Read the latest episode in the on-going Deputy Stoddard soap opera. Regardless of what each side says, it seems to me that Deputy Stoddard just might be a high profile pawn in an ongoing internal political war inside Maricopa County.
Originally posted on AZCentral.com.
Adam Stoddard is out of jail.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Detention Officer was released from the Lower Buckeye Jail Thursday morning after an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling that allowed Stoddard to leave custody pending the outcome of an appeal his attorney filed.
The Appeals Court ruling noted that granting the stay should not be interpreted as any ruling on the merits of the appeal. The court will consider the appeal petition on Jan. 5.
Stoddard had been in jail since Dec. 1, after he refused an order from Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe to make a public apology to a defense attorney. It was revealed in the Appeals Court hearing on Wednesday that he was held in the Lower Buckeye Jail.
Donahoe’s order followed a hearing on the propriety of Stoddard’s decision to remove documents from defense attorney Joanne Cuccia’s file during an October sentencing hearing for Antonio Solis Lozano.
Stoddard’s attorney, Tom Liddy, said despite the detention officer’s release, the matter still had a long way to go before resolution.
“This ordeal is not over,” Liddy said. “This should not have happened.”
Stoddard’s case has since become a symbol of the friction between the Sheriff’s Office and the courts.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio again referred to those ongoing political battles and praised Stoddard for his decision to report to custody — a decision that was entirely up to the 25-year-old detention officer.
“I hate to call our officer a political prisoner, but that’s the way I feel because of the conduct of the judge in this matter,” Arpaio said. “I have a feeling the judge may not like the sheriff.”
Arpaio said Stoddard received special treatment afforded to any law-enforcement officer while he was in the Lower Buckeye Jail, including being held in closed custody, and that he was not forced to wear the sheriff’s trademark pink underwear because Stoddard had not committed a crime.
Donahoe found Stoddard in civil contempt.
Since Stoddard has been in the sheriff’s custody, Superior Courts in downtown Phoenix were disrupted for one day by a spate of deputies calling in sick and a bomb threat — neither of which were related to Donahoe’s ruling, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The judge presiding over Lozano’s sentencing hearing has had trouble getting deputies to bring in-custody inmates to her courtroom on time, if at all, which led to her canceling Lozano’s sentencing hearing scheduled for Monday. That case is pending reassignment to another judge.
Arpaio said sheriff’s officials were looking into Judge Lisa Flores’ complaints in an attempt to address them.
Capt. Bill Vanausdal, who oversees the court security unit, said judges can vacate calendars when sheriff’s personnel are a few minutes late bringing inmates to court and that there was no coördinated effort on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office to keep Flores from receiving inmates.
Donahoe’s decision was also mentioned in a criminal complaint County Attorney Andrew Thomas filed against the judge on Wednesday as evidence of Donahoe’s bias, though there were no charges associated with the judge’s order that Stoddard report to jail until he apologized.
Lozano, 26, was in the middle of a sentencing hearing for aggravated assault on Oct. 19 when surveillance footage shows Stoddard move behind Lozano. The footage shows Stoddard looking down at a document sticking out of a file before pulling it out for a closer look. Stoddard testified that he saw the words “going to,” “steal” and “money” grouped together on the document and became concerned.
The footage of Stoddard’s action became a staple on local and national newscasts.