Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Three Subordinates Found In Civil Contempt, Rules Federal Judge

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, dubbed “America’s toughest sheriff,” has been found in civil contempt, according to a federal judge.

Judge G. Murray Snow ruled Friday that Arpaio was in contempt on three counts in connection with a racial profiling case that has captivated the media.

According to AZCentral, three of Arpaio’s subordinates also violated court orders, the judge said.

Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan was found in contempt on two counts while retired Chief Brian Sands and Lt. Joe Sousa were each found in contempt on one count.

In his ruling, Snow noted Arpaio and his subordinate’s disregard for the court’s orders.

“The court finds that the defendants have engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith with respect to the plaintiff class (Latinos) and the protection of its rights. They have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of this court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct as they pertain to their obligations to be fair, ‘equitable(,) and impartial’ with respect to the interests of the plaintiff class.”

Following the ruling, Sheriff Joe Arpaio tweeted that he had nothing to say about the ruling.

In a written statement to CNN affiliates KNXV and KPHO, attorneys for Arpaio said they disagreed with some of the court’s findings and expect to “file a responsive memorandum.”

“We have begun our reading and analysis of this lengthy document, and expect to file a responsive memorandum. Despite disagreeing with some of the court’s findings, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with the court-appointed monitor, the ACLU and plaintiffs to comply with the court’s orders, as it has since January 2014.”

Known as “America’s toughest sheriff” because of his aggressive roundups of undocumented immigrants and attention-grabbing tactics such as clothing inmates in pink underwear.

The contempt ruling comes in connection with a federal investigation of the sheriff’s office, which found that it engaged in discriminatory policing and jail practices.

Arpaio’s office was notified of the investigation in March 2009 but “consistently refused to cooperate” with it for 18 months, the Justice Department said.

With little cooperation, the federal government filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in September 2010.

The Justice Department allegedly found that deputies “engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of law enforcement and jail activities that discriminated against Latinos,” according to a December 2011 letter of finding by the department.

In May of 2013, Snow ruled that Maricopa County’s handling of people of Latino descent was not thorough enforcement of immigration laws but instead was racial and ethnic profiling.
KPHO reported that a monitor who is overseeing reforms mandated by Snow wrote in a report that Arpaio’s office was slow in making changes.

Arpaio will next appear at a hearing on May 31, where the judge will assess penalties and remedies in connection with the civil contempt ruling.

According to The Associated Press, the judge will also determine whether to refer the case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio for criminal contempt, which could land the sheriff behind bars.

[Image via The Associated Press]