Jan 18, 2013
AACJ Award Recipients Honored
Congratulations to the AACJ award recipients honored at the annual AACJ Awards Luncheon held on January 12, 2013! Awards were presented to the following:
Michael Terribile was awarded the Vanguard Leadership Award:
Variously described as tenacious, cantankerous and/or obstinate, nobody has ever questioned Michael Terribile's integrity and commitment to the ideals of justice and the right to indigent defense. Mike's efforts through the years have paid off and are largely responsible for the implementation of quality control committees for contract indigent defense counsel in Maricopa County, a long overdue development and a major step towards insuring quality criminal defense representation for all defendants, regardless of their ability to pay for it. Thank you, Michael Terribile.
Rebecca A. McLean was awarded the John J. Flynn Lifetime Achievement Award:
In recognition of your thirty years of service in the Pima County Public Defender's Office and your successful representation of many capital defendants at trial and on appeal, AACJ gives you its highest honor. You have braved the difficult losses that go with indigent defense in order to achieve great victories for countless clients accused of all offenses. Your appellate victories have changed the practice of law in Arizona. You have mentored a generation of trial and appellate lawyers in Pima County who under your leadership have ensured that justice will continue to emerge in the criminal courts.
Professor Robert D. Bartels was awarded the Jack Williams Appellate Achievement Award:
Professor Robert D. Bartels' commitment to the principles of justice and expanding the individual right to counsel reached new heights this year when he successfully argued the now seminal case of Martinez v. Ryan, firmly establishing for the first time the right of effective assistance of counsel on post conviction relief. Thank you, Professor Bartels.
John A. Canby was honored for his service as AACJ's president in 2012:
In appreciation for your calm leadership and unwavering belief that AACJ can positively impact the criminal justice system in Arizona. Throughout this year you held us all to that vision while balancing your court cases and your role as president. And you did it all without losing your sense of humor! A job well done, John!
David J. Euchner was recognized with a Presidential Commendation:
David's tireless commitment to AACJ is unique and unwavering. As coordinator of AACJ's Amicus Task Force, David consistently does the hard work necessary to keep AACJ on top of, and in the forefront of, developing legal issues in Arizona and nationwide. Dave's work is always recognizable by its excellence. Thank you, David Euchner.
Dec 10, 2012
Arizona Forensic Science Academy
The Arizona Attorney General's Office Forensic Science Advisory Committee is pleased to announce the next class of the Arizona Forensic Science Academy. This interactive and innovative seminar allows prosecutors and defense attorneys to learn about the scientific issues which are presented in your cases. The sessions will include lectures and lab tours including hands-on exercises.
The seminar will meet every other Friday, beginning
January 25, - May 17, 2013 for a total of 9 weeks, from 1:00 - 4:15 p.m. at the
Maricopa County Forensic Science Center located
at 701 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ 85007. Classes will be held in the
Click here for application. Applications must be submitted electronically to ForSci@ag.gov by December 12, 2012.
Topics will include:
Scientific introduction and evaluation of the following forensic disciplines: Crime Scene Processing, DNA, Controlled Substances, Toxicology, Latent Prints, Firearms, Arson, Trace, and Questioned Documents
Death Investigation and "How to Dissect an Autopsy Report"
Digital Forensics: Computer, Cell phone, audio, and video analysis
The National Academies of Science Report on Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States
Tours (in person/virtual) will be provided of the following facilities: Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab, the Maricopa County Forensic Science Center, and the Arizona Computer Forensics Lab
The cost for the course is $300.00, and includes all course materials. The seminar may qualify for up to 27 hours of CLE credit. All interested attorneys are invited to apply, but lectures are targeted for those who have 0-7 years of experience and will be conducting felony jury trials.
You will be notified whether you have been accepted for the course by December 17, 2012.
