For­mer Ari­zona sher­iff con­victed

A fed­eral judge finds that Joe Ar­paio de­fied a court or­der to stop tar­get­ing Lati­nos.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Melissa Ete­had melissa.ete­had@la­times.com Twit­ter: @melis­saete­had

Joe Ar­paio, the Ari­zona law­man who once pro­claimed him­self “Amer­ica’s tough­est sher­iff” and was largely praised by con­ser­va­tives for his hard-line polic­ing tactics, was found guilty Mon­day of crim­i­nal con­tempt, bring­ing his ten­ure as a re­lent­less cru­sader against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion to an end.

More than a month af­ter lawyers wrapped up clos­ing ar­gu­ments, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Ar­paio guilty for de­fy­ing a judge’s 2011 court or­der to re­frain from ra­cially pro­fil­ing Lati­nos dur­ing pa­trols and turn­ing them over to fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion author­i­ties.

The 85-year-old is sched­uled to be sen­tenced Oct. 5, and could face up to six months in jail.

Dur­ing the trial, which took place in a fed­eral court in Phoenix, pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued that Ar­paio in­ten­tion­ally vi­o­lated the court or­der, which de­manded his of­fi­cers stop de­tain­ing peo­ple sim­ply on the sus­pi­cion that they were in the coun­try il­le­gally — a prac­tice that had led to the de­ten­tion of some Lati­nos who were cit­i­zens or le­gal res­i­dents.

Pros­e­cu­tors used Ar­paio’s own words against him, point­ing to sev­eral me­dia ap­pear­ances through­out the years, in­clud­ing a Univi­sion in­ter­view in March 2012 in which he ad­mit­ted that he was still tar­get­ing peo­ple based on im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

“If they don’t like what I’m do­ing,” he said, ad­dress­ing his op­po­nents, “get the laws changed in Wash­ing­ton.”

In an in­ter­view with Fox News two months later, Ar­paio said he was go­ing to con­tinue ar­rest­ing im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally: “I’m not go­ing to give it up. I’m go­ing to con­tinue to en­force state laws and fed­eral laws.”

Ar­paio’s lawyer, Jack Wi­lenchik, ar­gued that the court or­der from U.S. District Judge G. Mur­ray Snow was not clear and that the sher­iff was sim­ply car­ry­ing out state and fed­eral laws with­out in­ten­tion­ally pro­fil­ing any­body or ask­ing his depart­ment to do so.

Wi­lenchik said Mon­day that Ar­paio planned to ap­peal Bolton’s ver­dict and get a trial by jury.

Ar­paio lost his bid for a jury trial in early May af­ter Bolton re­jected it on the grounds that the law did not re­quire ju­ries in cases in which the po­ten­tial jail term was so short.

“Bolton vi­o­lated the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion by is­su­ing her ver­dict with­out even read­ing it to the de­fen­dant in pub­lic court,” Wi­lenchik said in a state­ment. “Ar­paio be­lieves that a jury would have found in his fa­vor, and that it will. He is in this for the long haul.”

In her writ­ten opin­ion, Bolton said the ev­i­dence showed “fla­grant dis­re­gard” for the court or­der and that Ar­paio had “will­fully vi­o­lated” it. She also said Ar­paio had failed to en­sure his depart­ment com­plied with the or­der by di­rect­ing his deputies to “con­tinue to de­tain” peo­ple.

Bolton said ev­i­dence showed that Ar­paio un­der­stood the or­der.

“De­spite this knowl­edge, the de­fen­dant broad­cast to the world and to his sub­or­di­nates that he would and they should con­tinue ‘what he had al­ways been do­ing,’ ” Bolton said.

Ar­paio was elected sher­iff of Ari­zona’s Mari­copa County in 1992 and served six terms be­fore los­ing his re­elec­tion bid in Novem­ber.

He was known for crack­downs on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and tough in­car­cer­a­tion poli­cies. He forced in­mates to wear pink un­der­wear and housed them in can­vas tents un­der the hot Ari­zona sun.

Such prac­tices drew sharp crit­i­cism from ad­vo­cates for civil and im­mi­grant rights but made him pop­u­lar with many Ari­zo­nans and turned him into a na­tional icon for op­po­nents of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

He cam­paigned for Don­ald Trump dur­ing last year’s pres­i­den­tial race and con­tin­ued to be a lead­ing pro­po­nent of the lie that Pres­i­dent Obama was not born in the United States af­ter Trump dropped it.

He con­tin­ued to boast about crack­ing down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion even af­ter his depart­ment re­ceived pro­fil­ing com­plaints.

Im­mi­grant ad­vo­cate groups wel­comed the judge’s rul­ing and said the de­ci­sion pro­vided lessons other de­part­ments should fol­low.

“Lo­cal sher­iffs pur­su­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants leads to un­con­sti­tu­tional polic­ing, racial pro­fil­ing and il­le­gal stops,” Ce­cil­lia Wang, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union deputy le­gal di­rec­tor, wrote on Twit­ter.

“Sher­iffs and po­lice chiefs who de­cline to do im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment and fo­cus on pub­lic safety have it right.”

Ross D. Franklin Associated Press

JOE AR­PAIO out­side court in Phoenix in June. He is sched­uled to be sen­tenced Oct. 5, and could face jail time. The for­mer Mari­copa County sher­iff planned to ap­peal the ver­dict and get a trial by jury, his lawyer said.

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