- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has petitioned to have the federal judge who is investigating him kicked off the case, telling an appeals court that Judge G. Murray Snow’s wife admitted to friends that her husband was intent on destroying the Arizona lawman.

Judge Snow has been battling Sheriff Arpaio for years, and in 2013 ruled that the Maricopa County department discriminated against Hispanics by targeting them for immigration enforcement.

Earlier this year, the judge began contempt proceedings against Sheriff Arpaio, accusing him of intentionally ignoring the court’s orders — but the sheriff says the judge has created a conflict of interest through his own unusually aggressive courtroom tactics and his wife’s words.

If the judge is removed, it could upend the entire years-long case, including the 2013 ruling and subsequent non-discrimination agreements to which the sheriff’s department has agreed.

Judge Snow has already rejected a request to step down from the case, which is why Sheriff Arpaio has now gone to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to try to get him removed.

“The court, clearly angry over the suggestion that he hates the sheriff and would do what it takes to get him out of office, morphed from objective adjudicator into an advocate, giving his own testimony, asking leading questions, becoming argumentative with the putative contemnors when they testified, and taking ‘evidence’ from outside of court,” Sheriff Arpaio said in his filing.

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The messy case began years ago, with a complaint from Hispanic residents that the self-styled “America’s toughest sheriff” was unfairly targeting them for immigration enforcement.

Two years ago, Judge Snow issued a final order finding discrimination and laying out steps the sheriff’s office had agreed to take.

But along the way, Sheriff Arpaio said he learned from a Facebook posting about comments Judge Snow’s wife Cheri made to longtime acquaintances Karen Grissom, her husband and son, to the effect that the judge was intent on ousting Sheriff Arpaio.

The sheriff hired an investigator to look into the claims, and Sheriff Arpaio says they were substantiated — though he says he didn’t do anything more with the information.

Judge Snow, who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush and confirmed as a judge in 2008, was so enraged to learn of the investigation that he ordered the court-appointed monitor who was already tracking the sheriff’s office’s discrimination settlement to expand his duties and look into the sheriff’s department’s investigation.

Now, the judge himself is under fire from Sheriff Arpaio and from Dennis Montgomery, an investigator who provided other information to the sheriff in the case.

“Neither Judge Snow nor his wife have denied that Cheri Snow volunteered that Judge Snow hates Arpaio and will do anything to get him out of office, denied that Judge Snow in fact hates Arpaio or denied that Judge Snow is using the litigation to embarrass Arpaio in his re-election to remove him from office,” Mr. Montgomery said in his own court filing this week.

The judge’s office couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday on the new recusal request.

Complicating matters even more is that Judge Snow’s brother-in-law is an equity partner in the law firm that is handling the case against Sheriff Arpaio, and that firm has already been granted several million dollars’ worth of payments in attorney fees, meaning the brother-in-law is benefitting directly from the judge’s rulings, the sheriff said.

Judge Snow has previously said that Sheriff Arpaio waived questions about conflicts of interest over his brother-in-law’s relationship earlier in the case.

Sheriff Arpaio says he first heard about the comments from Mrs. Snow when Mrs. Grissom posted about them on Facebook. Mrs. Grissom, her husband and son were eating at a restaurant with Mrs. Snow, who “boasted” her husband was overseeing the Arpaio case and would “do whatever it takes to get Arpaio out of office,” according to court papers filed by Mr. Montgomery.

Sheriff Arpaio hired yet another investigator to look into Mrs. Grissom’s claim, and that investigation found Mrs. Snow was in the restaurant the day of the exchange, and found the three Grissoms have been “unwavering” in their recollection of Mrs. Snow’s statements about her husband and the sheriff, court papers say.

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