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Jury did not take into account possibility there were issues with an air conditioning unit, said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
PHOENIX (AP) — Animal-cruelty charges will be dismissed against the owners of a suburban Phoenix kennel and two caretakers charged in the deaths of 21 dogs this summer, prosecutors said Monday.
Arizonans may get a chance to decide if they want to let farmers here grow an industrial — and not psychoactive — version of marijuana.
PHOENIX (AP) — A prosecutor accepted blame Friday for an error by his office that's expected to lead to the dismissal of corruption charges against at least one former sheriff's employee accused of helping a cartel-connected heroin smuggling ring.
PHOENIX (AP) — In a scathing critique of Arizona's criminal justice system, a state appeals court Thursday ordered the dismissal of murder charges against a woman who spent 22 years on death row for the killing of her 4-year-old son.
The Arizona Court of Appeals leveled harsh criticism against prosecutors over their failure to turn over evidence during Debra Jean Milke's trial about a detective with a long history of misconduct and lying. The court called prosecutors' actions "a severe stain on the Arizona justice system."
A three-judge panel of the appeals court said it agreed with Milke's argument that a retrial would amount to double jeopardy.
The failure to disclose the evidence "calls into question the integrity of the system and was highly prejudicial to Milke," the court wrote. "In these circumstances — which will hopefully remain unique in the history of Arizona law — the most potent constitutional remedy is required."
The court said the charges against Milke in the 1989 death of her son Christopher can't be refiled, but prosecutors could appeal Thursday's ruling to the state Supreme Court.
Authorities say Milke dressed her son in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989. He was then taken into the desert near Phoenix by two men and shot in the back of the head.
Authorities say Milke's motive was that she didn't want the child anymore and didn't want him to live with his father.
She was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to death. The case rested largely on her purported confession to Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate, which he did not record.
Milke, 50, was on death row for two decades, and the Arizona Supreme Court had gone so far as to issue a death warrant for Milke in 1997. The execution was delayed because she had yet to exhaust federal appeals.
The appeals court said Thursday it wasn't expressing an opinion on Milke's guilt or innocence, though it heavily criticized authorities for staking much of their case on a detective with credibility problems.
A federal appeals court threw out Milke's first-degree murder conviction in March 2013, saying prosecutors knew about a history of misconduct by the detective but failed to disclose it. Maricopa County prosecutors were preparing for a retrial.
Milke's appellate attorney, Lori Voepel, was ecstatic at Thursday's victory.
"We're all thrilled," Voepel said. "We still have the gag order so we can't say much more than we're all thrilled with the opinion."
Milke has been free on bail since September 2013 as she awaited retrial.
"This is really a sock in the gut — it's a cheap shot," said Arizona Milke, Christopher's father and Debra Milke's ex-husband. "She shouldn't walk free, because she's guilty."
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office is handling the case, said he plans to ask the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn Thursday's ruling. Montgomery said the accusations of misconduct happened well before he took over as the county's top prosecutor and would not happen today, citing safeguards such as having detectives record interviews with suspects.
Montgomery also said he would not be pursuing the case if he believed the evidence could not lead to a conviction in Christopher's killing.
"He should not be forgotten in all of this. Justice and due process for Christopher is a right that he has, too," Montgomery said. "And it's the job of prosecutors, unfortunately in situations like this, where we have to be the voice of the voiceless."
Milke has maintained her innocence and denied she ever confessed to the killing. The two men who led her child to his death in the desert were convicted of murder but refused to testify against Milke.
That left jurors with Saldate's word alone that she told him about her involvement. Saldate has since retired, and The Associated Press has made repeated efforts to reach him for comment.
In its ruling overturning Milke's conviction, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited numerous instances in which Saldate committed misconduct in previous cases, including lying under oath and violating suspects' rights. The federal appeals court also asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Saldate had committed civil rights violations.
Prosecutors insist Milke is guilty, but their ability to try her again was limited by the fact that Saldate said he wouldn't testify. He fears potential federal charges based on the 9th Circuit's accusations of misconduct.
In December, Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz granted Saldate's request to assert his Fifth Amendment right, allowing him to refuse to take the stand.
The state Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in April and said Saldate would be forced to testify at the retrial. Both county and federal authorities said they don't intend to seek charges against the detective based on any of the accusations leveled by the federal appeals court.
Milke, whose mother was a German who married a U.S. Air Force military policeman in Berlin in the 1960s, has drawn strong support from citizens of that nation and Switzerland, neither of which has the death penalty.
Milke's mother died in Germany this year after a battle with cancer. A week before the August death, a judge had denied Milke's request for permission to travel to Germany to visit her mother.
Hoping to knock down any talk of sentencing reform, Arizona prosecutors released a report Friday seeking to debunk claims that some of the more than 41,000 people behind bars here really don't belong there.
