I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dismissed with Prejudice

So, Orlando's trespassing case was thrown out of court today because of procedural problems the Maricopa County Sheriff's office had with the evidence-gathering process. Basically, it sounds like one of their deputies (Smith) blew off the defense's deposition, and her testimony about it was directly contradicted in court by her superior officer (McIntyre). She was pretty hostile during questioning; was even told to chill out a couple of times by the judge - The day's "Minister of Justice": Armando Gandarilla. He admonished her for being "combative".

Gandarilla dismissed the case with prejudice (check this out for the last time he did this), levying sanctions against the MCSO in the process (which will also pick up the defense attorney's tab). The prosecuting attorney tried to offer up Deputy Smith as a sole sacrificial lamb, but Gandarilla wouldn't have it. I don't know what he thinks about the MCSO trying to prosecute the case in the first place, but he listened pretty extensively to the county attorney's arguments and the defense's evidence before issuing his decision. It really came down to whether Smith blew off the original defense's deposition contemptuously or missed it under a supervisor's orders or through sincere error. Clearly Smith didn't emanate sincerity.

So, dismissing the case wasn't necessarily a message that it was brought irresponsibly in the first place, but the good Judge didn't let the opportunity pass to tell the Sheriff what he thinks. Gandarilla cited his 31 years in the legal profession, which always means that someone's in trouble. He couldn't believe this case had even reached his bench, and seemed pretty annoyed with the prosecutor for trying it. He mentioned that people in the legal profession are held to higher standards, and suggested that the MCSO's lack of credibility and conduct in this case and in general has put all of law enforcement in a bad light - hence the sanctions against the department, not just the deputy. So, it wasn't so much about freedom of speech or anything as it was about the integrity of evidence - officially, anyway.

At least, I think that's what happened. Check out Stephen Lemons' blog this week, I'd guess, for the full scoop. It was really a pretty good show by the defense - sorry I didn't get his name.

The courtroom was packed, by the way, with all the usual suspects and a few I didn't know, including a whole bunch of kids. We all started to applaud and cheer but got hushed after the prosecutor gave up arguing with the judge and he issued his ruling one final time. One of the other court-watchers heard the county attorney say, on her way out the door, "I hope you all get sanctions" (presumably a reference to our collective emotional response to Orlando's victory).

Guess this won't go over well in either Arpaio's or Thomas' offices today. They probably watched it on closed-circuit TV trying to identify members of the audience to see who to go after next. Stupid white men (with guns). You're never going to win this one, guys. You can't just keep bullying people into silence or submission, be it by criminalizing their freedom of speech, or conducting those massive "crime suppression sweeps" in select neighborhoods. We outnumber you now.

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