Joe Arpaio Loses: New Times Co-Founders Win $3.75 Million Settlement for 2007 False Arrests

Categories: News
Statement of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, former owners of New Times, Regarding Settlement of Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dennis Wilenchik

Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrested us on October 18, 2007, for writing "Grand Jury Targets New Times and Its Readers."

Earlier today, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors ratified a $3.75 million settlement of our lawsuit filed in 2008 against Sheriff Arpaio and special Maricopa County prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik. This follows a June 9, 2011, finding in our favor by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with respect to efforts by Arpaio and Wilenchik to escape liability for their actions.

Unlike most of Arpaio's victims, we had the financial wherewithal to defend ourselves in court, and we were able to speak through the newspaper. But the vulnerable and impoverished victims of Arpaio's ongoing abusive practices have neither the money nor the voice to fight back. We intend to use proceeds from today's settlement to help those who fight the good fight against government actors who attack the most vulnerable among us. We further intend to help an organization that seeks to preserve and protect free speech on the Internet.

Our decision to settle this case rather than demand our day in court is largely motivated by the knowledge that nothing that can come from a trial will speak as clearly and with as much binding legal force as the Ninth Circuit's landmark decision in Lacey v. Arpaio.

In a scathing opinion, the appeals court scolded Arpaio and Wilenchik for retaliating against a free press, for grand jury abuse, for false arrest, and for a variety of other conduct. The Court served notice that thuggish behavior by police and prosecutors against journalists strikes at the heart of the Constitution. The Court's landmark opinion has already been cited in a dozen published federal appellate cases and over a dozen federal district court opinions in the short time since it was handed down.

The events giving rise to this settlement began in 2004 when Phoenix New Times published a story "Sheriff Joe's Real Estate Game," July 1, 2004) questioning the source of funds for $690,000 in cash invested by Sheriff Arpaio in two pieces of commercial real estate.

The Sheriff also owned another half-dozen commercial properties. The records of those six parcels were also hidden from public view.

Using an Arizona statute intended to protect a peace officer's home address, Arpaio redacted from public records all of the financial details of his commercial transactions.

Reporter John Dougherty detailed these problems and asked: Where does a public servant get this kind of cash? Why is the Sheriff hiding his real estate speculation?

Arpaio responded with a heavy-handed, two-and-a-half-year campaign to have the newspaper and its reporters and editors prosecuted for disclosing his home address. While the paper did publish, as part of its investigation, the Sheriff's address, that very same address was widely available elsewhere on the web, including on official government sites. Furthermore, the obscure statute that Arpaio relied upon to pursue New Times states that the publication of the address must present a knowing and timely threat. Given that the subpoenas were served two-and-a-half years after Dougherty's original story, the "timely threat" appears not to have existed.

After the Case Review Board of the Maricopa County Attorney's office found no basis for a prosecution, and the Pinal County Attorney's Office reviewed the case and likewise refused to prosecute, Dennis Wilenchik was appointed as a special prosecutor to pursue Arpaio's retaliatory objectives against us.

Wilenchik had earlier represented Arpaio in seeking to silence other press criticism. His law firm had done millions of dollars in legal work for Arpaio. And he had been the focus of New Times stories questioning his highly profitable relationship with Arpaio and former Wilenchik employee Andrew Thomas, the now-disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney.

Wilenchik embraced his role as Arpaio's special prosecutor with Orwellian vigor. He issued grand jury subpoenas demanding all notes, records and sources on each New Times story mentioning the Sheriff over nearly a four-year span.

More alarming, the prosecutor demanded to know the identity of thousands of the paper's online readers -- anyone and everyone who had read anything on the New Times website in the preceding 44 months. And he demanded to know what other websites these New Times readers had visited.

As the paper's journalists sat in the closed courtroom of presiding Maricopa County Criminal Judge Anna Baca in the fall of 2007, the grand jury proceedings took an unexpected, and disturbing, turn: Judge Baca lashed out at special prosecutor Wilenchik. According to Judge Baca, Wilenchik had attempted to arrange a secret meeting with the judge using an intermediary who was acquainted with the judge and who had sat on the commission overseeing judicial appointments. Judge Baca termed the approach "absolutely inappropriate."