Boys Runner(s) of the Year:
PHOENIX (AP) — The deadly shooting of a black, unarmed drug suspect by a white Phoenix police officer who mistook a pill bottle for a gun demonstrates the challenges law enforcement agencies face at a time of unrest over police tactics.
Well, can you blame them if they don’t want to be sued by Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, pagans, Shintoists, Sikhs and Jains, etc., for not allowing their public-school students to observe their religious holidays? “Diversity” has become the progressive/liberal/socialist/Democrat mantra. Our liberal local and federal judges, appellate courts, and four Supreme Court justices no longer consider America as a Judeo-Christian nation, even though America’s Founding Fathers and successive administrations until the 1960s thought so.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The cases before a Tucson judge on Wednesday seemed fairly routine: Two men charged with drug offenses asking him to grant them bail.
What stood out, however, was that the two men had a right to a bail hearing in the first place.
Last month, a federal appeals court threw out a 2006 Arizona law denying bail to immigrants in the country illegally.
That cleared the way for the proceedings in Tucson and elsewhere.
Miguel Angel Valenzuela and Juan Angel-Carmona Pineda were arrested on Nov. 13, the same day the Supreme Court let stand the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to halt enforcement of the law.
Pineda was accused of transporting more than 100 pounds of marijuana. Valenzuela faces charges relating to the alleged possession of a pound of pot.
The judge noted the new rules imposed by the courts as he granted the two men bail, even though he set it so high that they will likely be unable to come up with the money.
"Essentially we have the 9th Circuit decision still standing and the way I view it, it's binding on me," Judge José Luis Castillo said.
Castillo set Valenzuela's bail at $50,000, cash only, and Carmona Pineda's was set at $75,000, also cash only.
Defense attorneys and immigrant advocates who say the law is unconstitutional contend many immigrants who wound up in jail without bond had committed offenses such as using a fake identity to work or carrying small amounts of drugs.
Proposition 100 was passed amid a series of immigration crackdowns in Arizona. It denied bail to immigrants in the country illegally who have been charged with felonies such as shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has said it protects the public from serious offenders who would not likely show up for court again if let loose.
His spokesman, Jerry Cobb, said the state will continue to defend the law and will file an appeal with the Supreme Court, asking justices to hear the case and make a ruling on the law.
"The nightmare scenario is that the drug cartel sends somebody into the U.S. to commit a hit on somebody and they murder somebody," Cobb said. "And the cartel comes and bails them out because that's nothing, that's chump change for a drug cartel."
Maricopa County Deputy Public Defender Mikel Steinfeld said it's hard to keep track of how many immigrants were held without bond since the law passed because there are several organizations that provide public defense and some immigrants hire private attorneys. He and a colleague estimated that as many as 300 prisoners, possibly more, were affected in Maricopa County.
"I think we're both optimistic that our clients who happen to be illegal immigrants will be treated on a more equitable level with the remainder of clients," Steinfeld said.
In Pima County, defense attorneys say local judges stopped enforcing the law when the appeals court put it on hold a month ago.
Lawyer Margo Cowan, who represented the two men in court in Tucson, has handled the bulk of no-bail cases and says in many instances, judges didn't enforce the rule in the first place because it was too difficult to prove that a defendant was actually residing in the country illegally.
"In Pima County, these judges tend to be very fair and unbiased and evaluate the case for what it is," Cowan said.
But there were exceptions. Judge Castillo noted that until recently, judges in Pima County Justice Court had not been on the same page about whether the no-bail rule was enforceable.
In Maricopa County, judges have been directed to stop enforcing the rule. Cobb estimates that upward of 450 defendants will now clog the courts calendar with hearings seeking bail.
Tom Horne will pay $10,000 out of his own pocket to end an investigation into whether he illegally used staffers at the Attorney General's Office in his unsuccessful reelection campaign.
PHOENIX -- Hundreds of immigrants in this country illegally who are locked away on state charges will now be entitled to seek bail -- at least in Maricopa County if not elsewhere in Arizona.
Hundreds of immigrants in this country illegally who are locked away on state charges will now be entitled to seek bail — at least in Maricopa County if not elsewhere in Arizona.
PHOENIX -- Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union want the U.S. Supreme Court to stay out of the fight over whether Arizona can deny bail to people in this country illegally, at least for the time being.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union want the U.S. Supreme Court to stay out of the fight over whether Arizona can deny bail to people in this country illegally, at least for the time being.
PHOENIX -- Immigrants in this country illegally awaiting trial on criminal charges won't be getting out of jail, at least not yet.
A federal appeals court rejected a last-ditch plea by an Arizona prosecutor to salvage Proposition 100, potentially paving the way for dozens of people locked up while awaiting trial to now seek bail.
PHOENIX -- Prosecutors in three Arizona counties are using new figures on where teens now get their marijuana to lobby against making the drug legal for all adults.
