Here we go again. Once again an activist rogue judge intent on legislating from the bench has decided to not follow the United States Constitution.
Former Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio received a pardon from President Donald Trump last August, but the judge who found him guilty of criminal contempt is now refusing to erase evidence of his conviction.
A presidential pardon ensures that Sheriff Arpaio is protected from prosecution, and the United States Justice Department had asked Judge Susan Ritchie Bolton to have her rulings vacated from the court so no trace of the judgment exists. But like the good little liberal globalist that she is, she has refused.
The liberal hack judge wrote in her denial that the power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, but what it doesn’t do is modify how judicial records are kept. And that to vacate the ruling, in this case, would run afoul of this important distinction.
Arpaio has vowed to keep fighting, and his legal team has said they will appeal Bolton’s ruling on grounds that she misstated the facts in a previous presidential pardon case involving former President Bill “BJ” Clinton, of course, which she used as legal precedent for this ruling.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio in contempt of federal court, judge rules
Six months after arguments concluded in a case against “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow broke his silence on Friday, filing a series of withering findings with one big conclusion:
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in civil contempt of federal court.
Snow ruled that the Maricopa County lawman and three of his top aides violated an order meant to curtail racial profiling in his agency, according to the ruling issued Friday.
The ruling held Arpaio in contempt on all three potential counts, ending a lengthy proceeding that started a year ago when Snow convened a series of hearings in downtown Phoenix to determine whether Arpaio and his commanders defied Snow’s court orders.
Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan was found in contempt on two counts, and retired Chief Brian Sands and Lt. Joe Sousa each were found in contempt of one.
The ruling set the stage for reforms, costly sanctions and a potential referral for criminal prosecution, although the judge refrained from making any official decisions on those matters yet.
“In short, the Court finds that the Defendants have engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith with respect to the Plaintiff class and the protection of its rights,” Snow wrote in the 162-page ruling.
While a milestone, the ruling is largely a formality given the case’s history. Arpaio and Sheridan admitted to violating the judge’s orders before the hearings’ start date but repeatedly insisted that it was due to miscommunication and confusion rather than willful defiance.
The distinction could mean the difference between civil contempt and criminal contempt — or “fix it” remedies compared with outright punishment.
The judge set a May 31 date for a hearing for attorneys to discuss penalties. Shortly thereafter, Snow said, he would issue an order on sanctions and whether he would refer the case for a criminal contempt trial.
3 violations came under judge’s scrutiny
The contempt proceedings were based on three violations that occurred throughout the history of the underlying racial-profiling case: that the Sheriff’s Office failed to turn over video evidence that was required before the trial; that officials continued to enforce immigration law after Snow barred the practice; and that Sheridan failed to quietly collect evidence after the trial, as Snow had ordered him to do.
Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and Covington & Burling represented plaintiffs both in the initial racial-profiling case and contempt hearings.
Arpaio’s “state of mind” served as the primary topic for debate throughout the contempt proceedings, as the evidence left little doubt that his agency failed each order.
The hearings, which started with four days of testimony in April 2015 and resumed with 16 days in the fall, often turned into a much broader discussion focused on the sheriff’s enforcement priorities and whether he was more interested in settling political scores than rooting out the racial profiling that Snow had found in the Sheriff’s Office.
Arpaio’s acknowledgment in April that his attorneys had hired a private detective to investigate Snow’s wife was among the most bizarre moments in the lengthy proceeding. It set the tone for exchanges among Snow and Arpaio, his aides and attorneys that were occasionally pointed and personal.
Two other large topics developed out of the proceedings: what plaintiffs’ attorneys said were worthless internal investigations; and whether the sheriff employed a Seattle-based computer programmer to concoct a conspiracy that would free Arpaio of his legal woes.
In exhaustive detail, Snow agreed with each of the plaintiffs’ allegations, often bolstering his findings with Arpaio’s own words.
In reference to his December 2011 preliminary injunction that banned deputies from detaining individuals because of their immigration status and without state charges, Snow noted that Arpaio was fully aware of the order yet flaunted his decision to defy it.
He cites Arpaio’s reaction in fall 2012, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it no longer would accept undocumented immigrants from the Sheriff’s Office.
At that point, the sheriff announced his “backup plan” to drop off the individuals at Border Patrol facilities instead and boasted that deputies had recently done so for two “suspects.”
Snow found that deputies had detained and turned over to federal authorities at least 157 individuals who had not committed state crimes, in violation of his order.
Snow said both Arpaio and Sheridan made numerous misstatements under oath.
In particular, he noted Arpaio’s testimony about the “Seattle Operation,” a catchall used to refer to the sheriff’s many covert dealings with Seattle-based computer programmer Dennis Montgomery.
Arpaio maintained Montgomery was employed to investigate illegal CIA harvesting of citizens’ financial information, but some of the programmer’s work product indicated another goal.
