What’s Going On in Arizona, Maricopa County? (part 2)
Fact based reporting
By Rob Roman
County Officials are suing Maricopa County The State of Arizona is suing the U.S. Government Juan Martinez is accusing the police of obstruction of justice The ACLU is suing Sheriff Joe Judges are suing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe is indicting County officials The U.S. Government is suing Sheriff Joe Prisoners are suing Maricopa County Juan Martinez is fighting with Judge Janet Barton The U.S. Government is suing Arizona
What’s going on in Arizona, MaricopaCounty?
MaricopaCounty is tough on crime and is the home of “America’s toughest sheriff. Who is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and how does he relate to what’s going on in MaricopaCounty and the Jodi Arias case? In some ways he has helped Jodi Arias by allowing her 1st amendment right to free speech, which resulted in facilitating her post conviction interviews. In other ways, his obsession with cost cutting has resulted in the two meals per day which, due to scheduling, caused Jodi some health problems during the trial.
According to Wikipedia: Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio (born June 14, 1932) is the five-time elected sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. First voted into office in 1992, Arpaio is responsible for law enforcement in Maricopa County. This includes management of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, county jail, courtroom security, prisoner transport, service of warrants, and service of process.
Since 2005, he has taken an outspoken stance as an advocate for strong enforcement of immigration law, and has become a flashpoint for opposition to Arizona’s SB1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. He is well known for attracting media attention, and styles himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”
Sheriff Joe is a controversial figure who has been accused of abuse of power, misuse of funds, illegal immigration enforcement, and racial profiling. The U.S. Justice Department is suing him. He is also being sued in a class–action lawsuit for racial profiling. Arpaio and Donald Trump are famous for investigating President Barack Obama‘s birth certificate, which they claim is a forgery.
Sheriff Joe had used such cost cutting measures as erecting a “tent city” in the desert to hold defendants facing trial, feeding prisoners “green baloney” and food discarded from other businesses, and forcing inmates, both men and women, to wear pink underwear and black and white striped uniforms.
Like the unending amount of loyalty oath signings U.S. airmen were subjected to in the novel Catch-22, there seems to be a competition in Arizona, Maricopa to see who can be the most conservative and the toughest on crime. Maybe that’s why MaricopaCounty is second only to ClarkCounty in Nevada for the most death penalty cases waiting to be tried. At some point, Sheriff Joe thought that there was corruption in the CountyOffices and he joined with a prosecutor to fight the corruption they saw. The result was a political war which mostly spared Sheriff Joe, but ended in the disbarment of the prosecutor.
Prosecutor Andrew Thomas joined forces with Sheriff Joe to wage a war against County officials, judges and others in 2008 and 2009. They filed criminal charges against some and they filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in federal court against others. Sheriff Joe and Thomas conducted “a coup in MaricopaCounty by arresting, prosecuting and suing all of the county elected officials, including sitting Judges they did not like”.
Prosecutor Thomas accused these people of a massive conspiracy against Sheriff Joe. Local attorneys organized a giant rally against Thomas and Sheriff Joe. Both Sheriff Joe and Thomas started this war while employed by the county. As a result, many of the targets these attacks sued MaricopaCounty, costing the county millions.
The County fought back and they brought massive power to bear on prosecutor Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
PHOENIX (AP) — “An Arizona ethics board disbarred Maricopa County’s former top prosecutor on Tuesday for violating the rules of conduct for lawyers in bringing criminal charges against two county officials and a judge in December 2009 with the purpose of embarrassing them.
The three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona courts ruled that Mr. Thomas and an assistant prosecutor broke criminal intimidation and perjury laws in knowingly bringing false bribery charges against Judge Gary Donahoe, then of Superior Court. The panel ruled that the evidence suggested that Sheriff Arpaio and one of his aides conspired with the two prosecutors.”
Notice that the very politically popular Sheriff Joe escaped from all this hoopla rather unscathed. Then there is the case of Anant Tripati. His legal research business investigated wrongdoing in MaricopaCounty. Mr. Tripati soon ended up being prosecuted by the Maricopa Attorney’s office and thrown in jail.
A native of Fiji, 54 year-old Anant Tripati owned a legal research firm in Beverly Hills. In 1991, Tripati provided assistance in a complex case in Maricopa Superior Court. He soon discovered some unethical, unlawful, and discriminatory practices. Tripati found evidence that prosecutors were manufacturing evidence, arresting, and prosecuting certain targeted people in MaricopaCounty.
Tripati was arrested and prosecuted for real estate fraud. Witnesses testified against him. He was sentenced to 52 years in prison with no possibility of parole.
