Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Federal Judge Debates How to Punish Joe Arpaio for Contempt of Court in Racial Profiling Case

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 11:40 AM

A federal judge is debating consequences for Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three top deputies in a racial profiling case where they were recently found in contempt of court.

Simultaneously, the immigrant rights group Puente Human Rights Movement and allies protested outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix where the hearing was taking place, calling for criminal charges against Arpaio and his deputies. The group has also called for Arpaio's arrest.

U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow was also supposed to hear arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona about how to compensate the hundreds of Latino drivers the court found to have been unlawfully stopped and detained by Maricopa Sheriff's Office deputies, according to a Reuters article on The Huffington Post

The ACLU of Arizona filed a memorandum with the court on Friday, suggesting Snow to issue a referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate Arpaio and Maricopa Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan for criminal contempt and other possible violations of federal law, such as perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the court-appointed monitor, among other recommendations.

On May 13, Snow found Arpaio and three of his top deputies guilty of civil contempt, saying they ignored court orders. "The Court finds that the Defendants have engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith with respect to the Plaintiff class and the protection of its rights," the judge wrote, according to the ACLU of Arizona. "They have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of the Court, as well as intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct."

The ACLU sued the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in 2007, and after three weeks of trial it was found that the sheriff's office violated constitutional rights engaging in unlawful traffic stops and racially profiling Latinos, the ACLU says. On October 2, 2013, Snow issued an order mandating "necessary changes by Arpaio and his agency to prevent continued misconduct and safeguard the community from future violations of their constitutional rights," according to the ACLU.

Arpaio and his top deputies continuously ignored the court's orders, which triggered recent contempt of court hearings.   

The Reuters article on the Huffington Post says this case has cost Maricopa County taxpayers roughly $41 million, with another $13 million budgeted for the next fiscal year, according to officials.

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