Apr 10, 2012
Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas Stripped of Law License Today
On April 27, 2011, AACJ filed a bar complaint against Andrew Thomas, former Maricopa County attorney. AACJ brought this complaint at the direction of its Board of Governors on behalf of its members, the members of the Board and its officers, in discharge of a lawyer's obligation under Ethical Rule 8.3, Rule 43 of the Supreme Court of Arizona, to report to the Bar conduct of a lawyer which raises substantial question as to his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer. To read the full complaint, click here.
Today, Andrew Thomas and his onetime deputy, Lisa Aubuchon, were stripped of their law licenses as a disciplinary panel handed down the toughest sanctions possible for ethical violations in a case that attracted national interest.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/2012/04/10/20120410thomas-aubuchon-stripped-their-legal-licenses.html#ixzz1rezcY7nH
To read the order, click here
Jan 11, 2012
Article debunks APAAC's Prison Population Report 2010
The major findings of the APAAC 2010 report, "Prisoners in Arizona, A Profile of the Inmate Population" are overstated and, in some cases, outright incorrect. In addition to the obvious bias of the organization that commissioned the research, the report has numerous methodological flaws that make its conclusions deeply suspect. Yet, APAAC and numerous high-profile prosecutors have portrayed the report as providing definitive empirical data regarding the risk level of inmates in Arizona prisons. To read our article, debunking this report, click here: "THROWING AWAY THE KEY: Debunking APAAC's 2010 Report on Arizona's Prison Population"
Jan 10, 2012
The Defender, Winter 2012
To view AACJ's quarterly magazine, The Defender, click here: The Defender, Winter 2012
May 20, 2011
AACJ Supports State Adoption of Federal Evidence Rules
Today AACJ filed a comment in support of the changes to Rules 702 and 801(d)(1)(A), Arizona Rules of Evidence to conform to the Federal Rules of Evidence and to implement a conforming change to Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.4(f). The change to Rule 702 would go a long way to eliminating junk expert testimony in the State courts by adopting the federal Daubert standard and discarding the obsolete Frye standard currently in use. The adoption of the federal version of Rule 801(d)(1)(A) would prevent the use of prior inconsistent statements as substantive (as distinct from impeaching) evidence unless they were taken under oath in a proceeding or deposition. The comment is available here.
Feb 16, 2011
AACJ member wins 404(b) case at AZ Supreme Court
AACJ member Edie Cunningham, a Federal Public Defender in Tucson, wrote and argued the winning brief in a 404(b) case decided by the Arizona Supreme Court today.
State v. Machado, No. CR-10-0242-PR (Ariz. Feb. 15, 2011) (Hurwitz, J.)
--- The Arizona Supreme Court today held that Rule 404(b) of the Arizona Rules of Evidence (which is substantially similar to its federal counterpart, on which it was modeled) does not govern the admissibility of evidence that tends to show that a person other than the defendant committed the charged crime. Although Rule 404(b), like its federal counterpart, speaks of "persons" against whom other-bad-acts evidence is proffered, the "central purpose" of the rule is to "protect criminal defendants from unfair use of propensity evidence." In view of that purpose, interpreting Rule 404(b) to "exclude highly probative evidence that someone other than the defendant committed the crime" would give rise to due process concerns. See Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284 (1973).
Here, the court affirmed the Arizona Court of Appeals's conclusion that statements reflecting the propensity for violence of the police's original suspect in this case, not the defendant, was wrongly excluded by the trial court. The Arizona Supreme Court therefore reversed the defendant's conviction and remanded for a new trial.
Feb 15, 2011
High Cost of Prison Privatization in Arizona
In a press conference held at the State Capitol, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) states private, for-profit prisons are more expensive, less safe and less accountable to taxpayers. In spite of the obvious failure of prison privatization in Arizona, state leaders are poised to award multi-million dollar contracts for 5,000 new private prison beds. AFSC calls on the Arizona Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer to immediately halt this irresponsible course of action.
For further information about AFSC's findings, click here.
Feb 06, 2011
Electronic Frontier Foundation Reports Extensive FBI Intelligence Abuse
As Congress scrambles to extend the Patriot Act for another year before some of its provisions expire late this month, it would do well to to remember this axiom: any power given to a law enforcement agency will be abused. At least it so seems.
