Is Nothing Sacred?: Apparently Not in Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas’ Wacked Legal World

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Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe could not be more different from Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Donahoe is as sober as, well, a judge and has exactly zero media savvy. The bellicose Arpaio lives for media "events."

Donahoe, who is the county's criminal presiding judge, is nearing retirement.


Paul Rubins feature

When the 77-year-old Arpaio finally has to call it a career, he may have to be dragged out of his office in downtown Phoenix.

Judge Donahoe's record over two decades on the bench reflects a conservative, law-and-order bent (forget the grossly inaccurate recent attempts by Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas to typecast him as "soft" on defendants).

To Arpaio and his kindred spirit, Thomas, the rule of law is whatever they say it is.

Their theme in recent months has been that the executive and judicial branches of Maricopa County are populated with corrupt individuals primed, essentially, to bring down the American way of life.

The ubiquitous pair have alleged in civil lawsuits and a criminal complaint that Judge Donahoe is at the epicenter of a sinister conspiracy with judicial colleagues, the county Board of Supervisors, and a local law firm that does business with Maricopa County.

Andy Thomas has dubbed it a "triad," sounding like Joe McCarthy, the demagogic senator from Wisconsin who ruined many lives in the late 1940s and early 1950s with his bleatings about communists.

Thomas and Arpaio increasingly have become addicted to launching investigations against any and all political enemies, real and invented. It's not just about ACLU attorneys, illegal immigrants, electoral opponents, and newspaper publishers anymore.

On December 9, Thomas and Arpaio accused Donahoe of several felonious acts, alleging that he had committed bribery, obstructed justice, and hindered a potential prosecution of alleged malfeasance in the construction of the Superior Court tower.

The criminal "case" against Donahoe seems to many insiders — including, privately, several prosecutors in Thomas' own office — a pathetically thin, a politically motivated hit job.

But it's especially important to remember, as journalist Edward R. Murrow once said of Senator McCarthy, that "accusation is not proof and that conviction depends on evidence and due process of law."

Coincidentally or not, the criminal filing against Donahoe came less than two weeks after the judge ordered Adam Stoddard, a sheriff's detention officer, to jail after a highly charged contempt-of-court case.

Stoddard had rifled through defense attorney Joanne Cuccia's private legal file inside the courtroom of Judge Lisa Flores as the attorney addressed the judge during an October 19 sentencing hearing.

The detention officer removed three pages, the contents of a letter from defendant Antonio Lozano to his attorney, Cuccia, who works for the Office of the Legal Defender.

The officer's maneuver was outrageous on several levels and, perhaps, unprecedented in Maricopa County.

In fact, New Times could find no other case nationwide in which a detention officer or other courtroom security official had been caught poking around in a defense attorney's file without notifying a judge about his or her emergent concerns.

Lozano's letter should have been protected from scrutiny under attorney-client privilege, which the American Bar Association says "is fundamental to preserve the constitutionally based right to effective assistance of legal counsel."

But Stoddard would later claim he was justified in violating this sacred trust. He said that four words he read in the few inches of the letter in "plain view" outside the bottom of the file had alerted him to a potential security risk.

Those four non-sequential words were "going to" "steal" and "money."

Stoddard then had proceeded to quietly hand the pages to a sheriff's deputy for copying. He later stuck them back into the file during a near-chaotic courtroom scene that ensued after Lozano realized what was happening.

It occurred as courtroom cameras captured everything.

The remarkable recording propelled the story onto the national stage. (The video of the incident has been played more than 114,000 times on YouTube).

Stoddard's brazenness evoked outrage in many viewers, though steadfast supporters of Joe Arpaio — and there is a legion — applauded the detention officer's chutzpah.

Judge Donahoe would find Stoddard in contempt of court for invading the defense attorney's files.

It is uncertain whether Donahoe's proposed punishment of the detention officer angered Arpaio and Thomas enough to expedite their criminal case against the judge.

But it is safe to say that it escalated the war against county judges overall.