Tripati claims the “witnesses” were pressured into testifying against him under the threat of arrest and prosecution. These witnesses wrote letters and gave sworn affidavits stating that Tripati was innocent, and that they were “threatened, coerced, intimidated, and otherwise forced” by employees of the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office into giving false testimony against him at trial. Tripati contends that these “witnesses” were the actual perpetrators of the crime. He remains in prison in Arizona.
There are more and more unusual occurrences happening in Arizona prisons and jails. Prisoners are “committing suicide” at rates much higher than national averages. Prisoners are refused emergency aid and even basic medical attention. An unusually high number of prisoners are dying under questionable circumstances. Here are a few examples.
The Arizona Department of Corrections announced on January 21, 2011 that Brenda Todd died in custody at Goodyear’s Perryville Prison, She was found unresponsive in her cell and medical responders attempted to revive her. They were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead. The ADC indicated that her death was “under investigation”.
“Since Todd’s death, several individuals have claimed that Todd pleaded for medical attention days before she was found dead, and that she even banged on the wall or door of her cell the night before her demise, asking for help.
Todd was doing 2.5 years for an aggravated DUI. She was housed in Perryville’s minimum security Santa Maria Unit.”
There are many more cases like this of prisoners with severe and even life-threatening illnesses who were denied medical attention and other basic services.
Powell was an inmate serving a twenty seven month prison term. On May 20, 2009, she was left outdoors in a human cage for four hours with no shade or water. The temperature was over 107 degrees (41 degrees C). The prison’s policy limits outside confinement to a maximum of 2 hours. “The county medical examiner found the cause of death to be due to complications from heat exposure. Her core body temperature upon examination was 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees C). She suffered burns and blisters all over her body.”
“Witnesses say she was repeatedly denied water by corrections officers, though the Commanding Officers deny this. According to a 3,000 page report released by the ADC, she pleaded to be taken back inside, but was ignored. Similarly, she was not allowed to use the restroom. When she was found unconscious, her body was covered with excrement from soiling herself.”
“Powell, who was serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution, was still alive but she expired after being transported to WestValleyHospital, where acting ADC Director Charles Ryan made the decision to have her life support suspended.”
“The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has chosen not to prosecute Arizona Department of Corrections staff in the death of inmate Marcia Powell”.
What happened is that Marcia Powell was barbecued alive. The staff of the prison claim it was an honest mistake. But would anyone in MaricopaCounty government leave their pet dog or cat out in unshaded area for 4 hours in 107 degree Arizona heat with no water?
One person was allowed to retire a few months early and a few people were fired, No one was held accountable for this unauthorized death sentence. Let’s face it, Marcia Powell was probably a “wise-ass” or a “loud-mouth” and she was “dealt with” by prison staff. Don’t even try to say that it was an “accident”, an “oversight”, or it “went too far”. There are some ignorant and sadistic guards, especially in places like Arizona, who are in this business for their own personal entertainment and to make sure that prisoners suffer for their crimes. Can there even be a reasonable debate on this matter? Here is a very recent, perfect example of just such an individual:
A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Detention Officer was accused of violating his girlfriend with a souvenir baseball bat, pepper-spraying her vagina, sticking a loaded gun in her mouth, and other crimes. The woman also accused him of assaulting her with wrestling holds, using a Taser on her, and throwing her high heeled shoes at her.
“A detention officer at one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jails is accused of violating a woman with a baseball bat, pepper-spraying her vagina, sticking a gun in her mouth, and more.”
“The 29-year-old woman told police Edmond used a wrestling hold to pin her to a bed and used the wooden bat during the assault. During an argument later he pointed a .40-caliber handgun at her, she told police. Another woman stepped between the two and Edmond grabbed the victim around the other woman, ripping the victim’s shirt and breaking her necklace and cell phone, according to a court document.
The victim told police it wasn’t the first incident with the suspect. She said he pepper-sprayed her vagina in 2005, used a stun gun on her, had previously placed a gun in her mouth, and broke the high heels off shoes to expose the nails and threw them at her.”
Edmond admitted to some of the accusations, but pled not guilty. Another incident this year involves another guard who is also accused of a violent domestic assault.
“An Avondale father and son were heavily drinking and got into an argument that ended with the father being stabbed multiple times. CJ Joe and his father were drinking and got into a heated argument over politics before allegedly stabbing his father, said Avondale Police. Joe remains in critical condition at a local hospital, police said. He was stabbed six times in the chest, back, biceps, shoulder and finger.”
In just the last few months, there are these two reports of guards lashing out in violent attacks on their partners and family members. If they are acting like this at home, how do you think they are treating the prisoners?