A report issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, based on the release by the FBI of 2500 pages of reports made to the Intelligence Oversight Board, claims that the FBI may have committed as many as 40,000 violations of laws, Executive Orders or other regulations during intelligence investigations from 2001 through 2008. The heavily redacted records were produced pursuant to court order in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the Foundation.
The Foundation's estimates are based on extrapolation from the records the FBI produced to the Board, from reports by the Office of Inspector General and other sources. Of the violations reported to the Board, more than a third involved rules relating to oversight of intelligence investigations, nearly a third involved abuse, misuse or careless use of National Security Letters (warrantless document demands) and nearly twenty percent involved violations of the Constitution, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other laws governing criminal investigations or intelligence-gathering activities. Other violations included submitting false or inaccurate declarations to courts, using improper evidence to obtain grand jury subpoenas and accessing password-protected documents without a warrant.
A discussion of the Foundation's findings and methodology, as well as the Report itself, may be found here on its website.
Feb 01, 2011
New study finds that a fiscally conservative sentencing policy for non-violent offenders would enable Arizona to save millions annually without endangering public safety
Turning the Corner: Opportunities for Effective Sentencing and Correctional Practices in Arizona, a study commissioned by AACJ, looked at independent research data as well as reforms enacted in other states, including Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. These states, which formerly had sentencing laws similar to those now in effect in Arizona, enacted fiscally responsible sentencing reforms between 1999 and 2010. States saw reductions in prison populations while violent and other crime rates fell significantly. Similar changes in Arizona could lead to a 50% reduction in the incarceration rate for non-violent offenders and save hundreds of millions of dollars.
Support for this change in sentencing philosophy is gaining wide-spread support from many conservatives, including Newt Gingrich and Pat Nolan who recently wrote the following on behalf of RightonCrime.Com: "We urge conservative legislators to lead the way in addressing an issue often considered off-limits to reform: prisons. Several states have recently shown that they can save on costs without compromising public safety by intelligently reducing their prison populations." Opinions Page, Washington Post, January 7, 2011
Reforms proven to produce these results include reducing or eliminating mandatory sentences for some non-violent crimes, increasing the use of treatment programs for drug addiction and mental health, creating work and training incentives to earn "merit time" to reduce prison sentences for certain non-violent crimes, and developing programs to reduce the risk of recidivism for persons on probation and parole.
"Arizona's taxpayers want proven criminal justice policies based on facts, not ideology" says AACJ representative David Derickson, an attorney and former presiding criminal judge for Maricopa County. "This study and others like it show that we can reduce our prison population without compromising public safety."
The report substantiates the findings of reports released by Arizona's Office of the Auditor General, which reports to Arizona's Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The overwhelming evidence in favor of sentencing reforms and growing public support for such measures signals a potential legislative opportunity this session, as lawmakers grapple with tough choices in addressing the state's financial woes. The Arizona Department of Corrections budget has grown to close to a billion dollars, consuming a significant portion of the state's general fund, while education and health care budgets are facing crippling cuts.
Click here to read the full report: Turning the Corner: Opportunities for Effective Sentencing and Correctional Practices in Arizona
Jan 05, 2011
Recent Reports on Sentencing and Prison Growth in ArizonaReport on Prison Population Growth in Arizona - Arizona Auditor General - September 2010
Sentencing in Arizona: Recommendations to Reduce Costs and Crime - Associate Professor Carissa Hessick and seven Law Students from ASU Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law - December, 2010 www.law.asu.edu/incubator/SentencingInArizona
Dec 10, 2010
ACTION ALERT: Proposed Revisions to the Criminal Jury Instructions
The State Bar Criminal Jury Instructions Committee has completed revisions to the Criminal Jury Instructions and will be seeking approval of the instructions from the State Bar Board of Governors. The revisions include new and revised instructions based on legislation passed during the last Arizona legislative session and as a result of suggestions from lawyers and judicial officers. Click here to see the revisions and the current version for comparison. Your input is important and if you wish to comment, please do so no later than February 4, 2011, to Kathleen.Lundgren@staff.azbar.org.
