Adversarial challenges to one’s statements are a vital check on errors and deceit. Clashes of ideas are an irreplaceable instrument for truth-finding. Shielding oneself from such challenges (or just ignoring them) is not only irresponsible and cowardly, but ensures that one can opine without accountability. That’s why bloggers who have an active, smart and critical comment section with which they interact have a major advantage over journalists who hide from critical scrutiny. In all of this, it’s reasonable to exercise some discretion — not all criticisms and/or critics merit attention — but those who avoid any real challenges to their statements (whether politicians, journalists, or pundits) ought to be stigmatized for doing so, and it ought to be viewed as a powerful indictment against their credibility.
Article 2, Section 24 of the Arizona Constitution gives criminal defendants the right to “meet the witnesses against him face to face.” Arizona courts have interpreted this clause as giving defendants the right to question and cross-examine witnesses. There is no opportunity to question or cross-examine a witness before a grand jury. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”
In addition, Arizona courts have recognized a “rule of lenity” which requires that criminal laws be interpreted so that any doubt is resolved in favor of the defendant (Vo v. Superior Court, 172 Ariz. 195, 836 P.2d 408 (App. 1992)).
When a grand jury returns an indictment against a citizen, that citizen has not had the opportunity to question and cross-examine a single witness. This is because a citizen is not a defendant until charged with committing a crime. Until indicted, the citizen is the subject of an investigation or a suspect. A prosecutor presents the grand with the minimum evidence necessary to convince the grand jury that a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe the subject of the investigation committed it. Grand jurors are given explicit instructions that they are not determining the guilt or innocence of the subject of the investigation.
The Grand Jury does NOT decide whether someone is guilty or not guilty. That will be determined by a trial jury.
The above statement is taken directly from the information packet handed out to all grand jurors the day they are sworn in.
953 criminal trials were held in FY08. Trial Rate 2.3% Trial rate equals total trials completed divided by total case filings.
The above statistics were taken from the Annual Statistical Report for fiscal year 2008 for the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County.
The US Constitution and the Arizona Constitution give criminal defendants the rights to meet, confront and cross examine the witnesses against them. To access these rights criminal defendants must choose to go to trial. In Maricopa County during fiscal year 2008 2.3% of defendants chose to go to trial. What happened to the rest of the case filings?
Grand jury not told all the facts about ex-cop’s death, judge rules
By Kim Smith
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
The case against two men accused of killing a former Oro Valley police
officer was thrown out Wednesday after a Pima County judge decided the
grand jurors who indicted them didn’t have the full story.
Superior Court Judge Howard Hantman told prosecutor Dan Nicolini on
Wednesday that if his office wants to try Gerardo Roberto Zepeda and
Kevin Friedenstab in the slaying of Terry Izzo, 43, the case against
them will have to be taken back to a grand jury.
Izzo’s body was found on Aug. 29 inside a friend’s mobile home near
West Fort Lowell and North Flowing Wells roads. Zepeda, 41, and
Friedenstab, 48, were each indicted on a first-degree murder charge
in September based on the testimony of a Tucson Police Department
According to court documents, defense attorney Brick Storts asked
Hantman to dismiss the case against Zepeda, claiming the detective
left out information that could have led the grand jury to believe
someone other than Zepeda committed the crime. Friedenstab’s attorney,
Richard Parrish, filed a motion agreeing with Storts.
According to court documents, Zepeda and Friedenstab were arrested
after Izzo’s friend told detectives that he saw the pair beating Izzo
up and Zepeda threatened him with a gun and told him to “go about his
What the detective didn’t tell the grand jurors was that the friend is
a drug dealer, that his home had been raided by police a few weeks
before the slaying, and that the friend had been robbed several times
in the past, Storts said. The grand jurors also weren’t told that the
friend stayed with the body for two nights before the police were
If the grand jurors had been told any of that, Storts argued, the
grand jury might have questioned the friend’s credibility and decided
someone else could have killed Izzo. Storts said the detective
also purposely downplayed the fact that the friend initially lied
to police, saying he’d been bound, gagged, beaten up and raped
by the same people who he contended had killed Izzo.
“The grand jury was left with only half the story and half the facts,”
Storts argued in his motion. “The detective and the deputy county
attorney glazed over unfavorable facts, if they were presented at
On Wednesday afternoon, Nicolini said he intends to present the case
again by the end of next week. Izzo, who had methamphetamine
and cocaine in his system, was found with an electrical cord wrapped
twice around his face and a similar cord around his wrists and ankles.
He also suffered cuts, scrapes andbruises to his head and body.
Izzo was with the Oro Valley Police Department from December 1983 to
October 1988, when he resigned, according to Arizona Daily Star
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsm…@azstarnet.com.
Supreme Court to hear ID-theft case
Illegal immigrants facing more serious charges with use of new law
by Mark Sherman – Feb. 23, 2009 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON – Ignacio Carlos Flores-Figueroa, an undocumented worker from Mexico, made a curious and undeniably bad decision. After working under an assumed name for six years, he decided to use his real name and exchanged one set of phony identification numbers for another.
The change made his employer suspicious, and the authorities were called in. The old numbers were made up, but the new ones he bought happened to belong to real people. Federal prosecutors said that was enough to label Flores-Figueroa an identity thief.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on prosecutors’ aggressive use of a new law that was intended to strengthen efforts to combat identity theft. In at least hundreds of cases last year, workers accused of immigration violations found themselves facing the more serious identity-theft charge as well, without any indication they knew their counterfeit Social Security and other identification numbers belonged to actual people and were not made up.
The government has used the charge, which carries a mandatory two-year minimum prison term, to persuade people to plead guilty to the lesser immigration charges and accept prompt deportation. Many of those undocumented workers had been arrested in immigration raids.
The case hinges on how the justices resolve this question: Does it matter whether someone using a phony ID knows that it belongs to someone else?
The government, backed by victim-rights groups, says no. The “havoc wrecked on the victim’s life is the same either way,” said Stephen Masterson, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, in his brief for the victim-rights groups.
On the other side, Flores-Figueroa and more than 20 immigrant-rights groups, defense lawyers and privacy experts say that the law Congress passed in 2004 was aimed at the identity thief who gains access to people’s private information to drain their accounts and run up bills in their name. Surveys estimate that more than 8 million people in the United States are victims of identity theft each year.
Flores-Figueroa acknowledges he used fraudulent documents to get and keep his job at a steel plant in East Moline, Ill. But he “had no intention of stealing anyone’s identity,” his lawyers said in their brief to the court. He traveled to Chicago and bought numbers from someone who trades in counterfeit IDs.
Had he been caught while using the fictitious name and numbers that went with it, he could not have been charged with the more serious offense.
Federal appeals courts in St. Louis, which ruled against Flores-Figueroa, Atlanta and Richmond, Va., have come down on the government’s side. Appeals courts based in Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have ruled for defendants.
The government’s use of identity-theft charges in immigration cases was on full display in last year’s raid on a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. Authorities charged 270 undocumented workers with identity theft, including its threat of two years in prison.
Chuck Roth, litigation director for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, called the charge “a bludgeon” that was intended to elicit guilty pleas to lesser charges. Roth’s group joined one of the briefs supporting Flores-Figueroa.
All 270 workers accepted plea deals in which they also agreed not to contest deportation.
An additional 100 workers arrested in the same raid were using unassigned numbers and faced charges with little prospect of prison time.