On November 17, the judge ordered Adam Stoddard to apologize in a press conference on the plaza of the Superior Court complex in downtown Phoenix.

The judge told Stoddard to offer attorney Cuccia "a sincere verbal and written apology for "invading her defense file and for the damage that his conduct may have caused to her professional reputation."

If Cuccia expressed dissatisfaction with the apology, Stoddard would have to report to jail — as an inmate.

Donahoe gave the officer 11 days to comply.

The judge's peculiar order was heaven-sent for Joe Arpaio and Andy Thomas.

They had been warring with Donahoe and the courts for months over issues that included the sheriff's chronic inability to not get inmates to court hearings on time and the judge's series of adverse rulings against Arpaio and Thomas in myriad other high-profile cases.

With his action, the judge guaranteed that the Stoddard case would become the kind of media circus that Arpaio and Thomas adore.

The sheriff quickly attempted to eat Don­ahoe alive in the media. He called the judge's order "the most disgusting thing I've ever heard" and effusively praised Stoddard for grabbing the defense attorney's file.

"Superior Court judges do not order my detention officers to hold press conferences," the sheriff snarled.

Thus began a relentless effort by Arpaio's forces to remake Stoddard into a martyr for the cause — the sheriff's cause.

On the evening of November 30 — Judge Donahoe's cutoff date for the press conference — Stoddard spoke in a prepared statement to a gaggle of media.

"I cannot not apologize for putting court safety first," he said. "The judge therefore puts me in a position where I must lie or go to jail. And I will not lie."

Stoddard then reported to "jail," as ordered, on December 1 for almost 10 days in quasi-custody (even his own counsel later conceded that Stoddard's accommodations had been comfortable, unlike those of most inmates).

The day after Stoddard's incarceration, an unlikely number of sheriff's deputies and detention officers called in sick, which greatly slowed business at Superior Court.

Then, a curious bomb scare that morning shut down the court complex for more than three hours.

Adam Stoddard was a "political prisoner," Arpaio repeated over the next several days, the victim of a criminal-coddling, illegal-immigrant-loving, sheriff-hating judge.

On December 10, the Arizona Court of Appeals ordered Stoddard's release from custody until it considers his case next month.

He since has returned to work.

Adam Stoddard was no political prisoner.

He has become a political pawn in a high-stakes war that has come to more resemble a military coup in a Third World country.

Ultimately, Stoddard's case speaks to the craziness prevalent in Maricopa County.

Ground zero for the madness may be the county courthouse, where a detention officer can, on his own initiative, take documents from an attorney's private legal file under a flimsy pretext and then become a folk hero to Arpaio supporters.

Deputies and detention officers held candlelight vigils (which wound up prominently on TV news) in the courthouse plaza protesting Stoddard's "incarceration."

The early-evening gatherings lost steam after a day or two, but quotes coming from Arpaio's camp suggested that the raiding of confidential attorney files was business as usual.

Part of the Arpaio/Thomas game plan was to slime Joanne Cuccia, the defense attorney who had confronted Stoddard in court after the incident.

Thinly veiled media quotes and talk behind the scenes attempted to tar Cuccia as a possible cohort (and/or consort) of her 26-year-old client Antonio Lozano, an illegal immigrant and a Mexican Mafia associate with a long criminal history.

"Can't you just see her falling for that dirtball?" a sheriff's deputy recently told New Times, implying that Cuccia, the married mother of a young child, somehow became romantically entangled with Lozano.

Cuccia told New Times in an interview last week, "They have planted the story all over the place that I'm this tramp, that I'm a friend of the Mexican Mafia. All because I had the nerve to question a detention officer who rifled through my legal files. Insane."

Joanne Cuccia's day began typically on October 19 — she spent a little time with her husband and young daughter before heading to work in downtown Phoenix.

The native of Queens, New York, still retains the accent and rhythms of an East Coaster. She talks and thinks fast, but her colleagues say she's thorough, organized, and passionate on the job.