Dec 06, 2010
Bar P.C. Panelist Authorizes Formal Charges Against Thomas, Aubuchon, Alexander
The Probable Cause Panelist of the Arizona State Bar cleared the way today for filing of formal disciplinary charges against former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Deputy County Attorneys Lisa Aubichon and Rachael Alexander. Retired Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Charles E. Jones, who had been appointed in March by the Supreme Court to serve as Probable Cause Panelist in the State Bar's investigation of ethical complaints leveled against Thomas and his deputies, issued orders in each of three cases. As against Thomas and Aubuchon Jones found:
Ethical violations by Respondent, as described by Independent Bar Counsel, are far-reaching and numerous. Evidence thus far adduced portrays a reckless, four-year campaign of corruption and power abuse by Respondent as a public official, undertaken at enormous, and mostly wasteful cost to the taxpayers. Motivation for much of the alleged impropriety appears retaliatory, intended to so personal harm to the reputaions of Judges, County Supervisors, and other county officials. Actions by Respondent appear intent on intimidation, focused on political gain, and appear fully disconnected from professional and prosecutorial standards long associated with the administration of justice, particularly criminal justice.
Jones's finding as to Alexander, whose conduct covered a much shorter period of time, omitted the second sentence of the quoted portion and the reference to County Supervisors.
Ethical violations advanced by Bar Counsel against Thomas and Aubuchon and approved for filing by Jones include conflicts of interest, harassment of Judges, Supervisors and others, lying to the courts, acting from personal animus toward Judges, Supervisors and outside counsel appointed by the Board of Supervisors, abuse of process in filing a federal racketeering case, and abuse of process and grand jury practice in state criminal proceedings. To these Jones added failure to cooperate with Bar Counsel in his investigation of their conduct, a separate violation.
Jones's findings were made on the basis of a nearly 100-page report submitted by Bar Counsel. A Summary of Ethical Violations contained in that report are among the allegations made in a 28-page bar complaint filed by AACJ against Thomas on April 26, 2010. AACJ's complaint tracked Thomas's nefarious activities over a four-year period and made clear that Aubuchon served as his hatchetwoman throughout that time. After Thomas resigned to run for State Attorney General, interim County Attorney Rick Romley fired Aubuchon. In that proceeding Aubuchon attempted to assert a Nuremberg defense.
Under the Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court relating to lawyer discipline, Bar Counsel must first present ethical allegations to a Probable Cause Panelist for review. If approved, a formal bar complaint is filed by Bar Counsel and an adversary proceeding ensues.
Bar Counsel is recommending that Thomas and Aubuchon be disbarred.
Nov 22, 2010
Yavapai Judge Named to Supreme Court
Governor Jan Brewer has named Judge Robert Brutinel of the Yavapai County Superior Court to the Arizona Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice Michael Ryan. Brutinel is a Republican and reportedly conservative in outlook. Also on the short list were Court of Appeals Judges Ann Scott Timmer and Diane Johnsen.
Nov 10, 2010
Thomas's Staff Warned About Flakey Cases Against Supervisors, Judges
The Arizona Republic reported today that experienced staff attorneys working for former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas warned him and Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon that cases they wanted to file against members of the Board of Supervisors and certain judges were not supported by evidence. Thomas and Aubuchon rejected the advice of senior staffers and the office's expert on racketeering law and filed a patently frivolous criminal complaint against Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe and a civil racketeering case, also frivolous, in federal court against all members of the Board of Supervisors, Donahoe, three other judges and two private attorneys. Both cases were ultimately dismissed.
Thomas resigned from office to run for election as Arizona Attorney General but lost in the Republican primary. Aubuchon was suspended and ultimately fired from the County Attorney's office after his departure.
