Tom Liddy, the son of notorious Watergate criminal G. Gordon Liddy, stole some of the spotlight today during the opening day of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's racial-profiling trial.
He's a deputy county attorney who represents Maricopa County in this case, not to be confused with the much taller Tim Casey, the private attorney representing Arpaio's office. Liddy a former Congressional candidate and a bit of showman, wearing orange reading glasses and choosing not to stand at a podium but instead strutting before witness Ralph Taylor holding a mic in his hand like he's hosting a talk show.
While cross-examining Taylor, a Temple University professor who testified that a statistical analysis proves discrimination by sheriff's deputies, Liddy was halted by sustained objections twice due to his argumentative style, at one point drawing a gentle criticism from U.S. District Judge Murray Snow that his question was rambling.
Liddy brought Taylor's mumbo-jumbo into layman's territory, though, at times seeming to insist that his less-academic take on the statistics be considered. For instance, Liddy suggested that Taylor's study showed traffic stops of Hispanics might take longer because a driver spoke Spanish, or had no driver's license, yet getting Taylor to admit his study hadn't taken that into account. Taylor had an explanation for the way he crunched the data that probably makes sense to statisticians, but Liddy countered with style over substance -- probably because you'd have to be a scientist to fully appreciate Taylor's world of "internal and external benchmarking" and other stat-jargon. Of course, it's unknown what Snow, both judge and jury in this case, thought of Liddy's alternative interpretations.
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Liddy was a minor-league legal celebrity before the start of this high-profile trial. Besides being famous for his felonious dad, Liddy is a former Congressional candidate. He's played bit parts in the county drama of the last few years, showing up as the lawyer for Adam Stoddard, the detention officer who swiped legal papers from a defense attorney during a trial, and also as the "deep throat" source who tipped off County Supervisor Andy Kunasek to a nefarious plot by Sheriff Arpaio's office to take over county leadership.
Most recently, Liddy made headlines of a more negative stripe, after being named in a federal lawsuit filed by former deputy county attorney Maria Brandon, who claims she became a victim of retaliation because she defended Arpaio too aggressively in court cases that had been assigned to her. In her lawsuit, filed in April, Liddy's described as a bombastic turncoat who ultimately fired her.
As Liddy defended the county in one federal courtroom today, the judge in another decided that Liddy would remain as a defendant in the Brandon case. U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone today tossed out counts against Liddy including slander, but stated in his ruling that other counts against the prosecutor, such as deprivation of interest in employment, will remain. In other words, he's not quite off the hook on that one.
If he seemed a little on edge today in the courtroom, it may not have been just because he's defending the indefensible.