Public defender may seem an unlikely profession for the daughter of a career New York City transit policeman who spent a decade as a Scottsdale cop after his first retirement.

But Cuccia took a job with the county Public Defender's Office after graduating from the ASU College of Law in 1999. About five years ago, she moved over to the Office of the Legal Defender, another county public-defense agency.

"I've never wanted to be high-profile," she says. "I'm not that exciting. I've never been a thrill-seeker, and I always obey the rules."

Those rules included passing through a metal detector at the county courthouse on her way to the sentencing hearing that day.

It would be Cuccia's first time appearing before Judge Lisa Flores, new to the criminal bench after a few years in Family Court.

Cuccia was there on behalf of Antonio "Drifter" Lozano, who had pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing to aggravated assault.

Court records show Lozano entered the States illegally from Mexico with his mother at age 5. The juvenile courts first deemed him incorrigible when he was 13, and he later served time at Adobe Mountain, a state-operated prison for kids.

By the time Lozano turned 16, a probation officer already had dubbed him a "very violent drug user." He served three years in adult prison for misconduct involving weapons before he was 21.

Earlier this year, a county jury acquitted Lozano of murdering two brothers, a Phoenix case that dated back to 2003.

Now, Lozano was facing a few more years in prison for punching a fellow inmate while in a holding cell at Superior Court.

Two security officers, Deputy Francisco Campillo and Detention Officer Adam Stoddard, were assigned to Judge Flores' courtroom that morning.

Campillo later testified that about a dozen inmates sat in the jury box waiting for their cases to be called, shackled to each other and in handcuffs.

Joanne Cuccia tells New Times that everything seemed routine — until it wasn't.

"I know the drill in my sleep," she says.

The drill for a criminal-defense attorney at the county courthouse includes removing staples from paperwork that an inmate client might handle, and allowing sheriff's officers to scan (looking for contraband, not at content) documents that attorney and client review together before a judge calls their case.

Cuccia says she left her Antonio Lozano file on the counsel's table, inside the courtroom well, and walked toward the jury to confer with her client.

She says all she had in hand was a copy of Lozano's pre-sentence report and a pen.

She recalls giving Deputy Campillo the staples from the report, which she had just removed as part of protocol. (The deputy corroborated her account.)

Lozano had paperwork in a manila folder that also had been searched by sheriff's officials, according to later testimony.

Speaking generally, Cuccia says she and her client discussed mitigating evidence she would be presenting, hoping to persuade Judge Flores to impose a shorter sentence.

She says she stepped outside the courtroom to speak briefly with Lozano's sister and a friend of her client's about the upcoming hearing.

The courtroom recording depicts what happened next:

Cuccia leaves the Lozano file on the table as she and her client — still shackled and handcuffed and wearing black-and-white-striped jail garb — step to the lectern in front of the judge.

Three deputy county attorneys look on from their table, including Lozano's prosecutor, Jennifer Linn.

Cuccia pleads with Judge Flores for the lesser sentence.

Detention Officer Stoddard comes into view, walking in front of the prosecutors. He positions himself with arms folded directly behind Cuccia and Lozano, between the two counsel tables.

A few pages of white, lined paper stick out from the bottom — four inches or so, by later accounts — of Cuccia's legal file on Lozano.

At 9:26 a.m., Stoddard takes a few steps to the defense table and stares down at the file. Sixteen seconds later, he reaches down and pulls the paper out a bit more.

He continues to look at it for another 21 seconds — a relatively long time, given the circumstances, to study what turned out to be three lines of writing and 28 words.

Stoddard gestures to Deputy Campillo to come over. He whispers something to the deputy and then yanks three pages out of Cuccia's file and hands them to him.

Unaware of what's going on behind her, Cuccia continues to speak to the judge.

But Lozano sees something out of the corner of his eye, and he nudges Cuccia. She turns around and asks the officers if everything is okay.

Stoddard says it is.

