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Contempt of court ruling vs MCSO deputy is upheld

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a contempt of court finding against a Maricopa County Sheriff’s detention officer who rifled through a lawyer’s file during a court proceeding last year.

A judge ruled Nov. 18 that Adam Stoddard acted in contempt when he pulled two pieces of handwritten paper out of defense attorney Joanne Cuccia’s file during an Oct. 19 sentencing hearing. Stoddard testified that he saw words in a document sticking out of the file that led him to believe Cuccia’s client posed some sort of security threat.

Maricopa Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe found Stoddard in contempt when he refused to publicly apologize to Cuccia. He was jailed for nine days until the appeals court issued a stay on Dec. 11 pending his appeal.

But appeals court also threw out the public apology that Donahoe demanded and sent the matter back to Superior Court for a more appropriate sanction, such as a fine.

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