Oct 22, 2010
The Defender, Fall 2010
To view AACJ's quarterly magazine, The Defender, click here: The Defender, Fall 2010
Oct 08, 2010
Court Cites AACJ Amicus Brief in SB 1070 Challenge
U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton today issued an order in Friendly House v. Whiting that will allow the second case challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, to proceed on the merits. This case was brought by the ACLU, various immigrant advocacy groups and named individuals. Today's order dealt with Defendants' motions to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and plaintiffs' request for preliminary injunction. AACJ had submitted an amicus brief in the case with respect to the Fourth Amendment problems created by the law. Judge Bolton specifically referred to the brief and devoted three pages of her 38 page order to a favorable discussion of our argument.
Judge Bolton had previously preliminarily enjoined enforcement of the most significant provisions of the law in United States v. Arizona, the case brought by the Department of Justice challenging the statutory scheme. While that order did not mention AACJ by name it did refer to the argument made in our brief in this case. Arizona has appealed that order to the Ninth Circuit.
While today's order dismissed a few relatively minor claims for lack of standing of individual (as distinct from organizational) plaintiffs and failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, the major claims on Equal Protection, First and Fourth Amendment grounds will go forward. The court held that since enforcement of the law was already enjoined the request for preliminary injunction was moot and therefore denied. The judge intimated that if the injunction were not already in place, AACJ's argument that SB 1070 would inevitably turn investigatory stops into warrantless arrests without probable cause would likely prevail. At the time AACJ's brief was filed no injunction was in place.
Today's order in Friendly House is available here in PDF format. AACJ's amicus brief is here. The order in USA v. Arizona is available here. Our thanks go to our intrepid Amicus team, AACJ members David Euchner, Louis Fidel, Matt Green and Adam Blier, and also to Andrea Montevon-McKillip for the excellent work they did on this important issue.
Sep 23, 2010
Prosecutorial Misconduct Series Begins on USA Today
USA Today has begun a series on prosecutorial misconduct in the federal system. Two hundred cases of prosecutorial misconduct were selected by a panel of experts including defense attorneys, law professors and former prosecutors from among hundreds in which courts threw out convictions or publicly rebuked prosecutors. The information gathered and reported in the series may be a valuable research resource. It is available here.
A database of summaries of the 200 selected cases has also been published. Six of the cases originated in Arizona and date back to 1996. Two of these resulted in substantial payouts by the Justice Department under the Hyde Amendment for bringing frivolous and vexatious prosecutions.
Sep 23, 2010
Thomas Aide Lisa Aubuchon Fired
Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas's chief hatchet woman Lisa Aubuchon has finally been fired by Interim County Attorney Rick Romley after a lengthy investigation of her conduct. Aubuchon was a protected "merit" system employee who could only be fired for cause. She has been on paid administrative leave since April.
Many of the allegations against Aubuchon appear in the Bar complaint which AACJ filed against Thomas last April. Aubuchon had previously filed a notice of claim with the County demanding $10 million for wrongful termination, saying that the County had smeared her reputation and destroyed her career.
Last Friday the Arizona Republic reported that Aubuchon had been sent a pre-termination letter as part of the administrative process. Aubuchon's remarkable response to the pre-termination letter is here. Today's report in the Republic details her firing.
For previous News articles on Thomas's and Aubuchon's activities see the entries for August 20, August 13 and April 27, 2010 and December 23, 2009, below.
Sep 20, 2010
Missouri Sentencing Commission Informs Judges, Lawyers of Costs of Sentences
The Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission has implemented an automated web application that provides information to judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and probation officers on the costs associated with each available sentence in a case. The system, based on sentencing statistics taken from past cases, also calculates risk of recidivism by offense type and the amount of time an offender is likely to serve for the offense.
Users log into the system and enter information about the offender and the offense and are provided a detailed report showing data relating to the offense, including prior criminal history level, the Commission-recommended sentence, the risk assessment, the expected time served, the rate of recidivism after two years and the costs of incarceration and supervision.
The Commission's newsletter describing the system and a sample report are available here. As we might expect, prosecutors object to the inclusion of sentence cost data.