Sheriff Joe Arpaio has fought against his own County’s officials and judges in addition to his battles with the federal government. The U.S. federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union have fought back against Arizona and MaricopaCounty in a series of lawsuits. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the ADC (Arizona Department of Corrections) alleging widespread abuse leading to serious injuries and even death.
“The lawsuit filed Tuesday morning alleges thousands of prisoners within Arizona’s Department of Corrections system have received grossly inadequate medical, mental health and dental care over the last several years.”
“The state of Arizona has failed miserably providing basic needs,” said Daniel Pochoda, legal director with the ACLU. “When people are confined to prisons for 3 years or 5 years, they are not confined to a death sentence and many of these folks have died because of the absence of adequate care.”
Don’t worry about the fate of Arizona and MaricopaCounty because help is on the way:
After being disgraced, disbarred and losing a bid for Arizona Attorney General, Andrew Thomas is now running for Governor of Arizona in 2014.
“I’ll be focusing on the need to protect public safety, ensure border security and fight corruption, among other issues,” Thomas said in the e-mail.
“Thomas served as county attorney from 2005 until he resigned in 2010 to unsuccessfully run for Arizona attorney general. His political downfall came after he was accused of using his prosecutorial powers while in office for political purposes. Targets included judges, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and other county officials.”
Andrew Thomas claims that “honest prosecutors are railroaded for fighting corruption in this state.” There is controversy over whether Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas are the heroes or the villains in Arizona. There seems to always be considerable political turmoil swirling in and around the capital city of Phoenix, where something, be it corruption, malfeasance, scandals, or condemned prisoners, always seems to be rising out of the ashes.
In this environment it is not such a stretch of the imagination to see how investigations done on a Spartan budget lead to faulty and incomplete evidence. It is easy to see how the accused could be rubber stamped through the Grand Jury, indicted, overcharged, and arrested with little evidence and then pressured into a confession or a plea deal. What if you are the accused you choose to stand up, not make a deal, and fight the charges? What happens then? It appears that some people in the Attorney’s Office then find a way to put you in prison, make you suffer, and keep you there for a long time.
The Prosecutor’s has been called, and they will double down on the gamble and take you to trial. The County wants to show they are tough on crime and will not back down on their charge. Prosecutors will bend the rules to “supplement” the evidence, make the evidence fit and hide or destroy evidence. They will find “witnesses” to testify against you. They will threaten and intimidate your witnesses. They will not allow exculpatory evidence into your trial. They will use their contacts in the media to demonize you.
The police and prosecutors, technicians and medical examiners, and even judges will “cut corners” to get a conviction and make it stick. They are doing this in the interest of justice and public safety. Many times the accused are guilty, so there are few complaints.
A better idea might be to spend a little more on resources and conduct thorough and fair investigations. This way you can indict, charge and prosecute suspects on sound and reliable evidence, and conduct fair trials. Convicts can be put into custody under safe and humane conditions. Then you can expect to save a lot of money on murder trials, re-trials and lawsuits.
The Jodi Arias trial shined a spotlight on the intense political environment and questionable practices in MaricopaCounty and ArizonaState. Enormous efforts are made to save money, but they lost millions of taxpayer dollars to lawsuits. They are forced to spend millions more dollars to wrest a death verdict in the Arias trial. This is even though this never should have been a death penalty case and the death penalty can not be achieved or it will not hold in this case.
Debra Milke is forced back to a death penalty trial even though the County has ZERO evidence in this case. The CountyDistrict Attorney needs to save face on the Arias case and the Milke case. If Debra Milke were guilty, why doesn’t either of the two convicts involved in her son’s murder, and currently serving on Arizona’s death row, wish to testify against her? Aren’t they on death row only because she wanted her 4 year-old son dead?
Currently, there are around 120 pending death penalty cases in Arizona. So the case of Jodi Arias needs to go well and smoothly for them. Judge Sherry Stephens is one of several judges who are new to death penalty cases simply because there are so many of these cases on the docket. Meanwhile, other states such as Maryland have put an end to the death penalty due to the overwhelming costs and the alarming amount of wrongful convictions.
They have saved a lot of money and now people in Arizona are agitating for change. Everybody’s reputation is on the line in this case. So, in State v. Debra Jean Milke and State v. Jodi Ann Arias, are we really seeing a search for the truth leading to Justice? Perhaps we are really seeing a win as an absolute political necessity for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. We will have to see what kinds of decisions are made in both the Debra Milke and the Jodi Arias death penalty cases to be sure.
Please see What’s going on in Arizona, Maricopa County (Part 1)
All Rights Reserved
Unlike some Blogs, ALL comments are accepted and will be posted.