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Thread: Federal government to pursue criminal contempt charge against Maricopa County Sheriff

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Federal government to pursue criminal contempt charge against Maricopa County Sheriff

    Federal government to pursue criminal contempt charge against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

    Megan Cassidy , The Republic | 1:58 p.m. MST October 11, 2016

    The U.S. Department of Justice officials have opted to pursue a criminal contempt charge against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for violating a federal court’s orders in a racial-profiling case.

    The move has few precedents in U.S. history, as prosecutors endorsed a federal judge's findings that the lawman intentionally violated the judge's orders.

    Arpaio has not yet officially been charged. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked the federal government to write an order to show cause, by Wednesday, for her to sign. That will serve as a charging document for the case to go forward against Arpaio only.

    The announcement came Tuesday at the case’s first criminal hearing in downtown Phoenix’s federal court.

    DOJ attorney John Keller said the government will continue to investigate additional allegations against Arpaio, two aides and a defense attorney for concealing evidence — and therefore obstruction of justice — but will not proceed with a criminal case at this time.

    Keller said the statute of limitations may have run out for other criminal contempt allegations against Arpaio and the three others.

    Bolton is not sure, and asked for a pause on the statute-of-limitations clock for all sides to discuss that issue.

    In August, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow referred Arpaio, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Capt. Steve Bailey and defense attorney Michele Iafrate to be charged with criminal contempt of court.

    Arpaio’s charge stems from a December 2011 federal court order that barred his agency from enforcing federal immigration law. It is alleged that his deputies continued to do so, however, for at least 18 months thereafter.

    The other defendants were not involved in this allegation, and therefore will not face immediate charges.

    Largely because of Arpaio’s age — he is 84 — Bolton ruled that a sentencing cap of six months is appropriate on the contempt charge.

    A tentative date is set for Dec. 6. Arpaio’s attorney asked for a jury trial.

    The other allegations will run on a separate track.

    Arpaio was not present at the Tuesday hearing.

    The racial-profiling suit

    The criminal referral is the latest development in a case that began in 2007, when Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist legally in the United States, was stopped outside a church in Cave Creek where day laborers were known to gather. Melendres, the passenger in a car driven by a white driver, claimed that deputies detained him for nine hours and that the detention was unlawful.

    Eventually, the case grew to include complaints from two Hispanic siblings from Chicago who believed they were profiled by sheriff's deputies, and an assistant to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon whose Hispanic husband claimed he was detained and cited while white motorists nearby were treated differently.

    In May 2013, Snow found that Arpaio’s law-enforcement practices illegally targeted Latinos. The federal judge ordered sweeping reforms for the office, but for the three years since, the case has continued to attract controversy.

    Allegations arose that Arpaio and his aides had defied three of the judge’s orders stemming from the case.

    First, they were accused of violating a December 2011 injunction that banned deputies from immigration-based policing. Snow also learned of two separate instances involving the collection of video evidence in which his orders had been defied.

    While Arpaio and his cohorts admitted violating three of Snow’s orders, they insisted the missteps were unintentional. By law, intent could mean the difference between civil and criminal contempt.

    Snow found cause for both.

    In May, Snow found Arpaio and three of his aides in civil contempt for ignoring the three orders. The order was monumental though not unexpected, as Arpaio and Sheridan already had admitted as much.

    It wasn’t until August that Snow dealt the blow Arpaio and his attorneys had feared. Arpaio and Sheridan would be referred for charges of criminal contempt as well as perjury, for misstatements made on the stand. Bailey and Michele Iafrate, Arpaio’s former defense attorney, also were referred for criminal prosecution, but only for contempt allegations.

    Bailey and Iafrate are accused of trying to withhold evidence that was ordered to be turned over to the court.

    Protesters gather outside courthouse

    Outside the courthouse, about 100 protesters gathered. They said they were there to call on the justice system to hold Arpaio accountable.

    They rallied near a massive inflatable doll depicting Arpaio in a striped prison uniform.

    The crowd started small until a group of students from high schools across Phoenix joined the protest. They held hands and protest signs. Others raised their fists in the air. They shouted: “This is what community looks like!”

    Sagal Hassan, 16, said she joined the protest on her fall break to show unity among "brown and black people" who she argues have been racially profiled by Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.

    “I’m here to protest against Arpaio because he should be in jail,” she said. “He’s not above the law. I am tired of him harassing Latinos and intimidating the Latino community. He needs to be elected out of office.”

    As Hassan spoke, protesters behind her chanted in Spanish: “Que queremos? Justicia! Cuando? Ahora!” (What do we want? Justice! When? Now!)
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    Another politicized attack. IMO
    nomas likes this.

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