Aug 20, 2010
Out-of-state lawyer investigating Thomas probe says he was shadowed
Aug 17, 2010
Arizona Leads Nation in Federal Prosecutions
More federal criminal cases are filed in Arizona than in any other federal district in the nation, according to Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). Though Arizona has only 2% of the country's population, 19% of all federal prosecutions in the first 8 months of the fiscal year (October through May), a total of 20,818 cases, were filed here. This is up from 11% in the last years of the Bush Administration, and up from 7% in 2005. The number of Assistant U.S. Attorneys is up from 111 to 151 over the five-year period.
The increase in prosecutions is mostly attributable to the immigration caseload, which comprises 84.5% of all cases. The 17,591 federal criminal immigration cases filed in the first 8 months of this fiscal year make the claims of lack of federal enforcement effort of SB 1070 proponents ring hollow.
The trend in federal drug prosecutions is surprising. Such prosecutions steadily increased in the first four Bush years, then declined precipitously for the next four years. In the first year of the Obama Administration, drug prosecutions in Arizona nearly doubled and are now running at three times the 2008 rate. Drug cases account for 6.8% of the caseload.
TRAC is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University.
Aug 13, 2010
More Disclosures on Thomas Misconduct
On April 27 AACJ filed a lengthy bar complaint against former Maricopa County Attorney and present candidate for Arizona Attorney General, Andrew Thomas, The complaint detailed misconduct of Thomas, in collusion with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Chief Deputy David Hendershott, going back five years and involving attempts to intimidate the judiciary and the county Board of Supervisors. Among other things, Thomas had filed criminal charges against a sitting superior court judge and sitting members of the Board.
Yesterday interim Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley, pursuant to a court order issued in the interest of justice, released hundreds of pages of grand jury testimony and exhibits detailing Thomas's machinations in failed attempts to obtain indictments in connection with a project to build a new court tower in downtown Phoenix and the Board's expenditure of funds to sweep its offices for illegal wiretaps.
Among the revelations was that on March 3, 2010, after hearing the evidence presented against six persons, including the judge, a Board member, the Board's private counsel, the County Manager and his Deputy and the Director of the Office of Enterprise Technology, the grand jury was asked by Thomas deputy Lisa Aubuchon to return the case to the County Attorney so that it might be shopped to an outside prosecutor. Apparently seeing the political witch hunt for what it was, the grand jury, in a runaway moment, discharged its responsibility to stand as a barrier between an overzealous or malevolent prosecutor and the putative defendants, and declined to return the case to Thomas. Instead, it voted to end the investigation. Despite this decision, and apparently failing to disclose it, Aubuchon tried to palm the case off on Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores on April 2,2010. Thomas had already resigned his office the previous day to run for Attorney General and Romley had not yet been appointed as interim successor. Ms. Flores, who had agreed to take over Thomas's earlier cases against two other Supervisors, smelled a rat and refused.
Ever willing to obfuscate matters. Thomas said that had the grand jury intended to exonerate the intended defendants it could have issued a "no bill". But, as the March 3 transcript reveals, the jurors were not given that option. Thomas's deputies told them that they could call for more witnesses, ask for a draft indictment or end the inquiry. They had no draft indictment before them to "no bill", and they didn't ask for one. They ended the inquiry.
Further information, including the grand jury transcripts, exhibits and other released documents, is available at azcentral.com. AACJ's bar complaint is available here. Information regarding the Justice Department investigation of Arpaio, Hendershott, Thomas and Aubuchon is also available on azcentral.com.
Jul 29, 2010
Arizona Supreme Court Issues Administrative Order Regarding 1070
The Arizona Supreme Court issued an Administrative Order dated July 28, 2010, regarding SB 1070. To read the order, click here: Administrative Order 2010-09
Jul 28, 2010
SB 1070 Injunction
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton has issued a preliminary injunction preventing several sections of Arizona's new immigration law from becoming law, at least until the courts have a chance to hear the full case.