Cuccia turns back to the judge and continues. Lozano interrupts her and says aloud that the officers had taken a letter from the file.

The deputy, who is a sworn peace officer (Stoddard is not), leaves the courtroom with the documents.

Rattled, Cuccia asks the judge if she can approach the bench. Flores says yes, and asks Stoddard to join her.

"I don't know what's going on, judge," Cuccia says anxiously. "The deputy just took something . . ."

Stoddard mutters that he took a letter.

"I didn't just get a letter from Mr. Lozano," Cuccia tells the judge before describing precisely what she had done in court that morning — the bit with the staples, the pre-sentence report, and so on.

The attorney soon returns to the lectern, where Lozano has remained.

"Any letters I received from Mr. Lozano, I received from regular jail mail," Cuccia says for all in attendance to hear. "I want to know what they took!"

She pounds the lectern, then apologizes to the judge: "I'm sorry. This is the first time in 10 years of practicing law that this has ever happened to me. I need to know what they took, why they took it, and what's going on."

Judge Flores asks Stoddard, "Could you give us a clue?"

He doesn't, saying only that he took a handwritten paper from the file.

The judge doesn't push him.

"Ms. Cuccia," Flores says, "I think you should take a deep breath and calm down here a little bit, all right?"

The judge asks Stoddard whether he took something off the counsel table.

He says he did.

"But you don't get to do that," Cuccia tells him. "I want an investigation into what was taken."

Flores seems uncertain what to do next. She says her courtroom deputies "have quite a lot of leeway to do what they think is necessary in a situation. Sitting here, I'm not exactly sure what's going on either. But maybe we can talk about this at another time."

Deputy Campillo returns to the courtroom and hands Stoddard both the original and a copy of Lozano's letter. The detention officer sticks the original back in the file and pockets the copy.

Cuccia later tells New Times that the case prosecutor, Deputy County Attorney Linn, wanted to move forward with sentencing Lozano.

"[Linn] said to me, 'What do you want?' Cuccia recalls. "I asked her what she would have done if this had happened to her. She didn't appear to think it was that big of a deal."

Linn and the other prosecutors couldn't have missed seeing Stoddard dip into the defense file. But none had alerted the judge, who claimed later not to have seen Stoddard take the file.

Judge Flores finally agrees to postpone the sentencing until a later date.

After that, Cuccia retreats with a few colleagues to Flores' jury room to collect her thoughts.

"No law school class tells you what to do when a court officer starts going through your legal files as you are trying to argue your client's case," she says later. "I thought, 'People at a higher pay grade than me are going to be dealing with this.'"

The Office of the Legal Defender soon filed paperwork with the Superior Court to determine whether either of the two sheriff's officers should be held in contempt of court.

The pleading was assigned to Presiding Criminal Judge Donahoe, not Judge Flores, in whose courtroom the events occurred.

A few days after the incident, Deputy Legal Defender Maria Schaffer asked an investigator from her office, T.J. Horrall, to try to schedule an interview with the officers.

Later that day, Horrall, a retired 25-year police officer, sent a memo to Schaffer about what had happened at the courthouse.

Horrall said he was walking toward an elevator inside the Superior Court complex with sheriff's Sergeant G.T. Czapski when the following dialogue occurred:

"Czapski asked [me] if this was in reference to the Lozano matter. I replied that it was. He then told me that this was a very interesting matter and [that] he has done some research on it.

"He continued by saying that Ms. Cuccia was a very nice lady, but 'if I had a reason to arrest her for promoting prison contraband, I would.'

"I acknowledged his statement and replied that . . . if we have evidence of a theft [by Adam Stoddard], we will also pursue the matter. I believe that [Sergeant Czapski's] intention was a threat toward Ms. Cuccia."

The game was on.

Stoddard's supervisor, Deputy Chief Dave Trombi, said in a statement to the media, "As a matter of policy and procedure supported by case law, all documents and items passed from defense attorney to in-custody clients are searched for contraband. The recent arrest of a defense attorney for passing narcotics to his client while in court illustrates the importance of this procedure. MCSO personnel in this matter acted appropriately."