Prosecutor Wilenchik's outrageous behavior is not a matter of opinion.

An attorney's obligations under the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct are clear: "A lawyer shall not communicate ex-parte [one side only] with a judge during the proceeding . . ."

There is an old legal cliché: You can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

Apparently, prosecutor Wilenchik was not content with the stacked deck provided by the grand jury; on October 10, 2007, he attempted to get to the judge.

Faced with an out-of-control prosecutor, we decided to inform our readers.

On October 18, 2007, we published "Grand Jury Targets New Times and Its Readers" in Phoenix New Times. That very night, Sheriff Arpaio's deputies arrived at our homes, cuffed us in front of our families and loved ones, and dragged us off to jail for violating the secrecy of the grand jury. The alleged transgression is a misdemeanor, normally an offense handled with a ticket or summons, but Arpaio wanted to deliver a message we would hear loud and clear.

Then all hell broke loose.

Media outlets from The Arizona Republic to The New York Times, lawyers, academics, and private citizens reacted with shock and anger to our arrests. The following morning a chagrined Andrew Thomas held a news conference at which he fired Wilenchik as special prosecutor and announced that the investigation was at an end.

It would later be determined by Judge Baca that there had been no grand jury -- that Wilenchik had simply issued the subpoenas himself in clear violation of Arizona law, without the grand jury or judicial oversight required by law.

Arpaio and Wilenchik later went before the Ninth Circuit to shield themselves from liability by hiding behind the police and prosecutor immunity doctrine. But the Court wasn't buying it, and for good reason.

As nearly as we can tell, the last American journalist arrested for something he'd written was John Peter Zenger, and that was prior to the American Revolution.

Before his reign of terror subsided, the Sheriff would become notorious nationally for rounding up immigrants as well as for attacks upon the judiciary.

"County officials could have curtailed the abuses of the Sheriff years ago," says Lacey. "Instead, they looked the other way until Arpaio's excesses moved from Mexicans to magistrates. With these cash grants, we choose to stand with those who resist."

Toward this end, we will make grants from settlement funds to the following organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which has successfully litigated against the racial profiling abuses of Sheriff Arpaio's roundup of Hispanic immigrants; the Florence Project, which defends immigrants detained in confinement; and the grassroots, migrant rights group Puente. We will also be contributing to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has taken the lead nationally in fighting in the courts against government intrusion on Internet speech and privacy rights.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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268 comments
thompson2691
thompson2691

Filthy fascist scum like Arpaio WILL ALWAYS BE "above the law" until  he is taken down, humiliated, exposed,  ostracized, disassembled, and imprisoned forever.


This chickensh-t cowardly maggot is the ONLY sheriff I ever even heard of who, along with his fat slob "butt buddy", the skank Henderschott,  got beaten senseless by a hairdresser.  "Toughest sheriff in America" my toosh.


He a slimy charlatan trying to be a Nazi.    The filthy, senile old creep deserves to be melded with the collection of delusional, slimy halfwits from Segal to the County Attorney.  This simpleton doesn't have to gravitas to serve as a zoo monkey.

thompson2691
thompson2691

Dirty little Nazi sleazebag charlatans like Arpaio need to be smashed, and lawsuits are probably the only way to do it.


This filthy fascist scumbag held me illegally for 19 days in 1997,  on phony baloney Mesa "aggravated assault" charges of which I was not only acquitted, but the foreman of the jury called me and said I should "go after" the scumbag prosecutor, Ron "the rat" Harris and the corrupt, lying Mesa copy, Charles T. Lines.  I told him it was hopeless, that filthy slimy hogwash-peddling drips like Arpaio controlled all the levers of power, and if I tried, I expected to be murdered.   


I left Arizona because of this slimy snotgob terrorist and the lying, corrupt filth in Mesa. 


And the degenerate, lying pig is still in power,  15 1/2 years later.


I collected some money for false imprisonment, but it would be far more resassuring to think of this gob of ____________ reposing in a prison cell, being brutalized daily by others the fraudulent, incompetent slug had ripped off and abused over the years.


He needs to burn in hell.


Soon!


Congratulations on beating the strutting little, Mussolini-aping dungheap.


