Judge Baca, keepin' the Sheriff in line: You go, girl!
Poor Sheriff Joe. He claims he's running out of money, and has to cut corners all over the place, though he still finds the moolah to chase illegal immigrants no matter what. Now Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Anna Baca has bitchslapped our decrepit Sheriff and ordered him to get together with the public defender's office and revamp his recently-restricted jail visitation policy.
See, the Sheriff's office announced a miserly new jail visitation policy in November, cutting back the hours for visits to 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This in hopes of reducing the deficit caused by a $1 million overrun in overtime spending. (Math was never Joe's strong suit.) But now lawyers, psychs, probation officers, etc. don't have enough time to visit prisoners. Not that the MCSO gives a rat's ass for the right to counsel, or the fact most folks in the Sheriff's custody have only been accused, not convicted, of crimes.
To her credit, Baca found that,
The court finds that the new schedule for privileged visits at the MCSO facilities impairs the in-custody defendants’ constitutional right to counsel. The new schedule was not implemented because of any MCSO need to safeguard jail security, but because of its budget problems, resulting in eliminating detention officer assignments on shift 2 privileged visits. Further, the new schedule’s negative impact on the ability of CITS interpreters, APD employees and mental health examiners to meet with the defendants results in delays and impairs the right of access to the courts. The MCSO changes in privileged visit hours, taken to resolve its budget issues, are not an allowable basis for the result which impairs in-custody defendants’ constitutional right to counsel and access to the courts.
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The ruling, which you can read in its entirety, here, instructs the parties involved to mediate and hammer out an agreement within 30 days. In the meantime, Baca's ordered that the MCSO extend the hours of "privileged visitation" till "at least until 9:00 p.m. daily."
The ruling doesn't say anything about regular visits by family and friends of the accused. Rather, it covers court personnel, interpreters, lawyers, etc. You know, all the people who keep the freakin' judicial system humming. But hopefully, if deputies have to keep the jail open for court functionaries and legal beagles, they can keep it open for the rest of us.
Wonder if this means Joe will have to cut back on his Pruitt's patrol this Saturday? Crikey, Joe may actually have to start doing his job for a change! Can you imagine?
Joe's the jailer and the process server of this county. And he's supposed to protect the unincorporated areas, and cities that contract with him. Right now, he's doing all that badly, if at all. Call the residents of Aguila if you doubt me.