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No one refused to enforce Prop. 100

We need to stop the divisive, unproductive finger-pointing and blame-placing that has not served our community or criminal justice system well.

A great deal of publicity has been circulating about enforcement of Proposition 100 in the case of Ruben Rivera.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rivera was released from jail because of a lack of communication between the prosecutors, judicial officers, the court clerk and the sheriff — not because anyone “refused” to enforce Proposition 100.
Mr. Rivera was arrested on March 5 and booked in the county jail. His initial appearance was the same day. While the forms the commissioner reviewed indicated the defendant was not a U.S. citizen, they did not state he was in the country illegally, so a $10,000 bond was set. Mr. Rivera never posted bond and was never released on bond.
On March 15, the prosecutor asked to vacate the preliminary hearing, which meant the defendant could not be held in jail unless an indictment was obtained later that day. The prosecutor did not object when the commissioner issued a conditional release order that would be effective “unless a notice of supervening indictment has been filed.”
An indictment was not filed with the Clerk of the Court until 4:47 p.m. on March 15. The prosecutor did not ask the clerk to expedite delivery of the indictment to the jail. The prosecutor did not inform the commissioner handling the grand jury returns that Mr. Rivera was in the country unlawfully or object to a $10,000 bond. The Clerk of Court, which is a separate and distinct elected governmental entity from the court and has its own policies and procedures, did not deliver the indictment to jail personnel until the next day, March 16. Mr. Rivera had been released to ICE for deportation earlier that day.
Last week, I met with all of the elected and appointed officials in Maricopa County’s criminal justice system to address this communication breakdown. Sheriff Joe Arpaio sat at the head table with me, as did County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Participants included officials from ICE, the state Attorney General’s Office, indigent defense agencies, adult probation, Clerk of the Superior Court and others. Nearly 30 experts sat together to discuss how each segment of the criminal justice system can effectively communicate critical information.
By the end of the day, details of new initiatives were revealed, promising that steps have already been taken to improve the efficiency of each participant’s piece of the process. We accomplished the following:
• Indictments — including those returned late in the day — will be reported to the sheriff’s jail staff before Clerk of Court staff leaves for the day.
• Sheriff’s detention officers certified by ICE will have access to the federal Homeland Security database and will check defendants’ immigration status as soon as they are booked into jail. The sheriff’s officers will give this information to Initial Appearance Court Commissioners.
• New Supreme Court policy and guidelines issued by Chief Justice Ruth McGregor the afternoon of the meeting set new standards for determining probable cause that a non-citizen is in the country illegally. I conducted a training session on the new guidelines with the Initial Appearance Commissioners that evening to implement the policy immediately.
• Starting next week, deputy county attorneys will attend Initial Appearance Court sessions around the clock, seven days a week, to provide information that will help commissioners decide release issues.
• Defense lawyers also will begin attending Initial Appearances.
• To comply with Proposition 100, Chief Justice McGregor authorized pre-trial services staff to ask defendants in Initial Appearance Court about their citizenship and immigration status. I issued a directive to staff to implement this policy immediately. Staff members will acknowledge that they have received a copy of the policy and will comply with it.
We each have a role to play in assuring safety in our community. We need to stop the divisive, unproductive finger-pointing and blame-placing that has not served our community or criminal justice system well.
We all have a common goal to assure public safety and enforce the law. It’s time to act like professionals and get it done.
Barbara Rodriguez Mundell is the presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court.

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