By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
Well, organized crime is a business. He may not look like Gordon Gekko, but Garcia could be seen by some as a venture capitalist of a different sort.
Interestingly, both bride and groom give as their "current residence" the Phoenix UPS drop box that Fischer has on her Bar listing. A pastor in the Universal Life Church, which ordains ministers online, joined the pair in matrimony.
Although I did not receive a call back from Big Sandy's public-information officer, I know that federal inmates are allowed to marry with the consent of their warden. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons' website leaves the impression that conjugal visits are not allowed.
Law enforcement sources claim Fischer has sent nude photos of herself to Garcia.
I cannot find any indication that Fischer has removed herself as an associate counsel in Garcia's pending county charges, though the Bar's ethical rules clearly state that being married to a client can be a conflict in certain instances.
In any case, the U.S. District Court in Arizona is not twiddling its thumbs waiting for the Bar to act.
A couple of weeks ago, the federal court's jurists voted unanimously to remove Fischer as a so-called CJA panel attorney. CJA stands for "Criminal Justice Act," and under that federal statute, certain private attorneys can be appointed to represent those in federal court who cannot afford a lawyer.
Fischer had been a CJA attorney for several years, and by all accounts, she has a good reputation. Judges, prosecutors, and cops all told me that — other than her unusual penal proclivities — she's considered a competent attorney.
The recent hearing stripping Fischer from the CJA list has been sealed, but Chief Judge Roslyn O. Silver explained that Fischer's marriage to a member of the New Mexican Mafia was the reason for her de-listing for any pending or future cases.
"Because of the severity of the allegations, the seriousness of them, [and] the potential harm involved, we decided as a court that she should be removed from the panel completely," Silver said.
Silver pointed out that because the federal court has other cases before it dealing with members of this same criminal street gang, it had no choice but to act expeditiously.
It was not just that Fischer had married a nefarious individual. Rather, there were specific cases that could potentially be affected by Fischer's association with Garcia.
"We cannot afford, nor can anyone afford, the possibility with this particular group, of any potential harm to anyone," Silver said.
At the same time, she lamented the action the court was forced to take against Fischer, stating that she'd known Fischer "all my career" and that Fischer was perceived as a "professional lawyer" by the court.
"Carmen Fischer was well regarded," offered Silver. "So it was regretful from our point of view that we had to remove her from the panel. It was a unanimous decision, but it was a difficult one."
Even Fischer's adversaries in court shared this opinion. One prosecutor described Fischer as well liked, even while her romantic lapses are the subject of some derision.
"A lot of us have a lot of respect for her," the prosecutor told me. "But a lot of us are very upset with the decisions she's made in her personal life. It's hard to reconcile."
What's difficult to stomach, however, is that Fischer has successfully skirted discipline from the state Bar.
Alleged sexual monkeyshines with a double-murderer was bad enough, but Fischer's connection to someone who is characterized as a shot-caller in the New Mexican Mafia is downright scary.
Law enforcement officials are concerned that, were Fischer so inclined, she could abuse mail or visitation privileges that spouses and lawyers have, in furtherance of illegal activity.
It's worth observing that even defense lawyers are officers of the court, with a duty to justice, just as are prosecuting attorneys.
Being in bed, figuratively and literally, with organized crime is at variance with this obligation.
I'm sure some will argue that Fischer has the right to marry anyone she wants. And with that sentiment, I would agree.
On the flip side, there should be some standards that lawyers should obey in this regard.
Maybe Fischer should explore a different career, one in which dating a criminal is no biggie. Only, there are few other jobs in which her affection for imprisoned bad boys could be requited.