Full Munnell Memo Investigation Report Must be Released by Sheriff Arpaio's Office Within Two Weeks, Judge Orders -- UPDATE: Some Records Being Released Today
The entire report from this year's high-profile investigation into abuses under Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio must be released within two weeks, a judge has ordered.
In May, Arpaio's office released about two-thirds of a report and supplemental documents from an internal investigation launched after a scathing memo by one of Arpaio's deputy chiefs, Frank Munnell.
The release of the report was followed by a downbeat news conference by Arpaio and the sheriff's announcement that he would fire two of his closest aides, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott and Deputy Chief Larry Black. The two were later allowed to resign.
Thousands of pages were held back from public view, though. Captain Joel Fox, a key figure in a campaign finance scheme we call the SCA scandal, was a merited employee whose discipline was governed by different rules. State law prevented any part of the investigation related to him from being released until his appeals process was concluded.
It seemed like the sheriff's office would drag that process out forever to avoid more bad press, but lawyers for Phoenix Newspaper Inc. argued in court this week that Fox had indirectly waived his right to privacy in that process.
Superior Court Judge John Buttrick agreed, issuing an order that light must be shed on the blacked-out portions of the document -- and that the entire investigative report must be released within two weeks.
The part that's been shielded from the public so far should contain several gems, especially for close observers of the three-year-old SCA scandal, one of the five-term sheriff's worst.
Fox was fired from the sheriff's office in October following a review of the allegations against him.
Earlier this year, after a strongly worded demand letter from New Times, the state Attorney General's office released its 800-plus report on the criminal investigation into the scandal. No one has been charged, but the investigation is technically still open. The current AG, Tom Horne, a Republican, turned over the probe to federal investigators who are, in turn, looking into allegations of abuse of power by Arpaio.
Read our feature article about the findings here.
Arpaio's office just released this statement:
At this time, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has not received a copy of Judge Buttrick's order, when our office receives the order we will comply and make everything available as per ordered.
We'll have more on this story in a bit...
UPDATE: The sheriff's office just called -- they're making a copy of the unredacted 1,022-page summary report. This will be the public's first full look at the document since it was partially released in May.