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A day at 4th Ave Jail, Meeting with Cty Attorney Montgomery., two judges, etc.
09-25-2017, 07:19 PM (This post was last modified: 09-25-2017 08:32 PM by davephx.)
Post: #1
A day at 4th Ave Jail, Meeting with Cty Attorney Montgomery., two judges, etc.
There were 12 of us that took part in the MCAO Citizens Academy which is offered monthly.

I asked a few questions especially to some judges related to sexwork cases but without referring to them or their nature directly. As always I argue the law is the bad issue, and our conservative jury's in Phoenix - which a defense attorney agreed in a discussion in the group with the judge in her court (more later). Everyone including Montgomery was very sharp and open to any questions the group had. (Later on Montgomery)

The Day:
At 8:30 AM met in the County Attorney's office on the 8th floor where breakfast was served. Overview of the day given and questions. Was a very nice group of mostly older men, women and a younger gal from Pakistan. The Maricopa county attorneys office is the 3rd largest in the U.S. behind LA and Chicago.

8:50 AM Walked a few blocks for 4th Ave jail tour. A male and female very nice talkative guards met us and showed us the intake room with all the different agency desks lined up where those arrested go and then get their mug shot. Then area where take clothing off and take cold showers and get their striped clothes. Some stink bad, so they use lots of sprays to cover the bad smell. Then went into holding area which was the most surprising how inhumane it was. Had rooms with 30 arrested mostly laying on the floor, some screaming, etc. In a women's cell one women was constantly screaming and crying. They also get a medical assessment and if a risk to self or others are put into isolation cells.

The infamous pink underwear is going to be changed to orange - showed examples. New jail will be far easier to process and more humane will open in the Durango complex in about two years.The new processing unit will be more like at DMV where sit in jails until your number is called, they then begin the processing vs. just tossing in holding cells for a long time. The current jail simply cannot handle the average 250 arrestees a day they get without the group holding "tanks" or areas.... "community rooms." The new jail will include 1280 beds with a separate 512-bed unit for stays of 72 hours or less. Tent City is now closed and destroyed.

Guards commented that they get real busy with weird people whenever there is a full moon. The eclipse brought in an even larger number of weirdos.

When someone is released, they are screened for their immigration status. If they are not in the U.S legally, ICE officers will take them into custody.

I asked since they take all your property and clothing if you have a friend to call for bail or your lawyer can you have access to their phone to get the number off of it? Yes, you can't take the phone, but you can look up the number and call from the jail phones. - which tells the caller the call is from the jail from an inmate.

Spent about half an hour in the initial appearance court you often see on TV with the two jail guards who answered many questions and talked about their experiences with different inmates etc. You have to have initial appearance within 24 hours with the court holding session every 3? hours. We were in the court between sessions. I asked if what we see on TV is from the court camera feeds not local TV - yes. There is also a public viewing room with live feed the public can watch anytime.

One of our group referred to the holding pens as "community rooms" - the jail guy liked the term. It was agreed the food was "slop" hard for even the jail guards to explain. After the initial appearance if held over before transfer to regular jail, move them upstairs to holding cells that have a mattress instead of having to sleep if overnight on the hard floors of the "community rooms." There are benches, but with 30 to a room many wind up having to sit or lay on the floor. Looking into the community rooms via glass was kind of watching animals in a zoo. This is before they have been formally charged with any crime, just arrested based on probable cause by the police.

I asked about protocol when a panic alarm button is set off by a judge or court workers. I observed this in the Goddess case where deputies came in trying to figure out who accidentally hit the panic button. The court security office is notified, and they have a live camera feed from the court so they can see what is going on. In the Goddess case would have been obviously no emergency all was normal so just two court security folks came in to find the accidental trip and reset it. If there were a major problem, of course, lots of guards and police would have come if needed from the jail. Guards do not carry weapons (so won't be taken by arrestees, just stun guns.

At 10 AM South Court Tower - built for the next 100 years of increasing population and the underground system to transport from 4th Ave Jail to court so defendants won't interact with victims as in the prior courthouse.

Sat in three courtrooms with plea deals for a drug case and brother who stabbed and seriously wounded another brother (sentenced under a plea deal to 3 years in prison on the plea agreement. Between cases, all three judges talked to our group and opened to the many questions from our group. All three seemed very sharp, and one (Grandville?) came down from the bench and stood with us directly. He also discussed a plea deal with a defendant coming down off the bench and just talking to him in front of the defendant's table. Very down to earth explaining the charges etc. These were all on the 3rd floor RBC courts for more rapid dispositions from plea deals vs. 5th floor where I sat in on the Phoenix Goddess Temple hearings and trial. Ironically the guy that stabbed his brother who had very serious injuries (showed us pictures of him in ICU) got less jail time than Tracy of Goddess temple with no victims and all private consenting adults.