Montgomery compiled timelines and flow charts that seemed to allege an elaborate conspiracy against the sheriff involving Snow, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and various other federal officials.
In his testimony April 23, 2015, Arpaio said he never had been involved in an investigation into Snow.
Internal-affairs office in the spotlight
Throughout the proceedings, plaintiffs asserted that the primary function of the Sheriff Office’s internal investigations was to absolve the accused of any wrongdoing. Snow agreed.
The judge highlighted an internal-affairs case in which deputies had been accused of “pocketing” items from investigations.
Although Sheridan initiated a probe into the matter, Snow said, there was a tacit understanding that it would go nowhere.
Sheridan testified that he believed there was no basis for a criminal investigation, that he felt sorry for the human-smuggling unit members and only ordered the investigation to deflect scrutiny from the plaintiffs.
“In short, Sergeant Tennyson’s investigation ended up being what he and Chief Deputy Sheridan intended it to be: a perfunctory whitewash,” Snow concluded.
Snow also found Sheridan had ignored his own conflicts of interest by overseeing a probe into Detective Brian Mackiewicz, who was accused of padding his timesheet and having an inappropriate relationship with the victim of a domestic-violence incident he investigated.
Sheridan was close with Mackiewicz, Snow found, and Sheridan’s wife stood to make $100,000 in commission from a home sale to one of Mackiewicz’s female friends. Mackiewicz was also Arpaio’s point person in the “Seattle Investigation.”
In sum, Sheridan maintained control of the investigations to ensure “nothing became of them,” Snow said.
Sheriff’s attorneys, ACLU weigh in on the ruling
The Arizona Republic was unable to reach Arpaio’s attorneys for comment Friday, but in a statement they said they have begun reading and analyzing the lengthy document.
“Despite disagreeing with some of the Court’s findings, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with the court appointed Monitor, the ACLU and Plaintiffs to comply with the Court’s Orders, as it has since January 2014,” it said.
Cecillia Wang, a plaintiffs’ attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, called the ruling “careful” and abundantly supported by evidence and the defendants’ admissions.
“Based on that evidence, it’s a damning finding — that they intentionally and repeatedly flouted the court’s orders,” she said.
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo said in a statement the ruling was the “first step in achieving justice for those whose civil rights were intentionally violated by Sheriff Arpaio.”
Gallardo, a longtime Arpaio critic, noted that the taxpayers would be picking up the tab for millions of dollars to ensure the Sheriff’s Office would be in compliance with the court’s orders.
“The irony is, while citizens pay the bill for the sheriff’s violation of the previous court orders, they are the only ones who can remove Arpaio from office and restore professionalism to our law enforcement agency.”
Arpaio is running for his seventh term as Maricopa County sheriff this year.
Next steps: A response to the judge, a hearing
Snow has asked all parties, including the U.S. Department of Justice, to file a response to his rulings by May 27. The Justice Department settled a separate racial-profiling case against Arpaio last year and has since joined this case.
Snow said he will discuss sanctions when the hearings pick back up May 31. Shortly thereafter, he said, he would issue orders on remedies and decide whether to refer the case for criminal contempt.
Snow betrayed little about either upcoming decision in his Friday ruling, although he repeatedly asserted that Arpaio and his aides’ violations were “intentional.”
It’s the key word that could be used to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal contempt charges. Snow also has said his decision will be based on whether he feels civil penalties are adequate.
Civil penalties are largely used to force a defendant’s hand in fixing a problem, while criminal contempt signals punishment. Both can include financial sanctions, but only criminal contempt could lead to jail time.
Snow did signal in his ruling that reforms over the office’s internal investigations are necessary.
And plaintiffs say the parties are already working on a system where victims of the office’s racial profiling could be compensated.
“We are hoping for the court to issue an order that would authorize some type of mechanism whereby victims could come forward and make claims for some type of compensation that stems from the violations of the preliminary injunction,” said Lauren Pedley, a litigation associate for Covington & Burling.
Offshoot of racial-profiling case
The contempt ruling is the latest development in a case that began 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 felt they were profiled by sheriff’s deputies, and an assistant to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon whose Hispanic husband claims he was detained and cited while white motorists nearby were treated differently.
Snow issued a preliminary injunction in December 2011 that prohibited sheriff’s deputies from engaging in law-enforcement practices that unfairly targeted Latinos, and he followed it up in 2013 with an order that included a court-appointed monitor to oversee reforms in the agency.
The costs associated with the racial-profiling case now exceed $60 million, including at least $8.2 million in tax money tied to the outside attorneys required to represent all the parties in the ongoing legal proceedings.
Isn’t it great how the law changes depending on who the plaintiff is in these cases? When it comes to a liberal globalism, these hack judges bend over backwards to comply with the law. But if it comes to a person who was defending the very sovereignty and security of our nation, they just don’t seem to want to let it go. I wonder how many of the criminals former president Barack Hussein Obama pardoned still have a criminal record?
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