Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 14, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists' Roundtable


  • Don’t miss Friday’s weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week’s top stories.
Guests:
  • Richard Ruelas - Arizona Republic


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday, July 14, 2006. In the headlines this week, another immigration march today in phoenix, this one a lot smaller and more targeted than those in past months. Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon was among the city officials addressing a large gathering of residents Wednesday night at a community forum on the search for two serial killers. And one week after petitions were filled for a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in Arizona, a legal challenge has been filed to keep it off the ballot. That's next on "horizon."

Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. And this is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Richard Ruelas of the Arizona republic, Paul Giblin of the east valley tribune, and Howie Fischer of capitol media services.

Michael Grant:
The battle over illegal immigration played out this week in a Maricopa county superior courtroom and the streets of phoenix. In the aftermath of a criminal smuggling trial, about 300 residents marched in downtown phoenix this morning to protest the prosecution of undocumented immigrants. Richard, what happened at the protest today?

Richard Ruelas:
Well, the guy who organized the march and organized the first of the two big protest marches this year got on his knees and told Joe Arpaio you are our hero, we love you, please stop prosecuting these people. It seemed to take him back a bit because I think he was expecting anger and not love and he expressed compassion back. He said I'm torn. I'm handcuffed. This is my job and I have to do my job. Phoenix police, Tempe police, mesa police are not making this choice. They see that arresting these people stuck in the back of the van are not their job but still sheriff Joe got his bluster back and as cameras surround him and he vowed to arrest even more. Interesting about the protest is they are saying don't arrest any more, we don't want them in jail. The trial kind of showed this might be a moot thing anyway. Might not be worth arresting.

Michael Grant:
See if we can construct this because it is kind of tough. Go to judge O'toole's courtroom before the trial begins. He rules that this is an appropriate theory under the statute. It is a felony to conspire to smuggle. You can charge both the smuggler and the smugglee.

Howard Fischer:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Howard Fischer:
Yes, but he also cautioned at the time you are going to need some evidence. He says the law is broad and acknowledged that the sponsors of the law, Jonathan Payton and Tim Ves did not intend, the plain black and white language says you can charge the smuggler and anyone else that were accomplices but he says make sure there is the evidence there. That is where the problem is. This was the case that came up where it was a smuggler and two, as you put it, smugglees.
After the state put on its case there was a motion to have it thrown out by the defense and the judge said you bet. He said you cannot sustain a conviction directly on their statements. They did confess hi, I'm so and so. I'm here illegally; I paid money to get into the United States, no question. But the law says you can't do it strictly on a confession and the reason for that is so that you don't have police beating confessions out of people without real evidence.

Richard Ruelas:
The first seems to be the judge saying give it a shot. He gave them a roadmap saying you have to show evidence of an agreement between the guy in the back and guy driving.

Paul Giblin:
What more do they need, a signed and written receipt? The confession isn't enough, what more do you need?

Richard Ruelas:
You need to show there was a crime and they needed to show that the guys in the back at some point had some communication with the guy driving and there was no evidence to show that. There were circumstances.

Michael Grant:
What they know is they have a van on this side of the border with three illegals in it.

Richard Ruelas:
Actually had 48. These are the first three charged.

Michael Grant:
Three charged illegals in it, obviously one of them driving, two being smuggled. They don't even know that much. And there is a presumption or the prosecution would have tried to argue that there is a presumption, well, hold it; they must have tried to come across the border. The judge is saying you have to have --

Richard Ruelas:
They didn't have t-shirts saying I crossed the border and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. A guy with 48 people in the back and a guy driving and water bottles. The judge ruled that is enough to charge the smuggler. You have a human smuggling operation. I think you can prove that case. He said you don't have enough evidence to show a conspiracy. You don't have enough evidence to show that the cargo are the people who arranged to commit the crime. It could be that my uncle if I'm in the back, my uncle paid and conspired with the driver to smuggle me across. I'm just the guy sitting in the back committing no crime.

Michael Grant:
Paul is clearly struggling with that concept.

Paul Giblin:
That is a lawyer's point of view. That makes no sense. Then you would have to charge the uncle for kidnapping the guy in the back of the truck.

Richard Ruelas:
Charge the uncle with the conspiracy to commit smuggling and if they can prove I went unwillingly charge him with kidnapping. The county attorney thinks he can bring more cases. There are games you can play to try to get one to stick.

Paul Giblin:
That comes back to the original question. What is good enough for the judge to prove that these guys are involved?