You realize, the slimy filth will be haunting you like the miserable, depraved sleaze he is...


It's all the dolt can do.


ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Thank you Mr. Lacey and Mr. Larkins for your years long outstanding work that has toppled many corrupt officials, with more in the pipeline! A culture of corruption and tyranny. 


Without both of you, the PNT and your outstanding investigative reporters, few would have known the truth. 


A great public service. Those who have been silenced and cannot speak out will be forever grateful. 

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Time for TERM LIMITS for a County Sheriff and County Attorney, who are joined at the hip. Time for oversight and accountability. Time to reign in their power. Until then, innocent lives will be destroyed and the taxpayers will keep on paying for out-of-control law enforcement and a broken criminal justice system where the profiteers in all this refuse to reform it.

KojakFAN
KojakFAN

I had always thought Sheriff Joe was a great guy, keeping America safe etc.  So, I won't doubt what you write here yet, but can I ask you all a question.  Was there anything good this sheriff did?  Are you willing to throw out everything that he has done to keep Arizona safe?  Was there a time in his career that you were happy with him?  Did crime go down, did people feel safe?


But, if this is true what is written, maybe he just became too powerful?  I would blame then Arizona for allowing this.  Are there not safety protocols in place to monitor the sheriff from an outside agency like KPMG, or McKInsey etc?


At any rate, shocking stuff if true.

OATHKEEPER1958
OATHKEEPER1958

JUST APART OF THE BIGGER CONSPIRACY TO BRING DOWN OUR SHERIFF

DNichols
DNichols

Arpaio should be paying the New Times, and Don Stapley out of his own filthy pockets.

Arpaio thinks he is "Above the Law."

By the Tax Payers footing the bill over, and over for his Racist, and Comunist Actions, I guess Arpaio has proven he is "Above the Law."

However on the up side Seven Million is a drop in the Bucket compared to all of the Wrongful Death Payouts Arpaio has cost Tax Payers.

Arpaio is "America's Worst Sheriff,"

Arpaio, and Brewer have turned Arizona into a Racist Out of Control Hate State.

scott.huminski
scott.huminski

Don't forget, then's the appeal.  Hopefully, the lawyers for the NT framed this suit as a 42 USC 1983 claim as well, then the government has to pay all costs and fees of the plaintiff under 42 USC 1988.  After all, it was first amendment retaliation actionable under the above statute.


So let's add two more years to this case and about a million dollars in legal fees and costs.  Of course, not a problem, the government treasury has been opened wide to defend the illegal conduct of Arizona law enforcement.  If needed, they can just raise taxes to accomplish their goal of undermining the Bill of Rights and protecting crooked law enforcement personnel.


We'll see what the U.S. Supreme Court does about the Patently unconstitutional Arizona harassment statute, a favorite of Sheriff Joe's.


http://www.scribd.com/doc/178501012/Supreme-Court-Certiorari-Petition-and-Appendix-First-Amendment-attack-upon-Arizona-Harassment-statute

Steven Rizza
Steven Rizza

But when are we gonna get rid of this guy? People in Maricopa county show their stupidity every time they cast a vote for this racist

FRONTERA
FRONTERA

Congrats NEW TIMES . thx for fighting the fight...

Ron Rosen
Ron Rosen

Had to add the last part in fear of being blocked or kicked off your post.

Claudia Fisher
Claudia Fisher

I am tired of writing checks for the blowhard. can we please get a real sheriff??

Don Burt
Don Burt

As someone who has known Mike and Jim for over 30 years, let me say congratulations and keep up the great work! Arpaio is probably the most corrupt official in the U.S., and that is saying something.

johnj8020
johnj8020

Though I knew all along that a day like this was inevitable, I am really and truly thrilled to see this Nazi motherfucker finally nailed.

beanie1816
beanie1816

How much money has the county spent on all the lawsuits? What is the cost benefit analysis? If he is a true conservative, lets talk about the money. From what I have read it looks like the payouts $4.2 million by April 29,2013 so add another 3.75 million to that just on payouts. Then I looked at another website that said in 2011, $50 million has gone to defend more than 5,000 cases which were closed with no payout to the plaintiff. So that would ring the grand total to 57.95 million dollars on this one sheriff. What could that county of done with that money? Couldn't they have sent their citizens to college? Couldn't they have created a drug rehabilitation program to get their citizens off drugs? Isn't that what causes crime not having options because of not having education and drugs? Why not spend the money on stopping the causes of crime instead of spending all this money on some sheriff's crusade.

susyc
susyc

Wonderful!! All is not yet lost in Arizona.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/benson/                                               look it up for 12/22/2013

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

If you go back to how this whole thing started...


