A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Maricopa County: An American Embarrassment

I've watched, but other than posting the video, haven't written about the garbage coming out of Maricopa County, Arizona. I've left it to those who have taken this deflated and disgusting ball, and run with it. Those like Jeff Gamso, who has marvelously written on the disaster that is the judicial system in Maricopa County.

After yesterday's "indictment" of Judge Gary Donohue, I just can't take it anymore.

This, is a disgrace, playing out daily, and evidencing who is really in charge over there.


I'm glad this is all happening. Really, I am.

Because this issue of who really runs our judicial system, everywhere in America, is rarely discussed.

Walk into any legislative committee hearing on criminal justice and you'll see it - a smattering of prosecutors, defense lawyers, maybe a judge or two, and then rows and rows of uniformed police officers. One will speak, 25 will be there for effect.

There is no question but that our "first responders" - police, fire, ambulance, need the support and funds of elected officials. But since 9/11 everything has changed. Whatever power police ask for, they usually get. Blind support of law enforcement's desire to pull over more people for more reasons for more searches is what gets votes. The public is tired of crime, and tired of talking about civil rights.

So Judge Donohue held a police officer in contempt. He asked for an apology. He got an indictment. An indictment, signed by the county attorney. This is no longer about justice, it's about taking sides. It's about the cops versus the judges, lawyers versus judges on the issue of police power, and citizens divided on how they feel about their most trusted fellow citizens, cops. No surprise that there are those who didn't know cops couldn't just pilfer through a defense attorney's file in court. There are those who think the defense lawyer should be sanctioned for representing someone who would write a letter that would raise the suspicion of the police. (Not really, but you know what I mean).

In the end, this dust up will cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County, Arizona, millions.

It's time for the feds to swarm in here. This is getting out of hand.

No, it's gotten out of hand.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com


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  1. Once correction: Donahoe was not indicted. Candy Thomas issued a direct complaint, and will be arguing at a preliminary hearing. This is *almost* unheard of in Marikafka County, where the Grand Jury probably meets in Arpaio's garage.

    Also of note, today the Arizona Court of Appeals stayed a pair of search warrants for Presiding Judge Mundell's home and chambers.

  2. Anonymous4:23 AM

    Sheriff Arpaio is a disgrace to law enforcement. Even the police in neighboring jurisdictions will say that. There is a difference between vigorous but impartial enforcement of the law under court supervision and what he is doing.