New York Times
By Fernanda Santos
May 13, 2016
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who made a name for himself as an unapologetic pursuer of unauthorized immigrants, was found in contempt of court here on Friday for willfully violating an order requiring his deputies to stop detaining Latinos based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally.
In a 162-page ruling, Judge G. Murray Snow of United States District Court found that the sheriff had ignored advice from top commanders and his own lawyer and persistently publicized the pursuit and arrests of unauthorized immigrants because he believed those actions benefited his re-election campaign in 2012. Mr. Arpaio, 83, who has said he will run for a seventh term in November, has about $8 million in his campaign war chest, most of it donations from out-of-state residents who champion his tactics of immigration enforcement.
Judge Snow said Mr. Arpaio and three current and former aides at the Maricopa County sheriff’s office had engaged in “multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty and bad faith” as they continued to racially profile Latinos in traffic stops and workplace raids.
Often, Latinos were turned over to federal immigration agencies even though they had not committed any state or federal crimes — and even though the agencies had not formally asked the sheriff’s office to do so. In his order, Judge Snow wrote that Mr. Arpaio and his aides — Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, retired Chief Brian Sands and Lt. Joe Sousa — “have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of the court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct.”
The judge scheduled a hearing for May 31, when both sides are to debate other ways to compel Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies to follow the law. One of the most extreme alternatives is to appoint an outside agency to take over the sheriff’s office. Judge Snow could also refer the case for federal criminal prosecution that could result in fines and jail time, options not available in civil cases.
“His recalcitrance ends here,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, one of the organizations representing the plaintiffs. “Strong remedies are needed to protect the community’s rights, starting with internal investigations that root out misconduct. Willing or not, the sheriff will be made to comply with the law.”
In an email on Friday, Mr. Arpaio’s lawyer, John T. Masterson, said, “We are in the process of digesting and analyzing” the judge’s order and would file a response by May 27, as the order requires.
The ruling confirms an admission by Mr. Arpaio last year that he had ignored the court’s order and corrective actions prescribed. It also painstakingly details the methods the sheriff and his office used to “violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct,” Judge Snow wrote, failing their “obligations to be fair, equitable and impartial.”
The case against Sheriff Arpaio began in 2007, when a group of Latinos filed a class-action federal lawsuit against him, accusing him and his deputies of racial profiling. Judge Snow ruled on behalf of the plaintiffs after a three-week trial and ordered changes at the sheriff’s office, such as training officers and requiring them to wear body cameras.
The purpose was to ensure that the officers understood the constitutional rights of drivers they stopped — and that there was a record of such stops, in case anyone accused the officers of mistreatment. But the sheriff’s office had no system or formalized instructions on how to track, collect, review or store the videos taken by the cameras, Judge Snow said. It also did not have a rule prohibiting the officers from taking the recordings and other evidence they collected to their homes, as at least one of them did.
The judge said he had reason to believe that many video segments that could have proved officers’ continuing disregard for his order, issued in December 2011, “were destroyed both intentionally and otherwise.”
There was another problem. Mr. Arpaio and his office “did not make a good-faith effort to fairly and impartially investigate and discipline” officers’ misconduct, Judge Snow wrote. According to his ruling, investigations were purposely delayed to justify lesser or no reprimands, disciplinary policies were improperly applied and decisions were put in the hands of biased arbiters. In the end, few officers were investigated and fewer were disciplined.
Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous, has paid $41 million in legal costs for the case over eight years and is expected to pay an additional $13 million next year.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com