Jun 29, 2010
The Defender is Back!
Jun 18, 2010
AACJ Files Amicus Brief Supporting Injunction Against SB 1070
AACJ has filed an Amicus brief in support of a preliminary injunction in Friendly House v. Wright, the ACLU's challenge to SB 1070, Arizona's new anti-immigrant law which is scheduled to go into effect on July 29. AACJ's brief asserts the unconstitutionality of the law on Fourth Amendment grounds, an argument not covered in the principal briefs.
AACJ's brief, authored by members David Euchner, Louis Fidel, Matthew Green and Adam Bleier, is available here.
May 26, 2010
Holder Restores Reason and Flexibility to Federal Charging and Sentencing Decisions
On May 19, 2010 Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo to all federal prosecutors setting forth new Department of Justice guidelines on charging and sentencing decisions. The new memo supersedes the infamous Ashcroft Memorandum of September 22, 2003 as well as subsequent pronouncements of the previous Administration.
The Ashcroft Memorandum was an attempt to limit severely prosecutorial discretion and to micro-manage charging and sentencing decisions. The Holder memo seeks to restore a measure of flexibility in dealing with individual cases. The Ashcroft mandates and exceptions are replaced by more general guidance and policy.
Note that all charging decisions must be reviewed by a supervisor. "All but the most routine indictments should be accompanied by a prosecution memorandum that identifies the charging options supported by the evidence and the law and explains the charging decision therein." This underscores the importance of defense involvement in the preindictment stage wherever possible, and the need to provide the prosecutor with as much support as possible for a decision to charge less than the most serious offense(s) available.
Apr 27, 2010
AACJ Files Bar Complaint Against Andrew Thomas
Today AACJ filed a bar complaint against Andrew Thomas, former Maricopa County attorney. AACJ brings this complaint at the direction of its Board of Governors on behalf of its members, the members of the Board and its officers, in discharge of a lawyer's obligation under Ethical Rule 8.3, Rule 43 of the Supreme Court of Arizona, to report to the Bar conduct of a lawyer which raises substantial question as to his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer. To read the full complaint, click here.
Mar 31, 2010
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Counsel Must Inform Client Regarding Deportation Risk
Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faces deportation after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges in Kentucky. In postconviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived in this country so long. He alleges that he would have gone to trial had he not received this incorrect advice. The Kentucky Supreme Court denied Padilla postconviction relief on the ground that the Sixth Amendment's effective assistance-of-counsel guarantee does not protect defendants from erroneous deportation advice because deportation is merely a "collateral" consequence of a conviction.
Held: Because counsel must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation, Padilla has sufficiently alleged that his counsel was constitutionally deficient. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced, a matter not addressed here.
Click here to read complete opinion on Padilla v. Kentucky.
Feb 23, 2010
AACJ Honors Award Recipients
AACJ recently held its annual awards luncheon in Prescott. Isabel G. Garcia received the AACJ Vanguard Leadership Award for her years of courageous leadership and commitment to the cause of Criminal Justice. Thomas F. Jacobs and Henry L. Jacobs received the AACJ Jack Williams Appellate Achievement Award in recognition of their work in Arizona v. Gant, with landmark victories before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court. Donald S. Klein was awarded the AACJ Tom Karas Indigent Defense Award in recognition of Don as a champion of indigent defense and in thanks for his leadership and dedication to indigent representation issues. Robert J. McWhirter, outgoing AACJ president, was honored with an award in grateful appreciation for his dedication and belief in AACJ. He was recognized as a leader with a strong vision, a sense of humor and a great hat!
Dec 23, 2009
Supreme Court Appoints McGregor Special Master in Maricopa Fiasco
The Arizona Supreme Court today took steps to bring a semblance of order to the chaotic situation caused by the efforts of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio to intimidate the Judiciary and punish their political enemies and critics, and their ongoing feud with the Board of Supervisors. The Court appointed retired former Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor as Special Master to administer all cases brought among the Maricopa County Attorney, Sheriff's Office, Board of Supervisors and/or the Superior Court. McGregor will have the "power to appoint judges to hear cases, motions, and preliminary matters, and to assign, reassign, expedite, or consolidate cases, or take such other actions as may be necessary or appropriate in these matters to ensure the swift, fair, and impartial administration of justice."
