Origins of the Great Arizona Civil War

Patricia Treble’s short piece about Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the publicity-hogging Faulknerian nightmare who runs law enforcement in Maricopa County, Arizona, mentions in passing that

recently, a defence lawyer complained that, while her back was turned in court, two officers rifled through her privileged legal documents and even managed to photocopy some pages. The sheriff’s office insisted that the men, who were caught on video, were examining the papers for contraband.

Unfortunately, no text description is adequate to capture the surrealism of bailiffs stealing documents from a defence lawyer in open court. It’s really the kind of thing you have to see for yourself. And even then you might not believe your eyes.

Reason magazine justice crusader Radley Balko has context, along with an update, wherein the gonzo weirdness of Maricopa County gets weirder still.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.