“It’s official,” say a report from AZCentral, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been found in “civil contempt of federal court.”
This Friday, a federal judge has ruled that the controversial Maricopa County Sheriff and three of his top aides violated a federal court order aimed at reducing racial profiling by law enforcement.
The civil contempt-of-court ruling from U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, which held Arpaio in contempt on three counts, brings to an end 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.
“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 his ruling.
The ruling is based on three violations: Arpaio’s office failed to turn over video evidence that was requested before the racial profiling trial; His department continued to enforce anti-immigrant practices after they were barred by Snow from doing so; Arpaio’s chief deputy failed to “quietly collect evidence after the trial, as Snow had ordered him to do so.”
Arpaio and his men don’t deny the charges, but claim they didn’t willfully commit the violations.
From KTAR News:
The sheriff also conducted a secret investigation that critics say was intended to discredit Snow, who had ordered a sweeping overhaul of the agency after finding its officers had profiled Latinos. In the past, Arpaio has been accused of retaliating against his critics.
Snow is expected to require Maricopa County to compensate Latinos who were illegally detained during the 18 months when Arpaio’s office violated the prohibition on its immigration patrols.
The distinction could mean the difference between civil and criminal contempt, and served as the primary topic for debate in Snow’s courtroom.
Arpaio’s racial profiling case has been going on for years. The judge set a May 31 date for a hearing on the matter.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)