Just hours ago, the City of Phoenix, the Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office and the State of Arizona dismissed almost two dozen cases against Occupy Phoenix protesters.
In applying for the dismissals, which were granted without objection by the judge this morning, a number of statements were made by the prosecutor that indicate an unusual and unprecedented showing of tolerance toward political demonstrators and political demonstrations. The state’s application included the following statements:
“[T]he State has no intention of limiting anyone’s constitutional rights.”
“This country was founded on protest.”
“Protest is part of the fabric of our nation.”
“[J]ustice was served by dismissal of the charge(s) . . .”
The application went on to mention Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and the Boston Tea Party, which crystalized protests in Colonial America against British laws that amounted to taxation without representation.
As one of the core of private defense attorneys who volunteered to represent the protestors free of charge, this Phoenix criminal lawyer applauds not only the result in the case, but the actions of the prosecutor’s office, which showed solidarity with all of us who actively participated in representing the protestors.
We also shouldn’t forget about the dozens of people who pled guilty to charges – people who were punished for the same thing The Phoenix 20 were exonerated from. Several of the 20 protestors are unhappy with the wording of the State’s motion, as it specifically mentions limitations to protesting on public property after certain hours.
Yesterday, a three-person Hearing Panel appointed at the direction of the Supreme Court of Arizona ordered former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas disbarred. Thomas faced 33 charges, from dishonesty to conflict of interest, alleging that he misused his prosecutorial powers for political purposes. Most of the charges were upheld by the Panel by clear and convincing evidence. An appeal of the decision is likely.
The 247-page opinion details trumped up charges, clandestine meetings, conflicts of interest and overall disregard by Thomas of his obligations as County Attorney. Central to the findings was the conclusion that Thomas used his office to attempt to hurt his political enemies. A prime example includes the filing of a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) complaint against officials when Thomas was told by experts in the field that there was no merit to the claim. Another involves the filing of a criminal case against then-Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, alleging that Donahoe was guilty of bribery, and that the complaint was filed after the judge held that the County Attorney’s Office (headed by Thomas) was disqualified from investigating construction of a court building.
More Will Be Revealed . . .
A reading of the opinion issued yesterday reveals that much of the goings on at the County Attorney’s Office also involved officers from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, including Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Various media sources have described Thomas as Arpaio’s hand-picked lawyer, and one source described Thomas’ six-year tenure as County Attorney as a “legal rampage” by Thomas and Arpaio against their political enemies. While yesterday’s opinion has no official consequence for Arpaio, this Phoenix criminal lawyer believes there will be further fallout directed at the Sheriff’s Office. For example, we reported in December the details concerning a United States Justice Department investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
We are not in a position to project the results of appeals and continuing investigations – however, we do believe that while yesterday’s opinion may bring to an end to a sordid chapter of Phoenix politics, the end of the book has yet to be written.
In this video, Phoenix lawyer David A. Black discusses arraignments in the context of criminal law; specficially addressed are the broad questions of What is an Arraignment? What happens at an Arraignment? And are there differences between felony and misdemeanor Arraignments. As always, viewers are encouraged to visit Phoenix Criminal Lawyer for more information, or to call (480) 280-8028 and/or visit the the physical location of the office at 40 North Central Avenue, Suite 1400, Phoenix, Arizona, 85004. Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!
Did you ever wonder what the facts really are about underage drinking in Arizona? The following statistics may interest you. It is reported that when asked, over 28% of the population between the ages of 12 and 20 admitted to consuming alcohol over the prior month; and that 18% of the same population says they binged on alcohol during the previous month. For the 18 to 20 year old group, over 50% said they consumed alcohol within the past 30 days; surprisingly, over 32% said they binged on alcohol during the same period.
Both the consumption of alcohol by underage drinkers, and the traffic deaths and other tragedies resulting from it, take place within a legal system that has passed numerous laws in an attempt to prevent it. The following are just a few of the many laws governing alcohol consumption by minors:
Underage consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Underage possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Underage purchase of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Using false identification to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense.
Penalties for the minor violating these laws include loss of driving privileges. New laws and regulations will continue to be written, for example the new Tempe ordinance concerning social host liability and underage drinking reported in our December 20, 2011 blog.
The problem is not a new one, and we believe more needs to be done, particularly in the area of education, to inform youngsters of the dangers they face and the dangers and risks to others not only by underage drinking, but by alcohol abuse in general.
If your son or daughter has been charged with underage drinking, contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer to help see you and your child through this difficult time.
We hear about crime all over the news on a regular basis. When it comes to street crime, the media seems to be in a constant frenzy. But what are the real statistics in Phoenix?
According to a recent report, the December arrest numbers for street crimes shows some interesting results. The specifics are as follows:
Simple Assault 709
Aggravated Assault 313
Drug Related Crimes 463
Sexual Assault 42
Just over 70% of the reported arrests were for theft-related crimes, that is, theft, burglary and robbery. About 20% were for assaults (simple and aggravated), and drug-related offenses captured over 9% of the total.
Looking at the figures as a whole, coupled with what we know about the rise of drug use in Arizona and throughout the United States, one wonders whether drug abuse is the real culprit here. We all know that those addicted to drugs have to support their habit somehow, and the street theft crimes shown above are informative. One could come to the conclusion that a huge percentage of all the street crime arrests is the result, directly or indirectly, of drug addiction.
This conclusion is supported by figures that have been around for years. For example, it has been reported that more than half the people arrested in the United States test positive for illegal drugs. Moreover, 25% to 30% of state and federal inmates say that they were under the influence of drugs when committing violent offenses, and 10% to 36% state that they were under the influence when committing property crimes.
Whether or not you agree with the figures, one thing is clear: Drug abuse is a major contributing factor to street crime. The debate continues (see our December 28 blog) on the relative benefits of harsher sentencing laws versus rehabilitation as it relates to a reduction in the crime rate.
If you have been charged with a street crime in the Greater Phoenix area, contact an experienced Crimina Defense Attorney today.
Are you curious as to the status of Arizona’s new immigration law? This month the United States Supreme Court, in Arizona v. United States, agreed to review a successful challenge to a number of the provisions of Arizona’s 2010 tough immigration statutes. At issue are several provisions of the controversial law, including a provision requiring police officers to detain anyone they “reasonable suspect” is illegally in the United States.
In July 2010, just one day before the law was to go into effect, Judge Susan Bolton of the Federal District Court issued an injunction, blocking certain of the provisions of the statute. In April 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the request of the State of Arizona to overturn the injunction. Earlier this month the United States Supreme Court granted the state’s request for further review of the ruling. We expect the case to be heard in the spring.
A central issue involves the process by which a police officer comes to “suspect” that an individual is an illegal immigrant. An Arizona Republic article reports allegations by critics that “reasonable suspicion” of illegal residency amounts to no more than physical appearance or speaking with a foreign accent. Interestingly, the Ninth Circuit decision voided the provisions of the statute based upon the fact that they were preempted by federal law, and therefore violated the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to the political impact of the decision, it will no doubt have an effect upon all those who are subject to traffic and other stops in Arizona. If you have been charged with a crime, including charges emanating from a traffic stop, contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney today.
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