(Actually, Adam Stoddard had lifted a letter from a legal file that Lozano hadn't had access to in court that day.)

Joanne Cuccia says she was stunned when Chief Trombi linked her, by obvious innuendo, to a pair of local defense attorneys arrested in recent years for smuggling drugs (allegedly, in one pending case) and other contraband to clients who are members of the Mexican Mafia.

"It's so untrue. What more can I say?" Cuccia says. "I think I always have a reputation for being honest, and now this?"

Talk around the courthouse — a gossipmonger's paradise during the quietest of times — ran rampant:

Detention Officer Stoddard had grabbed a love letter from Antonio Lozano to Joanne Cuccia.

Cuccia was in cahoots with the Mexican Mafia.

There was so much more to this than anyone knew.

As for evidence, it eventually would come out.

Judge Donahoe announced at the beginning of the October 30 contempt hearing against Adam Stoddard and Francisco Campillo that he had reviewed Joanne Cuccia's file.

The judge said all the documents fell under attorney-client communications, including discussions of Lozano's plea bargain with Cuccia, mitigation issues, and personal correspondence between the two.

"I didn't see anything in there that dealt with, or even touched on, anything that would represent a security issue," Donahoe said, "either to the court, anyone involved in this process, or to the jail."

He explained further that he had in the past served as a "special master" when documents were seized from prison and jail cells and, "I just didn't see anything that would indicate coded messages . . . There was just nothing in here that would indicate any security threat."

Under oath, Detention Officer Stoddard said he first had walked behind Antonio Lozano in Judge Flores' court to provide more security. Stoddard said the defendant's violent, gang-ridden history made him a potential security problem.

Stoddard claimed that a "totality of the circumstances," after seeing the four handwritten words on the page sticking out of Cuccia's file, had compelled him to make a "split-second" decision to dig deeper.

The words (again, not in the same sentence) were "money," "steal," and "going to."

So what was the emergency? What was the immediate threat to the judge, the attorneys . . .  anyone, for that matter?

Stoddard did not see such words as "kill judge," "bomb," or "let's do it." And he made no move to get word to the judge, which would have been proper protocol had he seen such threatening language.

Maria Schaffer of the Legal Defender's Office asked Stoddard if he had seen Cuccia do anything inappropriate in court that day.

"To what extent do you mean?" Stoddard replied. He never did answer Schaffer's question.

When it was his turn, veteran Phoenix attorney Craig Mehrens, who volunteered his services to Joanne Cuccia at the hearing, asked Stoddard to list any other reasons for taking the papers.

"Inmate Lozano is a known associate and member of the Mexican Mafia," Stoddard said. "The organization is known to operate in and out of the jails. A lot of things."

Stoddard added that he believed the papers "could have been passed [from Lozano to Cuccia] and not searched."

In response to a question, the detention officer said he was fairly sure that the critical Lozano letter had been date-stamped as received at the Office of the Legal Defender before the hearing.

So how could Lozano have given the missive to Cuccia in the courtroom that day, not that there would have been anything illegal about it if he had?

During a bench conference out of the public's earshot, Deputy County Attorney Tom Liddy asked Judge Donahoe to close the courtroom for the next part of Stoddard's testimony.

Liddy said the detention officer would be testifying about how members of the Mexican Mafia "abuse legal communications," and he expressed concern that the public might infer that Joanne Cuccia "is involved in something that, at this point, there is no evidence she is involved in."

Craig Mehrens shot back: "They should have thought of that before they took what they took out of her file. Because they've already done what they've done to her reputation. [Liddy] comes up here in secret and says for the first time that she hasn't done anything wrong, and he's trying to protect her.

"Whenever they're on my side [referring to the County Attorney's Office]," Mehrens said archly, "I'm always worried. I know I'm in trouble."

Donahoe agreed to move everyone but the participants out of the courtroom, and Stoddard continued to testify. (The judge later unsealed this part of the hearing.)

