Nearly 20 Court Deputies Call in Sick in Wake of Fellow Officer's Jailing

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On Wednesday, the morning after a sheriff’s detention officer reported to jail to serve a contempt of court sentence, 20 of his colleagues called in sick for work at the Maricopa County Superior Court Buildings in Phoenix.

Those same buildings were evacuated for three hours Wednesday morning when a bomb threat was called in targeting public defenders, the Arizona Republic reported.

Stoddard was found in contempt of court for his actions Oct. 19, when he walked across a courtroom behind public defender Joanne Cuccia and removed a document from her files, then had another officer make a copy. The incident, which drew national attention, was captured on court surveillance video. Stoddard was subsequently ordered to publicly apologize to Cuccia or face jail.

Stoddard reported to the Maricopa County jail at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The Republic said that Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe’s order requires that Stoddard stay in jail until he’s “purged himself of his contempt.” Stoddard plans to appeal.

Arpaio said neither the absentee rate nor the bomb threat were related to Stoddard’s sentence, but said he does “have a political prisoner in jail who happens to be my detention officer.”

But Deputy Sean Pearce said that the absences sent “a message.” Pearce is a representative from the Deputies Law Enforcement Association. “This officer has integrity … Why should he apologize for doing his job?”

Criminal Court Administrator Bob James told the Republic that 140 defendants were not delivered to court because of the sick calls, causing many to spend another day in jail.

Additional coverage:

Heat City: “In shadow of courthouse, officers tell judge to let their colleague go”

Updated at 5:08 p.m. to add link to Heat City post.

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