Friday, March 7, 2008

Jail Budget Problems And The Right To Counsel

As a result of budget problems, the Maricopa County Sheriff announced a new set of limitations on privileged visitation hours (visits by attorneys, legal staff and probation officers) with jail inmates. The public defender challenged the limitations as an infringement on the right to counsel for inmates awaiting trial. The judge who heard the public defender's challenges ordered injunctive relief and directed the Sheriff to participate in mediation. On appeal, the Court of Appeal of Arizona, Division One, held that the judge had the authority to hold joint hearings in several matters to consider whether the policy violated the Sixth Amendment. However, the judge exceeded her authority by ordering injunctive, class action type relief without reference to individual circumstances. Any injunctive relief must be "narrowly tailored as as not to infringe on the Sheriff's authority." Finally, the judge did not have the authority to compel the Sheriff to participate in arbitration. (Mike Frisch)

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