoo.com/ Name

    No – the Judge issuing the order was not the judge who was handling the hearing at the time Stoddard violated privileged documents.

  • http://blog.bloodstar.org/?p=3890 Bloodstar » The Maricopa County Circus Continues

    [...] Martin is on the scene of the non apology “Judge Donahoe has ordered me to feel something I do not” Stoddard said. “He has ordered me [...]

  • http://www.heatcity.org/2009/12/in-shadow-of-courthouse-officers-tell-judge-to-let-their-colleague-go.html In shadow of courthouse, officers tell judge to let their colleague go | Heat City

    [...] apologize to the attorney, Joanne Cuccia, or else go to jail. On Monday night, Stoddard held a defiant news conference to say he would not apologize for doing his [...]

  • http://www.heatcity.org/2010/04/jail-was-no-place-for-detention-officer-stoddard-appeals-court-says.html Jail was no place for detention officer Stoddard, appeals court says | Heat City

    [...] Stoddard refused, saying he stood by his actions. In turn, Donahoe sent him to jail for 10 days in December for [...]