PHOENIX -- A federal appeals court rejected a last-ditch plea by an Arizona prosecutor to salvage Proposition 100, potentially paving the way for dozens of people locked up while awaiting trial to now seek bail.
Prosecutors in three Arizona counties are using new figures on where teens now get their marijuana to lobby against making the drug legal for all adults. But the data may not be as clear-cut as it seems.
PHOENIX (AP) — Three of Arizona's top prosecutors are calling on political and civic leaders to oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk are asking state leaders to stand on the side of decreasing drug use among youth.
The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork in Arizona to begin fundraising for a marijuana legalization ballot measure for 2016.
A University of Michigan survey shows states with medical marijuana make up the top 10 states for illicit use of marijuana by minors between ages 12 and 17.
Prosecutors say an Arizona Youth Survey shows the number of students who use illicit marijuana by getting it from someone with a medical marijuana card is on the rise.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to reconsider his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.
PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to give him what legal foes call a "do-over'' of his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.
Montgomery conceded in filings with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a prior county attorney did not present evidence showing that undocumented individuals were less likely to show up for court dates than citizens or legal residents. The appellate judges, citing that lack of evidence, ruled last week that lack of facts, coupled with disparate treatment of those without documents, make the 2006 voter-approved Proposition 100 illegal and unenforceable anywhere in Arizona.
But Montgomery, in his latest plea, said that was because the challengers to the law effectively admitted that to be true. So he said there was no need to present any statistical evidence.
Cecillia Wang, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that's not true. She said Montgomery is now seeking a "do-over'' for flaws in the way his office handled the case in the first place.
"They had every opportunity to show that Proposition 100 was supported by some indication there was a flight risk issue here,'' she said. "And they didn't do it,'' Wang continued. "You know why? Because those numbers don't exist.''
Montgomery said he does have such data, even though former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was in office when the law was challenged, chose not to present it. And he said the appellate court should give him a chance to make the case now.
"The story is not, 'I want a do-over, Andy Thomas screwed up,' ''Montgomery said. He said it's a question of "simple fairness.''
He said if the appellate court is relying on a lack of evidence to support Proposition 100 they should direct there be a court hearing to explore that issue before voiding a voter-approved state constitutional amendment.
This is more than a question of what happens going forward.
Montgomery said there are "a couple of hundred'' people now in his own county jails awaiting trial who were denied bail because of Proposition 100. He said if the ruling is not overturned, that will allow each of those people to demand a hearing to determine if they should be released -- a process that would be repeated in each of the other 14 counties -- which will cause a backup in handling other cases.
He also told the appellate judges if do not want to give him another chance to make his case, they should at least delay implementing their ruling to let him seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The measure makes bail unavailable to those charged with "serious felony offenses'' if they are in this country illegally and if "the proof is evident or the presumption great'' that the person is guilty of the offense charged.
Proponents said that anyone who has crossed the border illegally probably has few ties to this country, making them a greater flight risk.
Voters approved the measure on a 3-1 ratio.
But appellate Judge Raymond Fisher, writing for the majority of the 11-member court, said there is a constitutional presumptive right of those arrested to be released on bail.
Fisher acknowledged that Arizona has a "compelling interest'' in ensuring that those accused of crimes show up for trial. But he said a blanket rule that those in the country illegally accused of certain crimes must be held without bond is not justified.
"The record contains no findings, studies, statistics or other evidence ... showing that undocumented immigrants as a group pose either an unmanageable flight risk or a significantly greater flight risk than lawful residents,'' Fisher wrote.
It is that evidence that Montgomery now contends he can marshal. But it may not matter.
Fisher said he and his colleagues are not saying it is up to the Montgomery to produce such evidence. But he said the absence of such evidence is a key factor in showing that Proposition 100 was not narrowly crafted to address a specific problem.
Fisher suggested there is, in fact, evidence to the contrary.
He pointed out there were undocumented individuals who had been arrested before Proposition 100 was approved who had been released without bail or after posting bond. He said they still showed up in court -- only to then be "needlessly remanded into state custody'' after the ballot measure took effect.
Montgomery has another hurdle to overcome: the breadth of the measure.
Fisher pointed out that Proposition 100 applies not just to those accused of serious offenses but "also relatively minor ones,'' like altering a lottery ticket with intent to defraud, unlawful copying of a sound recording, or theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000.
What Thomas did or did not do plays into this case in another way.
Appellate Judge Richard Tallman, dissenting from the majority ruling, said there was evidence of a sort presented: statements made by Thomas in favor of the measure during the 2006 campaign. Thomas argued that "far too many illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes have jumped bail and slipped across the border in order to avoid justice in an Arizona courtroom.''
But Fisher said that statement is not substantiated with any real data.
And he said "is not a credible source,'' having been disbarred two years ago on charges he used his office to "destroy political enemies'' and for filing unfounded criminal charges.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to give him what legal foes call a “do-over” of his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.