Public records laws??? Screw those public records laws!!!! I got a gun and a badge and I'm above the law.
Sadly that's how many police officers feel about all laws. And sadly the judge seems to feel the same way.
Judge denies request for info on dead MCSO deputy
Megan Cassidy, The Republic | azcentral.com 9:55 p.m. MST August 2, 2014
Before authorities discovered a stash of driver's licenses, license plates, torn-up citations and drugs in Ramon "Charley" Armendariz's home, the now-deceased former Maricopa County sheriff's deputy served on the department's human-smuggling unit, aiding in investigations of identity-theft cases.
The apparent hypocrisy of an identity-theft detective hoarding IDs led observers to predict that Armendariz's involvement would derail the cases he touched, undermining the integrity of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's illegal-immigration enforcement efforts.
But the first legal test for that theory — a high-profile case involving a pizza restaurant whose owners are among the handful to be targeted by deputies in the history of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's workplace raids—showed Armendariz's damage to cases could be minimal.
In a rare immigration-related victory for the Sheriff's Office, a judge issued a ruling on Tuesday that said Armendariz's tangential involvement in a recent identity-theft case did not warrant further inspection, and denied the defendants' request to obtain evidence about the deputy that could bode in their favor.
Attorneys for Uncle Sam's pizza restaurateurs Bret Frimmel and Lisa Norton have fought numerous aspects of the charges that arose from the July 17, 2013, raid on their two restaurants and argue Armendariz's actions had irrevocably discredited the case.
Frimmel and Norton hold the distinction of being the first employers, rather than employees, to face criminal charges as a result of Arpaio's workplace raids. The two were arrested in January following a more prototypical investigation several months earlier, in which nine Uncle Sam's employees were booked on suspicion of forgery and identity theft.
In a May motion, defense attorney Paul Charlton wrote that Armendariz had played an active role in the raid and said the case detective's surveillance report relied, in part, "on the work of now-deceased MCSO Det. Armendariz, the identity thief and drug addict."
Charlton asked that Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders order prosecutors to produce the Sheriff's Office's internal investigation into Armendariz. His previous attempts to obtain this information directly from prosecutors had been denied, signaling what Charlton believed was a result of the County Attorney Office's willingness to excuse the Sheriff's Office's bad behavior.
The response from the County Attorney's Office "is alarming, as it reflects a belief within (the office) that a certain level of 'collateral' corruption within MCSO is acceptable," Charlton wrote.
Deputy County Attorney Jaimee Oliver defended the office's decision not to release the information, arguing in a response that Armendariz played a "very minor role" in the raid. His duties were limited, she said, to checking license plates while Uncle Sam's was under surveillance and helping identify employees during the first search warrant.
Oliver said Charlton's requests amounted to little more than a fishing expedition.
"Defense also requested unfettered access to the investigation into Det. Armendariz, as well as completed, un-redacted personnel files and all documents pertaining to any investigation into MCSO's conduct," Oliver wrote. "Defense is not entitled to this information as it is not relevant to the investigation at hand."
Oliver said if any exculpatory evidence related to the Uncle Sam's case emerges during the Armendariz investigation, the materials would be turned over to Charlton and his team.
Charlton also argued they are legally entitled to a mass of evidence the state hasn't turned over related to other deputies and defendants in the case and what, if any, knowledge the Sheriff's Office's had prior to the raid regarding Frimmel's potential ties to a Department of Justice civil-rights case against Arpaio's office.
Point by point, the prosecutor's response maintained the same tone: The requested material either had been or would be supplied, was unavailable or was not subject to disclosure.
And point by point, Sanders tended to agree with the state.
In a ruling released last week, she upheld prosecutors' objections on nearly every count, agreeing that the request for information on Armendariz was "overbroad and unduly burdensome." Sanders agreed Armendariz's role was minimal and assured the defense that the state would disclose any favorable evidence.
Charlton said he and the defense team will be filing a special action to appeal the decision.
Armendariz was found dead in his home on May 8, an apparent suicide that capped a week of back-to-back encounters with law enforcement.
Phoenix police initially responded to his home the week before to find Armendariz chasing a phantom burglar. A search warrant was served at his home shortly thereafter, and he resigned May 2.
But the deputy was able to dodge media attention until the following Sunday, when he barricaded himself in his home for nearly nine hours. The standoff ended peacefully, with Armendariz arrested Monday on drug charges. It was later revealed that authorities searching his home found hundreds of IDs, driver's licenses, license plates, passports and airport security cards, as well as torn-up citations.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in May the revelation indicated a shakedown and would create a "universe" of review work for his office. He said prosecutors would have to look at the confiscated property and cross-reference those identities to determine any case overlap.
Jerry Cobb, a Montgomery spokesman, said last week that the process was ongoing.
The Sheriff's Office is conducting a review and has been ordered by a federal judge to turn over findings to the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona John Leonardo and the County Attorney's Office.
Jack MacIntyre, a deputy chief in Arpaio's office, said the investigation is overwhelming but denied any evidence of a shakedown.