Judge Says He Will Rule in Judicial Watch Lawsuit Against Phoenix Soon as Possible
A Maricopa County judge said today he will rule as soon as possible on whether Phoenix has to release logs kept by members of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's security detail.
Attorneys for Phoenix and Judicial Watch questioned witnesses, including Ruben Gonzales, a former member of Gordon's security detail; Paul Johnson, a former Phoenix mayor and good friend of Gordon's, and Sergeant Scott Masino, currently on Gordon's security detail.
Judicial Watch, a conservative think tank that requested the logs in December, filed the lawsuit against the city because it refused to release them, also called "unscheduled worksheets."
There weren't any real fireworks at the hearing. Attorneys questioned witnesses about the information contained in the logs to establish why they should or should not be released.
The judge sided with Judicial Watch and allowed the courtroom to remain open to the public during the testimony of an undercover police officer and former member of Gordon's detail. The courtroom cameras were turned off, and no photos were taken of the detective.
The judge also turned down the city's request [after Judicial Watch objected] to enter into evidence a New Times article that quoted Judicial Watch's Director of Research Chris Farrell.
In that article, he told New Times that the agency was willing to sue for the release of the information. He said: "We'll litigate it. We're very persistent. We're like a bad rash. We don't go away."
The attorney for Phoenix told the judge that comments in that article revealed Judicial Watch's motive to harass the city. Judicial Watch said its request was not about the agency's interests, rather about the public's.
Interesting nuggets of information from the hearing:
- Witnesses testified that as much as 75 percent of what Gordon does on a daily basis is not listed on his public calendar.
- The mission of Gordon's security detail is to keep the mayor safe, secure, and protect him from undue embarrassment. Some examples given in court of the latter included making sure Gordon wasn't walking around with toilet paper on his shoe, making sure he didn't trip on cords or preventing people from throwing anything at him, like pies.
- Gonzales, retired from the Phoenix Police Department, testified that since the security detail is responsible for reviewing the mayor's movements and changing patterns, he didn't think the release of the years-old records requested should pose a security risk for Gordon.
- Sergeant Rick Fricke, an undercover cop and former member of Gordon's security team, and Masino testified that releasing any of the records would "absolutely" pose a security risk for the mayor. Both said, if the records were released and Gordon's daily routines were exposed, they would need more officers to keep Gordon safe.
- To establish that threats against elected officials are real, Johnson told the court about a stalker who broke into his home while he was mayor. He said a family vacation was listed on his public calendar, and an Arizona Republic reporter wrote about Johnson being out of town. The stalker broke into Johnson's house and stole his wife's undergarments. Phoenix also gave other examples of threats against Gordon and his family.
Judicial Watch argued that keeping the records shrouded in secrecy prohibits the public from knowing whether city resources are used appropriately.
Gordon's security detail, made up of four Phoenix police officers paid by tax payers, created the logs to tracked how they spent their time. As part of the records, they made notes about where they took Gordon and with whom he met.
An attorney for Phoenix told the court that the logs kept by Gordon's security detail contained personal and private information that, if released, could put the mayor in harm's way or violate his privacy. Some examples include Gordon's home address or the names and addresses of friends he meets with throughout a day.
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