Howard Fischer:
Again, part of, you know, what is being said here is that because you can't appeal this jeopardizes attach and you can't retry the people. On the next case and they are still defendants in the next particular arrest wants to do an offer of proof to the judge. Get a pre-trial ruling is this enough to go ahead and give you what they call the corpus, the corpus electi, the body of the crime to allow prosecution. The judge will probably rule no, in which case he takes it to the court of appeals and we may have case law. You may be right. Andy Thomas' argument is circumstantial is enough. On a dirt road little used 50-miles from the border in a known area for smuggling and that should be enough.

Paul Giblin:
And then ask them for the Arizona driver's license and they don't have a license and they aren't speaking English.

Howard Fischer:
What does that prove?

Paul Giblin:
When they are Mexican citizens.

Richard Ruelas:
That is not proof.

Michael Grant:
Isn't there a charge like intentional overloading of a van?

Howard Fischer:
Could be a seatbelt violation. It is a secondary enforcement on seatbelts. They have to pull them over for something else in the first place.

Michael Grant:
Just goes around and around and around. Go back to Joe Arpaio. I understand there is some strange thing going on with a west valley small publication called west valley view.

Paul Giblin:
Not that strange. Well, not any stranger than Joe is normally. Joe Arpaio sends press releases quite literally to everyone in the world. I got a call from this French news agency asking me to go cover this event in phoenix where Joe Arpaio was having his chain gang. I said I would be happy to cover this but how did you hear about it. They said Joe sent press releases. When he is not busy writing press releases about himself, he is supposed to enforce crime and crime prevention. The west valley view is a nice little newspaper, I and want to let people know what is happening in the community. Joe doesn't like them and stopped giving them press releases. West valley view where he is actually doing law enforcement doesn't. They asked the sheriff's department give us the press releases so we know what you are doing, and he said no and he made them file a records request for it and go downtown and that sort of thing. So the west valley view took him to court and beat him quite soundly.

Michael Grant:
The judge basically saying, don't force them through all these stupid hoops.

Richard Ruelas:
Except the judge couldn't make them actually send.

Paul Giblin:
E-mail.

Richard Ruelas:
There is still something that they have to schlep to and take back. The judge did say by not putting them on your e-mail list it is petty.

Paul Giblin:
This is the guy that shows up at the pink taco restaurant opening to hawk his pink underwear. Has plenty of time for that, but doesn't have time to tell the west valley view what he is doing in the community.

Howard Fischer:
Good thoughts will be rewarded and bad thoughts will be rewarded, I am Sheriff Joe and I make it so.

Michael Grant:
You were at the community meeting Wednesday night. Several hundred people there.

Paul Giblin:
About 1500 people. An elementary school. It was supposed to happen in an auditorium and that was overflowed. They put more in the cafeteria and that was overflowed. They put more in and that was overflowed. They wanted to talk about the baseline killer these days and also the serial shooter who goes by sometimes the random shooter and sometimes the central shooter as well. These are two people that are just killing people.

Michael Grant:
One of the developments this week was at one time they thought there might be two serial shooters and now they at least -- they haven't completely ruled that out, but they say that the pattern, the course, the timing is leading them to think that there is only one.

Paul Giblin:
Well, one guy who is called a shooter. That is not to discount the baseline murderer.

Michael Grant:
Right, yeah.

Paul Giblin:
Who is also a shooter.

Michael Grant:
But at one time they thought there might be two shooters and seem to be narrowing to just one shooter on that crime spree.

Paul Giblin:
Right.

Howard Fischer:
Maybe I have been watching too many CSI episodes. You look back east and you get six or seven shootings and the whole community knows. Why did it take over 30 incidents if you have forensics and bullets and cartridges and a mode of operation, why did it take so long to connect the dots? That is what a lot of the community folks are asking.

Richard Ruelas:
It is not so much connecting dots. In the stories about them we knew that there was a baseline rapist or baseline killer and knew there were a couple of serial shooters. It took someone and just shows the power of the media still has to put it together and shake everybody and say look, there is three people out here. The difference is that the media is really focused this week on this issue.

Michael Grant:
And that was my question. I thought they had connected the dots. My question was more, well; this has been going on for 14 months.

Richard Ruelas:
Yeah.

Michael Grant:
And what was it about the week of July 10th that made it different than the week of July 3rd.

Richard Ruelas:
It is odd to even be discussing crime on "horizon."

Michael Grant:
Sure.

Richard Ruelas:
And republican I know and probably the tribune has the same feel. You go through ebbs and flows on how you cover crime. If you put every murder and assault on the local section of the front page, people get scared and get a distorted sense of their community. I think that plays into it. We have gone to telling people about the crime but not scaring them and now we put it on the front page which has a little bit of a jolt.