The detention officer said he had followed procedure by removing documentation that might've shown evidence of a potential future crime.

A future crime?

Forget about any imminent threat to courtroom security: Stoddard admitted that he had decided to play detective with the legal system's most protected files — attorney-client documents.

"And not tell the person you took it from that you copied this. Is that procedure?" Craig Mehrens asked.

"She would have clearly been notified," Stoddard answered.

"When did you notify her?"

"I believe inmate Lozano notified her."

Lozano had, but only after he happened to notice what was going on behind him.

Mehrens asked Stoddard why he hadn't informed the judge before going into the legal file.

"In the middle of the proceeding, based on all the other things, I just didn't think," Stoddard replied, stumbling. "I saw those [four] words. I thought the documents were, more than likely, misconduct of some kind."

He said he later read his copy of the letter that Deputy Campillo had given him "and looked to find more key parts."

Mehrens asked, "When you read [the letter] in its entirety, did it validate your concerns that the document was either evidence of a future crime or an illegal communication from inside the jail to outside the jail?"

"No," the detention officer said, but he added that other unspecified statements in the letter had concerned him.

"My security concerns were knowing that inmate Lozano could be trying to solicit Ms. Cuccia to help him in some way, shape, or form in the misconduct of getting information."

"How?" Mehrens asked.

"By manipulation or coercion. It seemed that he was — I don't know if the proper word was 'fishing' — to [find out] whether he could use Ms. Cuccia as more than just a legal counsel."

"Do you have any evidence that he succeeded in putting her in a compromising position?" Mehrens asked.

"I don't," Adam Stoddard said.

The judge reopened the courtroom after the detention officer finished his testimony.

Deputy Campillo took the stand and said Stoddard had told him in Judge Flores' court about reading "something suspicious at the very bottom of the [Lozano] letter."

Campillo said he never read the letter and had no idea what it said. He confirmed that Joanne Cuccia had shown him her paperwork before meeting with Lozano in court and that he didn't recall any problems that day, before or after the incident.

During the last of the three contempt hearings, on November 10, Joanne Cuccia gave Judge Donahoe her version of the events in Judge Flores' court and the aftermath of those events.

Deputy County Attorney Liddy had no questions of her during cross-examination.

The attorneys then made their closing arguments.

Judge Donahoe announced that he was going to handle the case as civil, rather than criminal, contempt.

Criminal contempt is punitive, and civil is not. In the latter, a contempt violation may be "purged" by doing what the judge orders, such as catching up with child-support obligations or revealing confidential sources.

Judge Donahoe noted in court that he was faced with a slippery balancing act.

"I don't want to be unnecessarily hindering or preventing deputies from carrying out their duties in the courtroom," he said.

Mehrens asked the judge to fine both Stoddard and Campillo, and to order them to pay personally.

"If you do nothing," Mehrens said, "then you are saying to all of us, 'They can do it, can get away with it, and there's nothing I can do about it.'"

Liddy argued that "these two public servants had a good-faith basis to make all of the decisions they made that day. That's not to say they were all the correct decisions . . . It is not the position of the sheriff that [taking defense attorney files is] the correct thing to do."

(Liddy's concession would be lost in the hearing's aftermath, when the public relations effort by Joe Arpaio and Liddy himself focused on portraying Adam Stoddard as an example of top-notch proactive law enforcement.)

Mehrens spoke last.

The courtroom incident, he said, showed "a belief by [Stoddard] and the people he works for that they can do anything they want, outside the courtroom and inside the courtroom."

Judge Donahoe issued his seven-page ruling a week after the contempt hearing ended.

"It is clear from the evidence," he wrote in his very first sentence, "that Ms. Cuccia did nothing wrong. She was appointed to represent a defendant in a criminal proceeding, and she did her job . . . Ms. Cuccia is a dedicated attorney, and there is no evidence that she engaged in any misconduct. Any news release or media report to the contrary is false."

