Judge In Arpaio Contempt Case Asks About False Evidence

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Friday, May 8, 2015 - 5:05am

The judge overseeing the contempt of court case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking all the attorneys involved whether any of them need to take steps to address false evidence submitted in the case so far.

It is still unclear at this point why U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow is posing the question or which attorneys the question is directed toward.

In an order filed on Tuesday, Snow provided a list of topics the parties should be prepared to discuss in a Friday meeting in his courtroom.

One item was described as: “Whether any counsel of record believes steps are necessary to comply with his or her obligations under E.R. 3.3(a)(3), and the appropriate scheduling of such steps.”

Ethical Rule 3.3 (a)(3) applies to all Arizona attorneys. It bars lawyers from knowingly offering false evidence and requires lawyers take “reasonable remedial measures” if they find out later that evidence they already presented was false.

The rule also pertains to scenarios where an attorney discovers a client or witness lied under oath, said Patricia Sallen, ethics counsel with the Arizona State Bar.

“Let’s say the client lies in a deposition and then after the fact of the deposition, tells the lawyer, ‘I lied in that deposition,’ and it was material information,” Sallen said. “The lawyer needs to take some kind of steps so the people in the proceeding don’t rely on that.”

Sallen said lawyers who discover a lie, and don’t have their client’s permission to correct it, may need to withdraw and disclose the issue to the court.

If it comes out that a lawyer failed to take appropriate steps after submitting false evidence, the lawyer could be subject to disciplinary action by the state bar.

Sallen said this area of ethics is tricky for lawyers because they may need to violate confidentiality. Furthermore, disclosing false evidence could be damaging to the client or reveal the client committed perjury.

One of Arpaio’s long-time attorneys, Tim Casey, withdrew from the case late last year and a second attorney, Tom Liddy, requested to withdraw in April. Casey recently notified judges in other cases where he represents Arpaio that he had to withdraw for ethical reasons he could not disclose.

It is still unclear if those events are related in any way to this inquiry by Snow. 

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