- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on a court hearing Thursday in the criminal contempt-of-court case against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The lead attorney defending former Sheriff Joe Arpaio on a criminal contempt-of-court charge was allowed to bow out of the case less than three weeks before trial is scheduled to begin.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton agreed Thursday to let attorney Mel McDonald withdraw from the case.

McDonald never publicly stated his reason for wanting to leave the case, though he cited an ethical rule that lets attorneys quit cases when their representation would result in a violation of professional rules or laws.

Mark Goldman, who joined Arpaio’s legal team in mid-March, will now serve as lead attorney.

Arpaio faces an April 25 trial for prolonging his immigration patrols after a judge ordered them stopped.

11:51 p.m.

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is due in court Thursday for a hearing over whether his lead attorney can bow out of the lawman’s criminal contempt-of-court case just weeks before his trial is scheduled to begin.

Lawyer Mel McDonald hasn’t publicly stated his specific reasons for wanting to withdraw from the case. But McDonald has cited an ethical rule that lets attorneys quit cases when their representation would result in violations of professional rules or laws.

Arpaio faces an April 25 trial for prolonging his signature immigration patrols for 17 months after a judge in a racial profiling case ordered them stopped.

The former sheriff has acknowledged prolonging his patrols, but he says his defiance wasn’t intentional. If convicted, the 84-year-old faces up to six months in jail.

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