Con­tempt trial be­gins for former Sher­iff Ar­paio

Feds barred de­tain­ment of sus­pected il­le­gals

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

Ari­zona’s Joe Ar­paio, once known as “Amer­ica’s tough­est sher­iff,” was back Mon­day where has long been most at home — in the spot­light — al­though not for the rea­sons he would have pre­ferred.

Months af­ter los­ing his re-elec­tion bid, the 85-year-old former Mari­copa County sher­iff went on trial in Phoenix on mis­de­meanor crim­i­nal con­tempt-of-court charges, a case his foes have praised as long over­due and fans have de­nounced as a “po­lit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion.”

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued that Mr. Ar­paio will­fully dis­obeyed a 2011 in­junc­tion bar­ring him from en­forc­ing fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws by de­tain­ing 170 sus­pected il­le­gal aliens from De­cem­ber 2011 to May 2013.

Af­ter U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­tom En­force­ment re­fused to ac­cept the sus­pects in 2012, the sher­iff’s of­fice tried a work­around by tak­ing them to Bor­der Pa­trol.

“He thought he could get away with it,” pros­e­cu­tor Vic­tor Sal­gado said in his open­ing ar­gu­ment, ac­cord­ing to ABC15. “He never thought this day would come.”

De­fense at­tor­ney Jack Wi­lenchik called the pros­e­cu­tion of Mr. Ar­paio “shame­ful and out­ra­geous,” as re­ported by the Phoenix New Times.

Mr. Ar­paio be­came a na­tional fig­ure dur­ing his 24 years as sher­iff with head­line-grab­bing moves such as re­quir­ing pris­on­ers to wear pink un­der­wear

and erect­ing a tent city for of­fend­ers.

The trial has gained na­tional at­ten­tion with the de­fense’s at­tempt to call At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions as a wit­ness, which the Jus­tice De­part­ment has re­sisted, say­ing Mr. Ses­sions was a sen­a­tor dur­ing the rel­e­vant pe­riod and that the de­fense has failed to show ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.

The pro­ceed­ings, play­ing out be­fore a packed court­room, be­gan on Mon­day with a vic­tory for the pros­e­cu­tion: Hours be­fore­hand, the U.S. Supreme Court re­jected Mr. Ar­paio’s re­quest for a jury trial.

In­stead, the former law­man will have his fate de­cided by U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Su­san R. Bolton, a Clin­ton ap­pointee, in a trial ex­pected to last eight days. If found guilty, Mr. Ar­paio faces a max­i­mum six months in jail.

The pros­e­cu­tion called former Ar­paio coun­sel Tim Casey, who said he told the sher­iff that he must ei­ther ar­rest de­tainees on state charges or re­lease them, in­stead of de­tain­ing them solely on sus­pi­cion of be­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

Mr. Casey said he told the sher­iff and his sub­or­di­nates, “Ar­rest or re­lease. Those are the op­tions,” The Ari­zona Re­pub­lic re­ported.

Opin­ion on the case is sharply di­vided. James Fo­tis, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Po­lice De­fense, ac­cused the Jus­tice De­part­ment of “deep state bias,” not­ing that pros­e­cu­tors filed the charges two weeks be­fore the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

“With over 55 years of law en­force­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, Sher­iff Ar­paio has al­ways fol­lowed and en­forced the laws on the books. Now, the DOJ wants to put him in prison for en­forc­ing the very laws he swore an oath to up­hold,” Mr. Fo­tis said in a Mon­day state­ment.

The six-term Re­pub­li­can sher­iff lost his sev­enth bid for of­fice to Demo­crat Paul Pen­zone, a former po­lice of­fi­cer, by 56 per­cent to 44 per­cent. The new sher­iff has since taken down the tent city.

Af­ter the loss, Mr. Ar­paio started a con­ser­va­tive non­profit called the Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio Ac­tion Fund to ad­vo­cate on is­sues such as il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and Sec­ond Amend­ment rights. “I’m not re­tired, that’s for sure,” he said.

In a pro-and-con, colum­nists for The Ari­zona Re­pub­lic said Mr. Ar­paio was guilty of vi­o­lat­ing the De­cem­ber 2011 pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion is­sued by U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge G. Mur­ray Snow, but they dis­agreed on the pun­ish­ment.

Colum­nist Elvia Diaz called for prison, say­ing she wanted the el­derly former sher­iff to “go through the same hell that he forced Lati­nos to live, the same agony and tor­ture of an un­cer­tain fu­ture.” Op-ed writer Lau­rie Roberts ar­gued for le­niency.

Ms. Roberts said the former sher­iff has “al­ready lost what he loved most” with his elec­tion de­feat and his sen­tence of “ir­rel­e­vance.”

“Plenty of peo­ple are out for Ar­paio’s blood,” she said. “They’d give him life if they could.”

The charges stem from a 2007 clas­s­ac­tion law­suit brought by Manuel de Je­sus Ortega Me­len­dres against the Mari­copa County Sher­iff’s Of­fice ar­gu­ing that Sher­iff Ar­paio had en­gaged in racial pro­fil­ing by de­tain­ing His­pan­ics based solely on sus­pi­cion of their le­gal sta­tus.


PROS­E­CUTED: Former Mari­copa County Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio is back in court, this time as a de­fen­dant. He is ac­cused of will­fully dis­obey­ing an in­junc­tion bar­ring him from en­forc­ing fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws.


With a larger-than-life inflatable like­ness set up by pro­test­ers, mem­bers of the me­dia fol­low Joe Ar­paio and at­tor­ney Mark Gold­man as they leave U.S. Dis­trict Court in Phoenix on Mon­day, the first day of the former Mari­copa County sher­iff’s con­tempt-of-court trial.

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