Judge orders criminal contempt trial for
Arizona sheriff Arpaio
Send a link to a friend
[October 26, 2016]
By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A federal judge on
Tuesday ordered Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio to stand trial in December on
a criminal contempt charge of violating the terms of a court ruling
against the controversial sheriff in a 2007 racial profiling case.
The latest court order setting Arpaio's trial date for Dec. 6 means that
the six-term Maricopa County sheriff will be spared from facing the
contempt charge in court until well after his bid for re-election on
Arpaio, a Republican who has styled himself as "America's toughest
sheriff" while pursuing an aggressive crackdown on undocumented
immigrants, trails his Democratic challenger by 15 percentage points,
according to a poll released last week.
Under contempt proceedings approved by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton,
Arpaio is accused of disobeying the terms of a 2011 court injunction
barring his officers from stopping and detaining motorists based solely
on suspicion that they were in the country illegally.
According to court documents in the case, sheriff's deputies acting at
Arpaio's behest continued making such traffic stops for 18 months in
defiance of another judge who presided over the civil lawsuit
challenging the practice.
Bolton said Arpaio's trial will decide whether he “should be held in
criminal contempt for willful disobedience” of the 2011 injunction,
issued by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow. If Arpaio is convicted,
prosecutors said they would seek a jail term of no more than six months
for the 84-year-old sheriff.
Arpaio attorney Mel McDonald said his client was innocent of criminal
“The beauty of the justice system is now we have a right to a trial,”
McDonald told Reuters. “The sheriff denies the allegations and looks
forward to having his day in court.”
[to top of second column]
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program
aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona, U.S.
January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Laura Segall/File Photo
Arpaio has already been cited for civil contempt by Snow as part of
the underlying racial profiling case brought against the sheriff by
civil liberties groups on behalf of Latino motorists who claimed
they were discriminated against in Arpaio's crackdown. It was Snow
who recommended in August that Arpaio face a criminal contempt
charge as well.
Arpaio, who weighed into the 2016 presidential race by campaigning
for Republican nominee Donald Trump, has blasted the decision to
prosecute him, suggesting the timing was politically motivated.
His campaign manager has disputed the results of last Thursday's
Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News survey that showed Arpaio
trailing Democrat Paul Penzone and cited internal polling that
showed the incumbent ahead by 7.5 points.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.