Maricopa County detention officers plan to hold candlight vigils starting this evening to protest the jailing of a fellow officer who swiped papers from a defense attorney's file.
The Web site for the Maricopa County Association of Detention Officers says the vigil will run "nightly" from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the steps of the plaza of the Superior Court House Building 201 West Jefferson Street.
Meanwhile, court officials say yesterday's apparent "sick-out" of about 20 detention officers, coming the morning after Stoddard was jailed, delayed 143 criminal cases.
The sudden malady that struck the officers was followed by a bomb threat at the court, which was then followed by a protest by more than 100 officers outside the court.
Although the Sheriff's Office, Phoenix police, the U.S. Marshal's Office, and Arizona State University campus police responded to the phoned-in bomb threat, the Sheriff's Office is handling the investigation.
Given Sheriff Joe Arpaio's strong statements about a "vendetta" by Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, who ordered Stoddard to jail unless he apologized to the defense attorney (Stoddard didn't apologize), we're suspicious of this investigation from the start. We're supposed to trust that Arpaio's office will do a diligent job, even though it seems possible that one of the office's employees could have called in the threat.
We know how seriously the Sheriff's Office takes threats against the sheriff -- let's see how seriously this one is taken.
And speaking of trust, Superior Court officials tell New Times they have to take the Sheriff's Office at its word that Stoddard is in jail, like he's supposed to be. Stoddard's lawyer, Deputy County Attorney Tom Liddy (son of G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy), told a local news blogger that Judge Donahoe had "screwed up" the contempt-of-court order so badly that Stoddard could not be properly booked into jail. We're supposed to believe he's "voluntarily" staying in jail.
Court computers show no record of Stoddard being booked in, officials say. We've put a message in with Donahoe's office to find out if he's satisfied with how things are playing out.
The way we see it, Stoddard might be in jail -- or he might not be.
And even if he is in "jail," does that mean the so-called Mesa Hilton jail? Does it even mean a cell?
One other thing: Of the deputies and detention officers at the protest yesterday, (who were reportedly off-duty at the time), had any also called in sick?
The aforementioned news blogger, Nick Martin of HeatCity.org, sent us several pictures he took on the courthouse plaza on Wednesday. Maybe someone can spot one or more of the supposed sickies in the crowd. We imagine tonight's candlelight vigil will be attended by some detention officers who have made a swift recovery.
Photos by Martin: