ASK JUDGE TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF WITHHELD DOCUMENTS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 2, 2015) — On Monday evening, plaintiffs’ attorneys in the case of Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al filed an additional document to those submitted on Friday in response to an October 28 request for an extension of time to secure counsel filed by Michael Zullo which the court styled as a Motion for Protective Order.
Melendres is an eight-year-old civil case which accused Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio of singling out Latinos during traffic stops and immigration sweeps. Zullo became involved after it was divulged in April that he was assigned to assist in an investigation conducted by Dennis Montgomery, who was designated a confidential informant to the sheriff’s office in late 2013.
Montgomery had alleged that the bank accounts of approximately 150,000 Maricopa County residents had been breached by a government department in addition to email accounts of federal judges, attorneys representing Arpaio and some of the MCSO’s phone lines, including Arpaio’s.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, who work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the firm Covington & Burling, are seeking all of the documentation in Zullo’s possession relating to Montgomery’s approximate 18-month project concluded this past spring.
Through Arpaio’s attorneys, beginning in late April, Zullo turned over more than 3,500 pages of emails and other documentation but withheld a reported 87 exhibits. In a filing last week, Zullo claimed that his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination applied to the documentation remaining in his possession. He also invoked his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs disagree, and appear to be seeking evidence that would support the allegation made in the Phoenix New Times on June 4, 2014 that Arpaio, through Montgomery, was conducting an investigation of the federal judge overseeing Melendres, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow.
Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, testified in April that Montgomery’s work did not involve an investigation of Snow or anyone in his family.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys claim that Montgomery’s probe encompassed criminal activity by the alleged use of data which Montgomery took from the CIA and extend the allegation to the MCSO and Zullo.
In their newest filing, the attorneys claim that all materials produced as a result of Montgomery’s work “belong to the MCSO” and should therefore be turned over to the court by asserting that the court’s order for production of the documentation was directed to Arpaio’s defense attorneys, not to Zullo personally.
For his part, Zullo believes that his constitutional rights have been violated by Arpaio’s attorneys, who previously gave the impression that they represented him over the preceding months. In revelations made last week, however, Arpaio attorneys John Masterson and Joseph Popolizio of Jones, Skelton & Hochuli stated that they do not represent Zullo, who at that time had already turned over to them the majority of the documentation developed during Montgomery’s “Seattle operation.”
In a footnote appearing on page 2 of their filing, plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote:
They have asked the court to “order Jones Skelton to produce the documents listed on its law,” referring to a log of withheld documentation, which reportedly includes audio-recordings.
In another entry in the case on Monday evening, Snow ordered a “telephonic conference” for Tuesday, November 3.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.