Thursday, September 24, 2015

Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tries to Limit Contempt Testimony

PHOENIX (CN) - Sheriff Joe Arpaio returns to court Thursday as a civil contempt hearing resumes against him and four of his current and former aides.
     Arpaio, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, Lt. Joe Sousa and Brian Sands - a retired executive chief - are accused of violating a court order by failing to deliver data to the court and failing to train deputies on how to make constitutional traffic stops.
     U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow found in a 2007 class action that Arpaio's deputies violated the Fourth Amendment by arresting Latinos during traffic stops and what Arpaio called crime-suppression sweeps. Snow ordered Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to take a number of steps to prevent racial profiling.
     The contempt hearing restarts five months after an April contempt hearing, and after Arpaio's attempt to recuse Snow failed.
     Snow questioned Arpaio in April about whether "America's Toughest Sheriff" had hired a private eye to investigate Snow and his family.
     Arpaio said his former counsel, Tim Casey, hired the shamus after an Arpaio supporter claimed to have overheard Snow's wife say that her husband was going to "do everything to make sure" Arpaio was not re-elected. Arpaio, 83, has been Maricopa County sheriff since 1993.
     Arpaio filed a motion to recuse Snow in May, claiming: "Whether a sitting judge is admittedly biased toward a defendant in his court and will do anything to ensure he is not re-elected is - without question - a conflict that creates grounds for recusal ."
     Snow refused to step down in July, ruling that his "intervention in witness examination was particularly appropriate in light of the fact that defendants had restricted plaintiffs' ability to develop the evidentiary record by withholding discoverable evidence."
     Arpaio appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which upheld Judge Snow.
     On Wednesday, Arpaio's attorneys filed a motion to prevent the court from inquiring about the private eye during the contempt hearing. According to the motion, Dennis Montgomery was not hired "as a confidential informant until September of 2013, well after any compliance issue with the enforcement of the court's preliminary injunctive order arose."
     Attorney Casey also filed a motion Wednesday, seeking to quash a subpoena requiring him to testify at the hearing.
     Casey represented the Sheriff's Office and Arpaio, and says it would violate attorney-client privilege if he is forced to testify.
     "Casey's testimony about his former clients will involve disclosure of confidences not authorized by his former clients, nor does the disclosure fall under any of the exceptions to the rule," the motion states. "Casey is therefore ethically bound not to disclose such information during his testimony. He is also ethically required to pursue available avenues to protect the information from disclosure."
     This round of hearings will be the first time the U.S. Department of Justice has been allowed to intervene in the proceedings .
     In July, Arpaio settled with the Justice Department a similar lawsuit accusing Arpaio and his deputies of targeting Latinos in traffic stops, discriminating against Spanish-speaking jail inmates and retaliating against critics.
     U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that Snow's judgment should largely stand for the racial-profiling claims, and stayed the proceedings during the Justice Department's intervention in the class action.
     Snow allowed the Justice Department to intervene, with little opposition from Arpaio.
     "As a party in the Melendres case, the Department of Justice can now work together with the court, the plaintiffs and the independent monitor to ensure that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office meaningfully implements the court-ordered reforms so that the constitutional rights of all people of Maricopa County are protected," U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Kappelhoff said in a statement in August.
     Puente Arizona (Arizona Bridge) has organized a Thursday evening rally outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse, where the hearing will take place.
     The migrant justice organization encourages "people who have been terrorized, criminalized, and incarcerated by Arpaio" to attend and speak out against the sheriff.
     "Arpaio is responsible for dozens of deaths in custody, hundreds of families separated, and thousands of people terrorized," said Puente Arizona Director Carlos Garcia. "It is people who have faced his hate directly that will be responsible for bringing a new day to Maricopa County, in which we have justice for the harms Arpaio has committed and our communities can live without fear."
     Arpaio has been named as a defendant in more than 440 lawsuits in the Courthouse News database.

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