- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Michael Kiefer
Wednesday, Jul. 12, 2006 at 5:34 AM
The courts may not agree with Sheriff Joe and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas imaginary law that you can conspire to smuggle yourself into the USA.
The state's first trial charging undocumented immigrants with conspiracy to commit human smuggling may come to an abrupt end today for lack of evidence.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys traded arguments Monday in the trial of a Mexican national accused of being a "coyote," or human smuggler, and two others accused of conspiring with him to enter the state illegally from Mexico.
The trial tests Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' contention that the people being smuggled can be charged with conspiracy to commit human smuggling under Arizona's unique "coyote" law.
The trial is scheduled to continue until Thursday. But the question posed Monday is whether the state has sufficient evidence to continue past today. If not, the judge may throw out the charges against the defendants.
Both alleged conspirators made incriminating statements to Border Patrol agents and Maricopa County sheriff's deputies at the scene of their arrests March 2.
But under court rules, for those statements to be admitted as evidence, there must be a body of evidence independent of the statements to show that a crime took place.
Twice on Monday, Judge Thomas O'Toole of Maricopa County Superior Court said there was not.
And whether the supposed coyote's admissions to a grand jury can be allowed into evidence will be the subject of debate this morning.
Javier Ruiz Lopez, 33, is charged with human smuggling; Antonio Hernandez Lopez, 19, and Gustavo Urbalejo Gomez, 29, are charged with conspiracy to commit human smuggling.
Of the 54 suspected undocumented immigrants arrested March 2, five were never charged, 12 have had charges dismissed and 29 have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and been returned to their native countries. Eight decided to go to trial, including the three on trial now. The rest are scheduled for trials on Aug. 1 and 11.
"These three defendants agreed to form a smuggling group," Deputy County Attorney David Rodriguez said in his opening statements. "But for their wanting to cross into the United States, this crime would not have been committed."
Ruiz, he said, was "leading a caravan into the desert" and all were "violating processes of the United States."
But that statement went to the heart of an ongoing debate in the case: whether the Arizona law against human smuggling is pre-empted by federal immigration law.
"This case is not about failure to comply with the legal processes of the United States," said Adrian Fontes, who represents Ruiz. "There is not federal seal in this courtroom. This is an Arizona state case."
The state's strongest witness is the sheriff's deputy who detained the three defendants and 51 others March 2 on a remote desert road in the westernmost part of Maricopa County.
Deputy George Burke, a 15-year veteran of the office, took the stand Monday to describe how he was making a once-weekly patrol of Hyder Gasline Road, a seldom-used dirt track, when he spotted two vans pulling on to the road from the desert. Both vans turned and went in the opposite direction when they saw Burke and then pulled off the bigger road.
Burke became even more suspicious when he noted that one of the vans bore the logo of an American furniture company but had Sonoran license plates.
He detained the occupants for an hour and a half as he waited for other deputies and Border Patrol agents to arrive. The Sheriff's Office then decided to charge them under the Arizona human-smuggling laws.
Thomas believes that the people being smuggled can be charged with conspiracy.
The Sheriff's Office has arrested about 250 people under the human-smuggling law.
According to the office's analysis, the typical undocumented immigrant arrested by deputies is a 20-something male who planned to find work in California. The majority of suspects originated from areas south of Mexico City and had never tried to cross the border before, the study said.
Even if O'Toole throws out the charges in the current trial, it will not necessarily set a precedent for other cases.
"Trials don't set precedents," Arizona State University law Professor Paul Bender said. "It's just that judge in that trial. Precedents are points of law."
However, the next two trials related to the same arrest, and the same set of facts is scheduled before O'Toole.
Attorneys representing some of the remaining defendants plan to file a special action in the Arizona Court of Appeals, claiming that Thomas' interpretation of the conspiracy laws are incorrect and that the prosecution of undocumented immigrants is pre-empted by federal law.
If the Appeals Court were to accept jurisdiction, its decision either way would set legal precedent.
Staff reporters Lindsey Collom and Richard Ruelas contributed to this article.
Report this post as:
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights
What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It
Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down
Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29
Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf
Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development
Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine
Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents
Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters
City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre
Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling
Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present
Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police
LA Times Homicide Report
More Local News...
Doxa du lobby
Tech workers organize
Architect Stephen Francis Jones
UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis Islands Call for
Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats
What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress??
Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée
The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion
Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service
The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally!
The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder
Paraphysique de la dictature étatique
Book Review: "The New Bonapartists"
The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia
Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine
The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally!
“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize!
The World Dependent on Central Banks
Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine
March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update
Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel
ICE contract with license plate reader company
Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes
Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges
Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes
More Breaking News...