Thursday, April 23, 2015

Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Blames his Officers and Attorney in Contempt Hearing

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Courthouse News Service
PHOENIX (CN) - In his contempt hearing Wednesday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio admitted he violated a federal court order on immigrants but blamed his officers and attorney for it.
     Arpaio and four of his former and current officer face civil contempt charges of arresting and transferring noncriminal immigrants, refusing to provide data to the court and failing to train officers not to make unconstitutional stops.
     "The oath that you took to enforce the law includes orders of the court that applies to you," plaintiffs' Stanley Young told Arpaio.
     "Sheriff, you acknowledge and appreciate that you have violated the court's orders and that there are consequences for those violations."
     Arpaio admitted it, saying that because he is "the leader of this office, and I take the responsibility."
     The admission came as no surprise, since Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan admitted violating the order in a March court filing in an attempt to cancel the contempt hearing.
     "I didn't have the knowledge of all the facts of that order," Arpaio told Young, before repeatedly saying, "I delegated this court order to my subordinates and also to my counsel that represented me."
     Young used Arpaio's symbiotic relationship with the media against him, calling the sheriff out on a number of press releases his office issued, detailing his stance on immigration laws.
     A Dec. 30, 2011 statement quoted Arpaio as saying "I will continue to enforce illegal immigration laws."
     That came just seven days after U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow issued a preliminary injunction ordering Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to stop transporting undocumented immigrants unless state charges had been brought against them.
     Arpaio's interest in media attention was raised earlier in the hearing when the court heard testimony from Lt. Brian Jakowinicz, who said Arpaio told him to transfer undocumented immigrants to U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
     Jakowinicz - then a member of Arpaio's now-defunct human smuggling unit - testified that he'd attended a meeting with Arpaio where the sheriff told him that if ICE refused to take undocumented immigrants that weren't charged with state crimes, "You call the Border Patrol. I'm the sheriff; I want you calling Border Patrol."
     Jakowinicz said Arpaio had a vested interest in the unit because "it resulted in media attention."
     Jakowinicz said he initially had concerns about joining the unit because of what he had heard in the news about its involvement in alleged violations of civil rights. He said contacted Chief David Trombi about his concerns, and about the court's 2011 injunction.
     "He mentioned that the legal aspects of it were behind me, that it wasn't going to be a concern, that it had all been worked out," Jakowinicz said. "[He said] it was a good time to learn what was going on."
     Michele Iafrate, an attorney for Arpaio, questioned Jakowinicz's understanding of the preliminary injunction when Arpaio commanded him to contact Border Patrol.
     "At that time you believed that was valid despite the preliminary injunction, right?" Iafrate asked.
     "I had no reason to believe that what we were doing was wrong," Jakowinicz responded.
     At the beginning of the hearing Wednesday, defendants' attorneys brought up their concerns again about Iafrate's representation of both Arpaio and former defendant Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in light of the 9th Circuit ruling last week that Maricopa County should be substituted for the Sheriff's Office as a defendant.
     Tom Liddy, an attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, excused himself from Tuesday's hearing for fear of ethical violations, as he represented both Arpaio and Maricopa County.
     "If your position is that there is a conflict, then we are going to address that right now," Snow told Liddy.
     "The vast majority of the information I have about this case I have no problem sharing with Ms. Iafrate and Mr. Walker," Liddy responded. Robert Walker is an attorney representing the county.
     Snow has not yet accepted Liddy's request, and ordered him to brief Iafrate and Walker on a couple of depositions for which they were not present.
     "While I haven't always accepted your opinions, you've been an ardent supporter of the sheriff's position," Snow said after weighing Liddy's request.
     "I'm not going to immediately request your motion to withdraw. I have stated several times that I think the position that the county has taken in various ways is an odd one and that is partly because we have an odd system of government in Arizona." Arpaio is slated to testify again for much of Thursday's hearing.