Ar­paio to pur­sue ap­peal, jury trial af­ter con­vic­tion

Judge finds ‘fla­grant dis­re­gard’ for court

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

Joe Ar­paio was found guilty Mon­day of crim­i­nal con­tempt for de­fy­ing a judge’s or­der to stop de­tain­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants, but the for­mer sher­iff isn’t go­ing down with­out a fight.

Shortly af­ter U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton is­sued her ver­dict, Ar­paio at­tor­ney Jack Wi­lenchik said the long­time law­man of Mari­copa County, Ari­zona, once known as “Amer­ica’s tough­est sher­iff,” plans to ap­peal and press for a jury trial.

“Joe Ar­paio is in this for the long haul, and he will con­tinue his fight to vin­di­cate him­self, to prove his in­no­cence and to pro­tect the pub­lic,” Mr. Wi­lenchik said in a state­ment.

He said the judge “vi­o­lated the United States Con­sti­tu­tion by is­su­ing her ver­dict with­out even read­ing it to the de­fen­dant in pub­lic court. Her

ver­dict is con­trary to what ev­ery sin­gle wit­ness tes­ti­fied in the case. Ar­paio be­lieves that a jury would have found in his fa­vor, and that it will.”

Mr. Ar­paio, 85, who served as sher­iff for 24 years be­fore los­ing his sev­enth bid for of­fice in Novem­ber, faces a max­i­mum six months in jail at his Oct. 5 sen­tenc­ing, but court watch­ers say the judge is un­likely to put him be­hind bars, given his age.

Crit­ics of Mr. Ar­paio’s hard line on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, his pen­chant for seek­ing pub­lic­ity and his un­ortho­dox in­car­cer­a­tion meth­ods — he built a tent city for in­mates and had them wear pink un­der­wear — cheered the ver­dict.

“For more than 24 hours, Joe Ar­paio has sowed fear in our com­mu­ni­ties and tar­nished the pub­lic’s con­fi­dence in our law en­force­ment,” said Rep. Raul M. Gri­jalva, Ari­zona Demo­crat. “To­day’s rul­ing con­firms what many of us have known all along: Mr. Ar­paio’s ac­tions as sher­iff were well beyond his ju­ris­dic­tion, and he know­ingly abused his au­thor­ity for years.”

Mean­while, Ar­paio sup­port­ers slammed what they de­scribed as the in­jus­tice of the ver­dict, in­sist­ing that the for­mer law­man was guilty only of at­tempt­ing to pro­tect the pub­lic by en­forc­ing the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws when the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would not.

“This is a com­plete trav­esty of jus­tice,” said James Fo­tis, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Po­lice Defense, who ob­served the five-day trial in Phoenix.

“As I sat in the court­room and lis­tened to Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio’s trial, I knew any rea­son­able man or woman who was there to pass judg­ment on this hon­est, law-abid­ing man who gave his life to the rule of law could never find him guilty on the ev­i­dence pre­sented,” Mr. Fo­tis said.

Judge Bolton found that Mr. Ar­paio vi­o­lated a 2011 court or­der bar­ring him from de­tain­ing sus­pected un­doc­u­mented aliens un­less they were im­pli­cated in crim­i­nal of­fenses other than be­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

From May 2011 to De­cem­ber 2013, the Mari­copa County Sher­iff’s Of­fice Hu­man Smug­gling Unit’s shift sum­maries showed that 171 peo­ple were turned over to U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment with­out be­ing charged with crimes.

Judge Bolton said Mr. Ar­paio showed a fla­grant dis­re­gard for U.S. District Court Judge G. Mur­ray Snow’s pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion, which be­came per­ma­nent two years later, by con­duct­ing “busi­ness as usual no mat­ter who said oth­er­wise.”

“De­fen­dant stated on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions that he would con­tinue to keep do­ing what he had been do­ing,” Judge Bolton said in her 14-page de­ci­sion. “De­fen­dant said he ‘will con­tinue to en­force il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion laws’ just seven days af­ter the is­suance of the pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion.”

Mr. Wi­lenchik, who ar­gued dur­ing the trial that the Snow or­der was murky and sub­ject to mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion, said Judge Bolton found that it “clearly said some­thing that it did not even say: that the MCSO was pro­hib­ited from turn­ing il­le­gal aliens over to Bor­der Pa­trol or ICE.”

“Ev­ery wit­ness in the case tes­ti­fied that the or­der was not clear, even though Judge Bolton and her fel­low judge say so,” Mr. Wi­lenchik said. “Nu­mer­ous law en­force­ment agen­cies also con­tinue to do this. In fact, the DOJ now goes af­ter agen­cies that refuse to do this.”

Be­fore the trial be­gan June 26, Ar­paio at­tor­neys fought to bring the case be­fore a jury, but Judge Bolton and the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals re­jected the re­quest.

In May 2016, Mr. Ar­paio was found guilty of civil con­tempt of court, along with three of his aides, in con­nec­tion with a racial pro­fil­ing case. Judge Snow said they demon­strated a “per­sis­tent dis­re­gard for the or­ders of this court.”

The le­gal bat­tle has proved costly to tax­pay­ers: The county last year es­tab­lished a $400,000 fund to pay vic­tims of racial pro­fil­ing up to $10,000 each while spend­ing nearly $80 mil­lion on le­gal bills associated with cases from his of­fice, ac­cord­ing to last year’s Associated Press es­ti­mate.

Ce­cil­lia Wang, deputy le­gal di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, said the con­tempt con­vic­tion was “vin­di­ca­tion for the many vic­tims of Joe Ar­paio’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, which were un­con­sti­tu­tional to be­gin with, and were dou­bly il­le­gal when Ara­pio flouted the court’s or­der.”

“Joe Ar­paio learned his les­son the hard way — no one, not even Amer­ica’s so-called tough­est sher­iff, is above the law,” she said in a state­ment.

The trial ended with clos­ing state­ments on July 6. Early on, Mr. Ara­pio’s le­gal team at­tempted to call At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions to tes­tify, but Judge Bolton quashed the defense sub­poena.

Mr. Ar­paio lost his re-elec­tion bid in Novem­ber by 56 percent to 44 percent to Demo­crat Paul Pen­zone, who an­nounced in April that he would shut­ter the 23-year-old tent city.


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