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Paul Petersen's lawyers gearing up for busy week in court

Posted at 8:49 PM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-25 01:21:10-04

PHOENIX — Paul Petersen could soon be a free man, but his attorney says it will be a busy week in court to make that happen.

"Press conferences and the government indictment, they like to say what they say, but ultimately the rubber hits the road in the courtroom," said Kurt Altman, Petersen's attorney.

Altman is giving some insight into what his client is facing in the coming weeks. Altman is a former United States assistant attorney, and state prosecutor turned defense lawyer.

"He's in federal pre-trial detention, he's held here in Arizona right now," said Altman of Petersen, who remains in federal custody in Florence.

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But not for long. Altman says within the next day or two, Petersen is expected to be transported by U.S. Marshals to Arkansas, where he will be arraigned on federal charges related to human trafficking.

"We have a hearing in Arkansas on the federal case Tuesday afternoon; it's an arraignment. Hopefully, a detention hearing will address his release conditions following the arraignment," said Altman.

So far, Petersen has posted bond in Arizona and has a bond hearing in Utah Friday. If he can pay that bond, the only thing keeping him behind bars is the federal detention hearing.

"They'll evaluate his flight risk and his dangerousness, and we feel very confident in both of those, he's certainly not a flight risk he's willing to stand up for this and defend this case to the end, and he's certainly not a danger to the community," said Altman, who says he's been able to meet with Petersen a few times in jail.

Altman says Petersen is handling his time in jail the best he can and has been able to receive visits from his wife.

Then there's the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who intend to vote to suspend Petersen for 120 days under a rare statute on Monday.

"You know Mr. Petersen is not an employee of the county, he's a constitutionally elected officer, elected by the people of Maricopa County," said Altman.

Altman says the statute in question has only been used once, in 1944. He insists no statute or evidence can remove Petersen from his elected position barring a state constitutional amendment.

It's an argument Altman will have a chance to make, along with many more in the coming weeks.