http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/282339

Arizona deputy found in contempt for removing documents

Posted Nov 18, 2009 by B. Thomas Cooper
A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy caught on camera removing documents from a courtroom has been found in contempt of court by a Superior Court judge.
Sign at Tent City
Sign at entrance of Tent City in Downtown Phoenix.
B. Thomas Cooper
The ruling came Wednesday morning as Judge Donahoe concluded officer Adam Stoddard of the Sheriff’s Dept. was in contempt when he removed the two hand-written documents from a file belonging to attorney Joanne Cuccia. Cuccia was representing a defendant at a sentencing hearing at the time.
It is only the latest scandal to blemish controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department. Arpaio, who bills himself as America’s toughest Sheriff, has found himself at the center of countless disputes in recent months. Arpaio has defended Stoddard’s actions.
This latest incident unfolded when officer Stoddard was spotted by defendant Antonio Lozano removing the documents from the file. Lozano quickly notified his attorney, who in turn, brought it to the attention of Judge Donahoe. Officer Stoddard had maintained he removed the documents because he believed Lozano posed a security threat.
Donahoe disagreed with the Sheriff's Department, concluding Stoddard acted unreasonably by removing the documents. The Superior Court judge has given Officer Stoddard until November 30th to publicly apologize to Cuccia and Lozano, or report to jail on December 1st.