Tuesday, July 10, 2007

County Attorney Dismisses Prop 100 Special Actions

Good news since the governor was forced to sign the Prop. 100 bill -

Victories in Court and at Capitol Eliminate Need for Continued Litigation

In the wake of new legislation signed by the governor and new rules governing Proposition 100 issued by the state’s highest court, the County Attorney’s Office has dismissed special actions filed with the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals. County Attorney Andrew Thomas expressed his confidence that the legislation and court rules should bring Maricopa County courts into compliance with Proposition 100, eliminating the need for the special actions. As a result, it is anticipated that illegal immigrants accused of serious felonies in Maricopa County now will be held without bond.

On July 2, Governor Janet Napolitano signed Senate Bill 1265. This new law established probable cause as the standard for determining a defendant’s immigration status. The bill also mandated that eligibility for bail be determined at the time of the defendant’s initial appearance. This legislation was designed to ensure full judicial compliance with Proposition 100, which was approved by 78 percent of Arizona voters in 2006 and which ended the right to bail for illegal immigrants accused of serious felonies.

On July 3, the Arizona Supreme Court announced modifications the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. These changes, made effective immediately, implemented the probable cause standard and initial appearance requirements of Senate Bill 1265. The new rules ended the so-called Simpson hearings, which were previously held to determine a defendant’s release status under Proposition 100. A recent study by the County Attorney’s Office under the old rules showed that 94 percent of illegal immigrants were being granted bail or release at Simpson hearings by Maricopa County judges and judicial officers.

The new legislation and the supreme court rule changes ensure a probable cause standard applies when determining a defendant’s immigration status. Previously, the courts applied a standard of “proof evident or presumption great.” County courts were interpreting this standard so narrowly that confessions from illegal immigrant defendants were not considered sufficient evidence for these defendants to be denied bail or release.

“By dismissing our special action requests, I am expressing hope and confidence that Prop 100 now will become a reality in our county court system,” said Thomas. “Given the recent actions by all three branches of state government to address these matters, I do not see the need to burden the Arizona Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals with litigation prompted by the county courts’ former noncompliance.”

For more information contact:
Mike Anthony Scerbo, Public Information Officer
(602) 506-3170 (office) or (602) 489-6913 (cell)

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