Paul Giblin:
It wasn't the police who came out with this, it actually was the community. The first thing that happened was they increased the reward to $100,000. They had planned a small press conference to say, by the way, we have increased the reward. Someone asked the chief and -- I'm sorry, Kelly, help me out with his name.

Richard Ruelas:
Zack Harris.

Paul Giblin:
The commander investigating it, whose name I can't remember but I will remember as soon as we end today. He showed up and that turned into kind of a big press conference and then yesterday's meeting was a normal -- or I'm sorry, Wednesday's meeting was a normal meeting from the community and they asked the police come to our normal regular community meeting and talk to us about the crime. And the police said all right, we will show up, and then 1500 other people showed up as well. It wasn't the police bringing it to the community, it was the community asking the police what was going on.

Richard Ruelas:
And we are a city that is a little prone to falling into media hysteria. When gas was going to be scarce, we jumped at that.

Paul Giblin:
Sure.

Richard Ruelas:
So I think there is a little bit of that here. There might be a crack today because interesting today there was a guy in a Tempe jail who confessed to a crime who now phoenix police believe was committed by the baseline killer. He was to confess to the crime and now is recanting his confession. Hopefully he is telling police the links that might lead us to the actual killer linked to the others.

Michael Grant:
And there was some indication or report that I heard this afternoon that he indicated that he was with two others, one of which he really didn't know a lot. So maybe he might pass along some information about the third.

Michael Grant:
As expected, a legal challenge was filed this week against the protect marriage Arizona initiative. Opponents are trying to keep the initiative off the November ballot, claiming it violates Arizona's single subject rule. Howie, what are supporters of Arizona together saying in their lawsuit?

Howard Fischer:
Well, as you mentioned, we have talked about this almost from the time the initiative was filed. 58-word initiative that says marriage is between one man and one woman and the benefits of marriage are reserved to those. Gays can't marry is upheld by the supreme court of the United States. It would say there is no civil union is what happened in this verdict. We have no civil unions in Arizona. What it also would do -- Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson, and several other communities offer domestic partner benefits. If they have an employee and if you register the domestic partner, you get the same benefits. The argument is that there are three different levels of the support. A survey done at NAU and said 42 of those questioned support gays marrying. 53\% support civil unions and 56\% support domestic partnerships. You should not have to vote for something you don't want to get something you do. And so if it were just gay marriage would be no question about could that be on the ballot. Maybe gay marriage and civil unions, but when you trek into the area of domestic partner benefits and Tucson has a domestic partner registry now you go into another area the opponents are hoping to use that to knock it off the ballot.

Richard Ruelas:
And the judge can look at the poll numbers as part of the things --

Howard Fischer:
Certainly. And that is really the key. In order to show three separate issues, you have to have something more than I believe they are. There are certain issues where you have sections a, b and c with a measure. We said A and C are different and this knocks it off the ballot. Here, the one sentence. One, you know, 58 words but that has -- 58 words that has three separate distinct effects.

Michael Grant:
And in the past couple of election cycles, as you know, both on repeal of the income tax as well as on clean elections challenge, the court has been more vigorous on its single subject enforcement. Did they set up a briefing schedule for this? They need to get it decided fairly quickly to either confirm it or not for the ballot.

Howard Fischer:
They have set up some briefings. What they have not done is set it for an oral argument which raises the question will they decide the issue, will the judge decide the issue without an oral argument. Either way, whoever loses in this is going to end up at the state supreme court. My guess is we will have a decision perhaps late august, early September. I know that the counties would like to set up that part of the ballot earlier than that. They may have to wait.

Michael Grant:
Let's go to ballot challenges. Glen fuller is going to challenge Jeff Lake.

Paul Giblin:
He is an unknown democrat. He didn't get enough nominating signatures. He was challenged in court and lost and now he is riding into an unopposed fourth term.

Michael Grant:
Completely unopposed.

Paul Giblin:
There is no one else in that race. The interesting point is this is a race that he might have had some trouble in because when he got into office initially he gave himself a self-imposed term limit of three terms. This is his fourth. That was a good wedge issue for someone to take to voters, but he rides into office anyway.

Howard Fischer:
Are you in the district? Can you run as write in? Can we endorse you here?

Paul Giblin:
I'm not in the district.

Michael Grant:
Proving the old saw if, indeed, you don't succeed, try, try again. They tried again on Russ Jones on the senate slot. Not only did they prevail, they also got the five year ballot disqualification against him. What turned this?

Howard Fischer:
Essentially new evidence as was mentioned last week the democrats said look, Russ Jones had not signed the petition. When you put out a petition you get the names and then you sign on the back saying I was the circulator and witnessed the signatures. There was some question as to whether he witnessed them or was just in the room. The judge basically said --

Michael Grant:
I understand the basic facts there, he was up at the front of the room saying please support me and, incidentally, I'm circulating petitions and then sign them when actually other people were passing them. The judge said well, close enough.

