Archives for July 2008
Politicker AZ has a brief post this morning about Congressman John Shadegg’s willingness to succeed John McCain should he win the Presidency. Shadegg is clearly the obvious and best choice for that seat and you won’t hear any objections from me. So I’ll leave that political contest as a given. But if you look beyond the successor of John McCain the vacancy left in CD-3 will place Arizona’s political chessboard in motion creating all kinds of excitement amongst politicos. State legislators (Waring/Gorman/Allen) and city councilman (Baier/Simplot) among others (Hatch-Miller) will scramble to jump in this race. School board members will scramble to follow state legislative seats and on and on… So I’m throwing it out to all you political observers – what kind of matrix can we expect to see when John McCain becomes President and John Shadegg becomes the next Senator from Arizona?
As if things couldn’t get wackier in the Pinal County Sheriff’s office… Sheriff Vasquez once again proves us wrong…
Paul Babeu is a solid conservative running for Sheriff in Pinal County. As both a veteran of the Chandler Police Department and a US Army Combat Vet in Iraq, he has a solid record of service to his Country. I would encourage all of you to look at the race in Pinal County as Babeu has a solid shot of becoming the first Countywide Republican Official to be elected in the history of Pinal County… Please visit his website for more information. www.sheriffpaul.com
July 29, 2008
Records issues spur dismissal of Pinal DUI cases
Jason Massad, Tribune
At least four drunken-driving cases have been dismissed in the Apache Junction Justice Court since January because the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office failed to keep records that verified the validity of blood-alcohol readings.
The cases ranged from more minor offenses of driving while impaired to operating a vehicle above the legal .08 blood-alcohol limit to an extreme DUI.
The breathalyzer verification records were missing for periods from April 2007 to June 2008 in the Santan and Gold Canyon areas, a span of 14 months, according to officials.
Deputy Cardest James was in charge of the certification for some of that time, said Mike Minter, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Pinal County prosecutor Michael Larsen expressed frustration with James in a May 2008 e-mail, immediately before sheriff’s officials say they launched an internal audit into the matter.
Larsen said he had not received documents that demonstrated that the Intoxilyzer 8000, which the agency uses to verify blood-alcohol levels, had received the proper quality-assurance tests, even though he had requested the records several times.
“I need to know,” Larsen wrote. “There are a number of (Pinal County Sheriff’s Office) DUI cases that I will have to dismiss if I don’t get the documents by this week. I don’t want to dismiss the cases.”
Sheriff’s officials said two more DUI cases could be dropped because proper procedure was not followed, Minter said.
There’s no way to determine how many convictions were obtained while the breathalyzer records were not kept, or how many people could have escaped a conviction if they had argued that proper record-keeping hadn’t occurred.
Kostas Kalaitzidis, spokesman for the county attorney’s office, said that records on criminal misdemeanors are destroyed after they are finalized. Larsen said he would not comment on any cases, citing county policy.
The most high-stakes of all the DUI cases that were dropped involved Barbara Hornbeck, a Queen Creek resident who was facing three counts of DUI, including an extreme DUI. Hornbeck initially tested with a .15 blood-alcohol level or more, according to police records. That’s about twice the legal limit for driving.
The 33-year-old was stopped in June 2007 at the railroad tracks near Gantzel Road north of Empire Road, according to the police report.
Extreme DUIs can land those convicted in jail for a minimum of 30 days and include fines of $500 to $2,500, probation, a suspended driver’s license and a required ignition interlock device to verify that a person has not been drinking before getting behind the wheel. Insurance premiums for those convicted of DUI also skyrocket for several years after a conviction.
However, after a lengthy and expensive court battle for both sides, a jury trial date was set for June 11, 2008, according to a court record filed in Apache Junction Justice Court. Seven days before the trial was to begin, Larsen issued a motion to dismiss the matter, and it was granted. A notation on the motion said that the dismissal was “based on … Intox 8000 issues.”
Craig Gillespie, a DUI lawyer and former prosecutor, said that the central fact in many DUI cases is the blood-alcohol reading. A breathalyzer’s calibration is required to be checked every 30 days, and a larger series of tests is run every 90 days to make sure the machine is functional, according to the sheriff’s office.
His firm, The Gillespie Law Firm, has won DUI cases that showed a breathalyzer didn’t have the necessary documentation to demonstrate that it worked properly. He said, though, that he has never seen a case where there was a problem in documenting equipment consistently over the span of a year.
“That’s very odd,” he said. “Law enforcement is charged with the responsibility of keeping these records. It’s just standard practice. If they are not keeping them or misplaced them, then someone has dropped the ball.”
Sheriff Chris Vasquez said that the office launched an internal audit into the matter in June.
However, his office didn’t send out a news release about the audit until Tuesday, after the Tribune requested records from the Apache Junction Justice Court that verified some of the DUI dismissals.
When questioned about the timing of the announcement, Minter said that he got back to the office last week after medical leave and discussed releasing the internal audit to the media.
The sheriff also recently disclosed an internal investigation after news reports that a homicide detective was storing pornographic and racially insensitive e-mails on his computer. The sheriff said that no disciplinary action has been taken in the matter, and that a systemwide review is under way.
