- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Immigrant rights advocates who pressed a racial profiling case against metro Phoenix’s sheriff are urging a judge to recommend that a criminal investigation be launched against the lawman and his top aide for his defiance of court orders.

Lawyers in the case chimed in Friday on proposed remedies to a ruling two weeks ago that found Sheriff Joe Arpaio in civil contempt of court for ignoring the judge’s orders in the profiling lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow had concluded that Arpaio knowingly ignored a 2011 order to halt his immigration patrols and deliberately misstated facts when he denied in court that he had conducted an investigation of the judge.

The finding is expected to bring greater court oversight of the sheriff’s office and could lead to a criminal contempt case that could expose Arpaio to fines and even jail time. The judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to examine ways to remedy Arpaio’s violations.

Attorneys who won the profiling case three years ago said the judge should recommend that prosecutors conduct a criminal contempt investigation against Arpaio and his second-in-command, Jerry Sheridan. They also suggested that such an investigation should include perjury and obstruction-of-justice allegations against both lawmen.

They say Arpaio should be required to pull $300,000 out of his own pocket to help Maricopa County taxpayers compensate Latinos who were illegally detained in violation of the order to stop his immigration patrols.

Asked to respond to the call for criminal investigations, the sheriff’s office issued a statement saying it’s committed to addressing the judge’s ruling.

The sheriff’s attorneys said Arpaio and Sheridan are willing to contribute a combined $100,000 to a Hispanic civil rights organization and publicly acknowledge their contempt violations.

While the county’s costs for compensating the victims are unknown, taxpayers have spent $41 million in the case over the last eight years, and another $13 million is set aside for the coming year.

An attorney representing Maricopa County sent Arpaio’s lawyers a letter last week saying the county may not be financially responsible for intentional violations of court orders.

Arpaio, who earns $100,000 a year as sheriff and owns more than $2 million in commercial real estate, has never had to pull money from his own pocket to pay for legal costs directly tied to his official duties as sheriff over the last 23 years.

Snow also had offered a bruising critique of Arpaio’s efforts to conduct his internal investigations into alleged misconduct by his officers, saying disciplinary actions are sometimes decided by employees who are biased and have conflicts of interest in deciding such matters.

The judge is considering whether to invalidate several internal investigations, get an independent investigator to re-examine the allegations and take away Arpaio’s power to reverse discipline in those cases.

Arpaio’s attorneys agreed to have an outside investigator re-open the investigation, but said Arpaio has sole responsibility for firing employees.


Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/jacques-billeaud.

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