Thinking of the Goddess case, I asked one judge if there was a case where you believe the law is on your side, but you don't trust the typical conservative Phoenix jury's, could you demand a bench trial, etc. She deferred to two defense lawyers who were in the court waiting for the next case. The older lawyer said yes, but he had great faith in the jury system. The 2nd attorney (younger) agreed with the conservative jury issue and conservative political situation and would consult with a client but could see where a bench trial could be a better option. I believe the Goddess Tempe case had the law on their side, but no hope with a Phoenix jury (now at Appeals but been a year of delays getting transcripts filed and now another continuance just to get to opening briefs).

I asked another judge that maybe she can't comment, but any views on her lack of options especially go to below the minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines perhaps where she thought the jury might have gotten it wrong or for a nondrug crime with no victims that 4.5 years for certain felonies was too harsh (Goddess Temple case). As I suspected she nicely said she really could not give a personal opinion but had to follow the law as it is.

Noon - returned to County Attorney office where nice lunch provided and discussion of various crimes. Arizona and Maricopa County is enjoying a 50 year low in crime rates due largely to the older population that is less likely to commit crimes and a huge decline in vehicle thefts with modern car technology making cars harder to steal (if locked).

1 PM - Met with heads of forensic team that also prepares trial exhibits in their lab in the basement. Very interesting how to recreate 3D images of crime scenes showing examples from cases. One had an art/graphics background and the other medical working at a cranial center etc. Walked us thru the case of a young girl killed and years later found part of her skull in the desert. DNA led to suspect but claimed died of accident and just illegally disposed of the body in the desert a minor crime compared to murder. The defense argues fractures in the skull were postmortem (after death) but were proven wrong that with how the fractures fanned out was from a "wet brain" (living) blow.

Forensics also does 3D printing making models of knives and guns used in crimes since the real weapon cannot be in court to examine other than thru a sealed evidence bag (so no one can grab it and attack someone in the court).

2 PM - The entire MCAO "cold case" unit met with us (only 2 and another detective). They get referrals from various police agencies often when a lead investigator retires or run out of leads - no witness or investigators still alive from old cases etc. They are working about 50 cold cases now. New DNA technology has often lead to new arrests. As I recall they had opened and closed about 20 cases in the last year or so, with seven convictions from old cold cases.

They walked through in detail one case of a child who was beaten by parents, put in a cage, barely fed, starved to death and was left in the desert in 1997. Family members knew about it and a Mexican nanny but when the husband went to prison on drug charges they thought police knew about the murder. Long, sad story. The child was "not theirs" because resulted from a MCSO deputy who had connections with a drug cartel. The family didn't consider the child human due to the LE connection. Long, complex story and conviction after 20+ years are reported at The two cold case investigators in the article is who met with us.

3 PM - Long time deputy county attorney discussed in great detail with us participating after giving an extensive "incident review" report of what could be charged with 2nd-degree murder, manslaughter or self-defense related to a road rage incident. The study had the police report, crime pictures, etc. He had us recreate the scene from the report. The younger Pakistan gal was the car driver. Very comprehensive analysis step by step of arguments of different charges or self-defense.

This is an example of what the county attorney's do when trying to decide how to charge a case of not when it is not clear. They would get 12 attorneys and have the case presented and discussed the evidence for different charges. See later Montgomery also discussed with me since I was only 2 of 12 that voted for self-defense. I commented to the attorney that you wouldn't want me on your jury. He said "I have HAD you on my juries too many times," jokingly.

4 PM - Lots of discussion with Maricopa County Attorney Montgomery.
While I disagree with most of his conservative politics, he is very sharp, and we had a great interaction with him for about an hour answering and discussing many questions and concerns. I would have wanted to discuss with him the "pretend victim" issues and going after "morality crimes" and long prison sentences and abuse of "Donald Advisements" with 40 years in prison potential to scare the 38 in the Goddess case to take pleas. The leader didn't plead and got 4.5 yrs in prison, for non-drug, private consenting adult with no victims, longer than many violent assault cases, but I refrained!

Someone asked how he would have charged the case we just studied. He asked how we voted and got into a discussion with me since I was only 2 of 12 that voted for not charging based on self-defense. He then asked me if he added two more facts to the case would I change my vote. I replied that would make self-defense harder to justify. Montgomery said this is the situation faced in recent cases, and yet he didn't charge even with the added facts for charging since he concluded it was not likely he could get a jury to convict. This supported by self-defense view!

He made the point many times that the police can charge based on probable cause, but his office has a much higher bar when deciding whether to charge or indict. Not only must there be probable cause but also, the likelihood the prosecutor could win at a trial based on the evidence.

He also pointed out that 95% of those in prison are either convicted of violent crimes or repeat offenders. Tell that to all the sexworkers in prison for in private, consenting adult no victim, not drug-related crimes but the crime of sexual expression.
At the end, we had a group picture taken with Montgomery that was sent to all of us.

Conclusion- A very excellent long day with some very intelligent crime fighters even if disagree with certain laws related to sexwork.

The next dates are Oct19 and Nov 9th. Applications are due two weeks before the class dates. Information at

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