CD 1 candidate Dr. Sandra Livingstone sent out a press release announcing an endorsement from former State Representative Debra Brimhall. Livingstone has a short summery of Brimhall in the first paragraph of the press release.
Representative Brimhall was born and raised in Prescott, went to High School in Snowflake, and built her home in Pinedale, the home town of her great-great Grandfather, State Representative James Petersen. That home burned in the Rodeo/Chedeski fire in 2002. Debra’s father was born in Sedona and raised there as well as the Daisy cinder pit of Flagstaff. He married Miss Yavapai County Donna Petersen of the Petersen Sawmill family. They had the Baker Ranch at Roper Lake outside of Safford.
What brand of cat litter does she prefer?
I have known Sydney Hay since 1988, and I consider her a friend. Sydney understands America’s need to expand the production of energy supply for our homes and businesses. She understands the price of doing nothing is severe to consumers and to our national security
I am a Yavapai County Republican voter, and I will be voting for Sydney Hay in the Republican primary
Spitzer currently serves on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He has also served as Majority leader of the Arizona State Senate and as Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission.
We have completed our endorsements for State House. As with the previous endorsements, we are not focusing on uncontested primaries at this time. We will of course be endorsing conservative candidates who face a general election challenger at a future date. To see the full list of our endorsements click on the 2008 Primary Candidate Endorsements link in the column on the right.
House: Trish Groe – ENDORSED
House: Andy Biggs – ENDORSED
House: Laurin Hendrix – ENDORSED
Legislative District 6 House candidate, Tony Bouie, has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Read the press release here.
The Republic carried a story over the weekend on the inappropriate efforts of the partisan Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct, a commission under the control of the Arizona Supreme Court, to inject itself into a local justice of the peace election. Commission Executive Director E. Keith Stott sent a “courtesy notice” ordering Republican justice of the peace hopeful Jolene Penson to censor her own campaign signs. The offending free speech was wording on her sign touting the endorsement of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
You might be wondering whatever happened to free speech. Or how voters are supposed to know who to vote for if the judiciary censors free speech. Those are good questions. The worst part about this is that in 2002, in Minnesota Republican Party v. White, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the free speech rights of judicial candidates. In no uncertain terms, the Supreme Court made clear that the efforts of liberal bar associations and state judiciaries to gag judicial candidates and keep the public in the dark through so-called “ethical cannons” was unconstitutional.
All lawyers, including our judges, take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. But our own state judiciary does not like this Supreme Court opinion so they have simply ignored it and not changed the state’s judicial ethics rules to bring them into compliance with the U.S. Constitution. In doing this, they not only violate the U.S. Constitution, but they violate their oath to uphold the Constitution. In reality, Ms. Penson did not run afoul of any ethical rule because the ethical rule in question is unconstitutional. But nonetheless, the failure of the Arizona judiciary to amend its rule to conform to the constitution allowed the liberal partisans at the Commission on Judicial Conduct to write a letter, leak it to the media, and smear Ms. Penson, a conservative Republican.
There’s a larger issue here, and that is that liberal interests, which include our state judiciary, are desperately trying to keep the judiciary as liberal as possible. If voters knew how liberal the current crop of judges are, they would be ridden out of town on a rail. The way the judiciary prevents that from happening is by gagging judicial candidates who would otherwise tell the truth about liberal judges.
Fortunately, a lawsuit has been filed by Mohave County judicial candidate Randolph Wolfson to force the judiciary to amend its ethical rules so they no longer violate the Constitution. The Republic had a good article on it in June. Even ultraliberal ASU law professor Paul Bender predicted that the current ethical rules would be struck down:
“Bender, the ASU professor, said Wolfson likely will succeed in securing the right to publicly take a stand on political issues based on the Minnesota precedent. ‘If you’re going to let them run for election, it’s a little hard to tell them they cannot announce their views.'”
These efforts come too late for Jolene Penson. The state judiciary, through its Commission on Judicial Conduct, has already succeeded in smearing her for engaging in constitutionally protected activity–free speech, and in the process hurting her chances of becoming a justice of the peace.
Not to be outdone after letting one of the brothers die while under their control, Child Protective Services (CPS) has canceled visitation for the father to see his remaining son. CPS has the gaul to claim “The decision was made in the child’s best interest.” It is amazing how CPS makes like and death decisions regarding custody and holds other accountable for their actions. Who holds CPS accountable for their actions and the subsequent death of Fabian?
Kudos to Josh Brodesky for quality reporting on these difficult CPS stories.
Click here for the Arizona Right to Life PAC Endorsements.
Here are the LD 4 Republican endorsements – PDF file.
Unanimous endorsements for the Sept. 2, 2008 primary election went to:
Congressional District (CD) 1 Candidate Sydney Hay,
CD2 Rep. Trent Franks,
CD3 Rep. John Shadegg,
Legislative District (LD) 4 Senator Jack Harper,
LD4 Representatives Judy Burges and Tom Boone,
Maricopa County (MC) Supervisor Max Wilson,
MC Sheriff Joe Arpaio,
MC Attorney Andrew Thomas,
MC Treasurer Hos Hoskins,
MC Hospital Board Candidate Bick Bicknell and
MC Community College Board Candidate Paul Srch.