Attorney General Terry Goddard has joined the battle to define how the courts should handle Proposition 100, a voter-approved law which denies bail to illegal immigrants charged with serious felonies.
Unreasonable time constraints and strict standards for evidence are keeping law enforcement from upholding the new law, he argues. He also claims that an administrative order issued in April by the Arizona Supreme Court has misled county judges.
On Wednesday, Goddard asked the Court of Appeals to overturn that order, which sets a high standard for determining whether someone is an illegal immigrant.
Prop. 100 has been a source of conflict among courts, attorneys and the Legislature since Arizona voters passed it last November.
The staff of Maricopa County Superior Court has struggled to implement the proposition in part because of a requirement for a hearing within 48 hours of arrest, making it difficult for the state to prove the immigration status of a defendant in such a short time.
Court officials have also argued that there are no clear guidelines as to how the law should be implemented while ensuring that no one’s constitutional rights are violated.
In March, Maricopa County Superior Court was taking heat for the lack of enforcement of the new law while court officials tried to figure out how to enforce it.
To clarify the issue, the Supreme Court issued an administrative order on April 3 as guidance. The court said that potential illegal immigrants must receive a special hearing to determine their immigration status within 48 hours of their arrest — 24 hours after their initial appearance in court.
Also under this order, prosecutors are supposed to prove that a defendant was very likely in the country illegally. But they cannot use hearsay about the defendant’s legal status, or the defendant’s admission of being here illegally as proof.
Goddard’s petition argues that the order has set too high a bar for proof of someone’s legal status — much higher than the law meant it to be.
He also argues that 24 hours isn’t enough time for attorneys to prepare evidence.
The Court of Appeals hasn’t decided whether it will accept Goddard’s petition.