The Administrative Order, authored by Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, comes as a result of the various actions, civil and criminal, filed by the County Attorney against sitting and retired judges, the Sheriff's takeover of a criminal justice computer system that processes thousands of court transactions a month, and other threatened actions. The order noted that several filed cases were assigned to judges from outside the County and that defense attorneys had filed motions alleging conflict of interest on the part of the County Attorney in prosecuting unrelated criminal cases.
"The Superior Court in Maricopa County is the fifth largest court in the United States and handles more than 28,000 criminal felony matters each year. These investigations, cases, motions, and allegations, particularly the allegations of conflicts of interest and a conspiracy among the members of the Board of Supervisors and certain judges, including the Presiding Judge, have the potential to impair that court's ability to carry out its responsibilities and threaten the perception of impartial justice. More significantly, if a true conflict is found to exist requiring the transfer of all criminal cases prosecuted by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to out-of-county judges, a public safety emergency would arise."
Justice Berch went on to say:
"In an attempt to ensure that the lawsuits and investigations do not further affect the administration of justice in the Superior Court in Maricopa County or diminish public trust and confidence in the justice system, I am appointing a Special Master with power to administer cases stemming from the various actions or investigations by the Maricopa County Attorney or the Maricopa County Sheriff against any judge of the Superior Court in Maricopa County or the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors or any of its members."
A copy of the Court's order is here.
Aug 06, 2007
Members Only area of this website has opened!
The Members Only section of the AACJ website has opened. Members were sent an email with their permanent username and instructions for obtaining a randomly generated password. They now can login to the Members Only area and go to the My Account page to change their passwords to something of their own choosing.
Members are able to view and download documents from the Document Library and to upload documents, including court documents, appellate briefs and transcripts of expert and law enforcement witness testimony. They also can search for other members by name, firm name, private or public practice or location.
The AACJ Forum promises to be extremely useful. There members can post public or private messages to other members or the membership at large requesting or rendering assistance, or discussing matters of interest. The Forum is actually more than a dozen forums (fori?), each set up to handle a different area of intrest. While several deal with the business of the organization, most are for practice areas -- Indigent Defense, Capital Defense, DUI, Expert Witnesses, Federal Courts and so on. Within a practice area a member can create a new topic, leave a message under that topic and other members can reply to it, creating a thread of messages on the topic.
There are many ways in which you can can choose to be notified that new messages have been posted, ranging from receiving a single email each day that digests all messages that have been posted (and which contains links to the messages) to having the system "watch" particular forums or topics for new messages and notify you only of those. You can also opt to be notified by email when any message is posted to a forum in which you have posted a message.
You can even choose an RSS feed which can put a little button in your browser which, when clicked, will show the subject lines of any messages posted to the areas or topics you select, and a click on the subject line will take you right to the message.
The Forum is, in effect, a listserve that doesn't clutter your mailbox with dozens of messages you may not be interested in. It will also eliminate the emailed "Member Help Requests" that you receive from time to time, as all such requests can be posted in the Forum.
In addition to the features of the Members Only section, you may be pleased to know that henceforth you will be able to renew your membership online with a credit or debit card, or, if you are a member of PayPal, a PayPal credit. New members will be able to sign up in the same way.
We're very excited about the possibilities of these new features. Their potential will only be realized if you participate actively. If you draft a pleading or brief that may have utility beyond your immediate case, go to the Document Library Upload page and share it with other members. Do the same if you have transcripts of very good or very bad experts, or police officers or agents. And please, please, please use the Forum. We will have to overcome the inertia associated with using anything new, and the livlier the site is the more inclined folks will be to join in.
As always, we welcome your feedback. In fact, there's a forum set up just for that!