The judge next discussed the "competing interests" he had weighed.

One interest is to guarantee that court security personnel remain willing and able to respond to "legitimate" security threats. Another is to ensure "that the dignity of court proceedings is not diminished."

Donahoe concluded that "no attorney — either state's counsel or defense counsel — should have to be worried that a file left momentarily unattended on counsel's table in a courtroom will be searched and documents seized" without a judge's permission.

Nor, he said strongly, should an attorney "have to be concerned that while they are in the courthouse, unreasonable and unlawful conduct of court security personnel will cause damage to counsel's professional reputation or result in a breach of the attorney-client privilege."

Yet the judge decided that Deputy Campillo should not be held in contempt of court because "he was asked by his colleague to copy the documents, and he did that."

Detention officer Stoddard, however, was another story.

"There was no security threat justifying the seizure of the document from counsel's file," Donahoe wrote. "Nor was there evidence that a crime was being committed or about to be committed."

Because the judge was treating the case as civil, not criminal contempt, he had to consider what remedy would purge his order, rather than just fine the officer and be done with it.

That's when Donahoe came up with ordering Adam Stoddard to apologize to Joanne Cuccia in the most public way imaginable.

That never happened.

Lieutenant Jimmie Barrett Jr. has been court supervisor for the Arlington, Virginia Sheriff's Office since 2000. He is the author of Protecting Court, a bible for many in the business of courthouse security.

Barrett tells New Times that he has seen the video of Adam Stoddard taking the legal files in court.

"We have to balance a lot of things," he says of providing security at the courthouse. "We want and need prosecutors and defense attorneys to feel safe with us, and to trust us to do the right thing at all times."

Barrett declines to address "what happens in a different jurisdiction" but is happy to speak about his own.

"If we or other court staff see something suspect in court, we can speak to the judge at the bench," he says.

"We all have bad apples in our professions — human frailties and all that. I know of court security and bailiffs who have been arrested for smuggling stuff to defendants. It's not just defense lawyers."

Perhaps unwittingly, Barrett gets to the root of what happened in Lisa Flores' courtroom on October 19.

"A lot of what happens security-wise in a courthouse can depend on the cultural dynamics of the particular Sheriff's Office," he says. "A lot."

At this point at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, this includes a visceral disrespect for the judiciary, starting, of course, with Joe Arpaio.

In July, for instance, Judge Donahoe held Deputy Chief Dave Trombi in civil contempt and fined him more than $10,000, ruling that Trombi intentionally violated court orders to assign an adequate number of deputies to the courthouse. (Chief Trombi's appeal has yet to be decided.)

Instead of apologizing to the judge or saying nothing at all, Trombi told the Arizona Republic, "Clearly, Donahoe, [presiding judge Barbara] Mundell, and a few of the other prima donnas up there have a political agenda, and they want to use the sheriff as a whipping boy on this."

Trombi suggested that the judges are uniformly opposed to the sheriff's highly publicized anti-illegal immigration policies and are acting accordingly in their rulings.

Maybe it should have come as no surprise then that Adam Stoddard felt empowered enough to stick his hand into a privileged legal file.

As for Joanne Cuccia, she has returned to her daily grind of representing indigent criminal defendants (she's off the Lozano case) in Superior Court.

But she says she notices the stares of deputies and detention officers as she goes about her business — and doesn't like it.

Tom Liddy held a press conference with Adam Stoddard shortly after the Court of Appeals granted a stay in the contempt sentence a few weeks ago.

Stoddard looked none the worse for wear after his "incarceration," seeming comfortable in the spotlight.

Someone asked Liddy about Cuccia's reputation and about how the whole affair with her legal files may have tarnished it.

The deputy county attorney danced around at first but could not help himself:

"There was evidence of a very serious security breach [with the Lozano letter]," he said, without specifying what it was.

And, yes, Liddy warned, Andrew Thomas' office will be examining Joanne Cuccia's reputation — before and after the incident in Judge Flores' court.

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