The Daily Agenda: A lawsuit against a journalist fails
You can't take Dave Biscobing down that easy ... We already have anti-abortion laws on the books ... And we need to know what's on Doug's playlist.
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The City of Phoenix launched a “retaliatory” and ultimately failed legal crusade to force ABC 15 reporter Dave Biscobing to turn over raw footage of interviews with a grandmother who was wrongly convicted of a felony and served two years in prison.
The grandmother, Frances Salazar, was convicted of possessing a crack pipe with some crack in it based solely on the testimony of one Phoenix cop who had a history of lying. She is now suing the City of Phoenix and the Maricopa County Prosecutor’s Office.
Back in 2013, Salazar was a passenger in a borrowed car when Phoenix police officer Anthony Armour Jr. pulled the driver over. Amour claimed Salazar admitted the pipe he found stuck between the seats was hers, though Salazar said she didn’t admit it. Amour wasn’t wearing a body camera.
Salazar had a history of drug problems and the jury believed the cop’s version of events, despite the owner of the car testifying that the pipe was his.
Biscobing covered Salazar’s case as part of his exceptional “Full Disclosure” investigative series, in which he showed how police and prosecutors routinely fail to disclose that police officers were on the “Brady List,” a registry of cops with histories of misconduct.
In Amour’s case, he was placed on the list for unlawfully entering a woman’s apartment, falsely arresting her, lying to his supervisor and in his incident report, then arresting the woman even after his supervisor told him not to. He has been internally investigated at least 15 times since 2010, has been involved in two shootings and faced multiple claims that he sexually assaulted people, Biscobing reported.
Not only did prosecutors not disclose those violations as required, they attempted to bury the fact that Amour was on the Brady List, as Biscobing found out.
So the City of Phoenix subpoenaed Biscobing for his “full and complete” recordings of interviews with Salazar or her lawyers.
Journalists are afforded a level of legal protection from turning over notes or recordings, except in rare circumstances, because of a host of First Amendment cases, federal law and even Arizona law, as attorney David Bodney, who represented ABC 15, successfully argued. Tellingly, the city didn’t attempt to subpoena other media who interviewed Salazar.
The City of Phoenix’s subpoena seems purely retaliatory against the investigative reporter after his “negative stories” have repeatedly shown Phoenix Police abusing their power.
Where’d all the money go, Doug?: The Arizona Senate may use legislative privilege as a claim to withhold public records only for some communications about future bills they may run, a judge ruled Tuesday in an ongoing lawsuit where the state and Cyber Ninjas, the audit contractor, are trying to keep records from the public. Cyber Ninjas, meanwhile, claimed it can’t afford to comply with court orders that call for records to be released, the Associated Press reports.
They’re supposed to go to weed users, not weed dealers: The court cases against Arizona’s recreational marijuana equity licenses are moving ahead and plaintiffs in the cases want the Department of Health Services to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the rules for the last 26 marijuana licenses in Arizona, saying the current rules will benefit rich dispensary owners rather than communities that were harmed by the War on Pot, the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo reports. A judge decided against issuing a temporary injunction on the department accepting applications, so people can now apply.
Maybe just run for school board?: Republican candidates at every level are inserting themselves into local education controversies, as they see education battles as the key to the electorate in 2022, the Republic’s Stacey Barchenger writes.
The 9th Floor @9thFloorAZGov. @dougducey today will light the Arizona State Capitol Christmas tree, a majestic 25-foot white pine from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest 🎄 https://t.co/W2NSwDGcrF
Bring it back: The Buckhorn Baths Motel, a time capsule of a property that’s been vacant for quite some time but still stands as a monument of sorts in Mesa, could be restored and reopened someday. A developer that bought the hotel site wants to build apartments nearby and use the income to restore the hotel, the Republic’s Joshua Bowling reports.
Oh, the drama: Former Senate President and SB 1070 sponsor Russell Pearce and some other Maricopa County Republican Party members want to censure three state representatives — Joel John, Joanne Osborne and Michelle Udall — because they voted against school voucher expansion, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda reports. Udall, who’s also a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, is the subject of a second county party resolution that takes aim at her record on education issues.
We don’t want to have to write about you getting rescued someday: A woman who went spinning around in a rescue basket after a helicopter rescued her from a hiking injury will be paid $450,000 by the City of Phoenix to settle a lawsuit she brought against the city over injuries from the rescue. Video of the rescue went viral in 2019. And as a perpetual reminder, it’s still weirdly hot here for this time of year, so here’s how to avoid needing a mountain rescue.
Struggling for a pithy comment here: Ryan Remington, a Tucson Police officer, shot a man in a wheelchair nine times from behind, killing the man, which was captured on video. The man was suspected of stealing an item from Walmart and had a knife, though was killed in a nearby Lowe’s parking lot. Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said the department started the process to fire Remington, the Arizona Daily Star’s Edward Celaya reports.
“To be very clear, I am deeply disturbed and troubled by Officer Remington’s actions. His use of deadly force in this incident is a clear violation of department policy,” Magnus said.
More mapping coming soon: The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is wrapping up its statewide comment tour and will soon start meeting to discuss what it learned from public commenters. The commission will likely discuss their strategy first before diving into changes to maps, the Republic’s Ray Stern reports.
Paying homage to the shrine of low taxes: A host of Republican lawmakers are in San Diego picking up tricks, tips and model legislation at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference. “Audit queen” Karen Fann installed as the new head of the conservative organization — declaring she wants to “move forward,” presumably meaning forward to the 2020 election again. If any of our San Diego readers spot a Zonie lawmaker wandering around, please send us pics.
More money for the backbone of America: The City of Phoenix has another $8 million in grants available from federal pandemic relief dollars to give away to small businesses that meet certain requirements, like losing some revenues during COVID-19, KJZZ’s Christina Estes reports.
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Since the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over a Mississippi anti-abortion law in a challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, we wanted to point out an Arizona law that could be revived in the event Roe is overturned. AZ Law, a legal blog, pointed out that Arizona statutes include a currently unenforceable abortion law: Arizona statutes say that anyone who provides an abortion to a pregnant woman, unless it’s a life-saving measure, could be imprisoned for two to five years. Several other states have similar laws on the books, too. Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer has a rundown of Gov. Doug Ducey’s comments on Roe and what could happen here if it’s overturned.
It’s that time of year. The Capitol Christmas tree is finally in place, and we’re all asking the same question: What’s on Gov. Doug Ducey’s annual Spotify Wrapped playlist? We don’t know the answer, but we want to know. Ducey’s office — can you help us out? It feels like he’s a Springsteen guy. Maybe Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Frank Sinatra? Probably not Ted Nugent but maybe Alice Cooper, hits only. Perhaps we can send in a public records request, but we don’t want to go through formalities here. We just want to know what’s on the gubernatorial end-of-year playlist. (Rachel listened to too much Olivia Rodigo, and Hank refuses to update the app and wouldn’t tell you what he’s listening to anyway.)