Howard Fischer:
The problem is that this is during a regular legislative session. He signed in as being at the Arizona House of Representatives when he was supposedly according to the sworn affidavits in Yuma. And they -- the democrats came up with that and presented it to the judge and said that is sufficient new evidence to open it. And the judge made a finding of fact that, in fact, he had not witnessed the signatures and that made -- that didn't only throw out the petitions, said that made him guilty of petition forgery which threw out all of the signatures and then the judge said because he is guilty of petition forgery I'm disqualifying him from running for any office for the next five years. When the case goes to the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court accepts the facts as below that the judge concluded that in fact he was not there, I don't know what you argue. The penalty? Makes an interesting question.

Michael Grant:
Richard, there have been and there always are these kinds of arguments about petition circulation and various glitches throughout. In many ways it elevates form over substance. On the other hand, you want to make sure that you got a clean fight and you can trust the names and petitions that are being turned in.

Richard Ruelas:
Absolutely, on something like that, you know, whichever side is challenging the petition is going to say we want a fair fight and uphold the election process and fight to the right to all voters. And the candidate will say this is petty stuff, everyone does it, and my district supports me and I should have the right to do it. But this is the kind of behind the scenes stuff and I think both sides think voters will remember in November what they tried to do. I don't think they do.

Howard Fischer:
Let's assume Russ Jones stays off the ballot, it means the republicans have to scramble for a write-in candidate who has to get sufficient number of write-in votes in the primary, the same as the number of signatures. What the voters do remember if the republicans don't get anyone on the ballot, Amanda is the next senator from Yuma, period.

Paul Giblin:
You have illegals in the back of the truck who weren't actually illegal. So what is the difference if you have signatures that aren't actually signatures?

Michael Grant:
An excellent point. Thank you.

Howard Fischer:
You are also presuming that you can't be in two places at once. We can get into a great metaphysical discussion and get someone from the physics department and discuss that.

Howard Fischer:
Fundraising numbers on both sides of the United States senate campaign, Kyl and Peterson.

Paul Giblin:
Jaw dropping numbers on the U.S. senate race for the state of Arizona. The most money ever collected in Arizona by a single candidate happens to be Jon Kyl so has bagged so far, $10.4 million in the race. The most money ever collected by a democrat for any office in the state of Arizona happens to be his opponent Jim Peterson. He has collected $6 million.

Michael Grant:
So we are five months out.

Paul Giblin:
Four months out.

Michael Grant:
And have in excess of $16 million.

Paul Giblin:
$16 million. A good portion of that, $3.725 million of Peterson's money is money that he paid himself. He is a shopping mall developer and has money to burn apparently and is spending a lot of it on the race.

Howard Fischer:
Interesting to see the spin because originally Kyl sent out fundraising letters saying I have to have more money because I'm up against a very expensive campaign and meanwhile he seems to accumulate over 10 million. President Bush was here and vice president Dick Cheney. Now, the argument of the Kyl people is well, he said he was going to collect it from people other than himself as opposed to well, he is willing to support his campaign maybe he won't be beholden to anybody. The spin is fascinating.

Paul Giblin:
They are saying that Peterson is buying the campaign. His people said he spent money early on because he was going around the state shaking hands but lately has been working on building money himself. He is not getting that much outside money.

Howard Fischer:
I love this buying the campaign. Look at Kyl's campaign contributions from special interests. The question is who is bought by whom.

Paul Giblin:
And the interesting question is how much money they don't have left. Got to wrap this thing up, mike, we'll hold nova.

Michael Grant:
Look for that guy's name.

Paul Giblin:
I did. His name is Bill Lewis.

Michael Grant:
I wanted to give you the opportunity to fill in the blank to shut this -- before we shut this baby down. We are out of time. Thank you very much.

Mike Sauceda:
Education is a top concern for Arizona citizens. Although school districts have a lot of say over the day-to-day education, the top school official also has a lot of input. Hear from both democratic candidates running for the office of superintendent public construction Monday at 7:00 on "horizon."

Michael Grant:
Tuesday on "Horizon," amphibians' species worldwide are under threat from pollution, changes in environment and disease. We'll tell you about work being done by researchers at ASU about amphibian disease. Wednesday, as PBS airs a new documentary on the matter, we talk to a documentary maker and a Hawaiian state official about efforts to extend to native Hawaiians rights similar to those granted to Native Americans.

Michael Grant:
Thanks for joining us on this Friday. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Goodnight.

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