How again did the Joker amass the $700k in CASH (as a low paid "public servant") to pay for the commercial real estate, that he tried to illegally redact from public records?  That was the New Times story that started this, after all!


And was the initial thing that got the Joker to go into witch hunt/attack mode against the New Times, but I don't think was every fully investigated.

Yvette Hatcher
Yvette Hatcher

Now this a story worth reading, however, the tax payers are footing the bill once again.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Thank you, Mr. Lacey and Mr. Larkin (and the staff at Phoenix New Times) for standing up to the bullies and tyrants of Maricopa County. Without you, the public would never know.

Kathy Gutierrez
Kathy Gutierrez

One can only hope that this is just the beginning of his downfall.

JoesBigButt
JoesBigButt

The old fart Joe spends more on diapers than the total of those 2 settlements.

Rey Olivas
Rey Olivas

I'm glad so much shady stuff with Arpio!

Mary-Ann Johnson
Mary-Ann Johnson

Unfortunately, this still is yet another loss to tax payers caused by Arpaio's fruitless paranoia and egomania.

Paul Ollarsaba
Paul Ollarsaba

some one should make joe pay for all this fines and lawsuits , not the public fund.

Brian Schaefer
Brian Schaefer

The big losers are the taxpayers who are going to pay that settlement.

Bnbk
Bnbk

@DNichols The voters of Maricopa County need to remember that it is the MCBOS that is ultimately responsible and should be held to account. IMO,they should could have stopped this fleecing of the taxpayerts long ago. The fact that they haven't leads me to suspect that they are somehow benefitting from all these lawsuits. I call BS on their contention that they settled to save taxpayers monies. How many times are we going to settle to "save money ". Perhaps if they would let just one of these suits play out,we could expose Arpaio for the person he truely is. Some how,I don't think that is what the politicians want...PNT,maybe you should investigate the MCBOS to find out if there are any ties to law firms ect. that may actually be benefitting from this non-stop parade of lawsuits. 

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@DNichols 

The sad part is they're proud of it.

xmnana
xmnana

@beanie1816 I believe there was much more money paid out.  He has been in office a long time.  Would sure like to know what the grand total is. 

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@susyc 

Not lost, but certainly going broke because of Bozo Joke Arpaio's never ending bullshit.

johnj8020
johnj8020

They elected him didn't they???

rednail64
rednail64

Based on comments like this from your Facebook page, I'm not surprised you are hurt and angry:

Why don't liberals put on Christmas plays?

Because the can't find three wise men or a virgin.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@Bnbk

Totally agree. They could have stopped all this bullshit long ago. I remember a time when they thoguht is was funny so many people were being targeted by Bozo Joe.

The Board of Supidvisors have no balls.

Not so funny anymore.

beanie1816
beanie1816

@xmnana @beanie1816 I'm curious also about his prison and the costs there as well. I know people want justice that is a very human trait. But let's talk about this logically. Shouldn't we be trying to fight crime at the cause and not at the result? How does spending millions of dollars in the court system (which is a for profit industry) help anyone? If we are really interested in our family's safety then let's try to stop crime not make a lot of lawyers and special interests rich. I love capitalism too but when you sacrifice human life in the name of the dollar you have crossed the line. Many of these people in our prison system could have been saved if we would have spent the money we spent on incarcerating them on actually helping them before they resorted to crime. If we had drug rehabilitation programs, more education funding, and other community outreach programs some crimes would never occur. So the hurt that was caused not only by the criminal (it has to eat your soul to know you hurt someone) but the victim (our neighbors) would never have happened. Money still would have been spent so people would still have work (the nurses/workers working in the drug rehabilitation program, more funding to our school which is an entire industry) but the money spent wouldn't hurt anyone it would actually save human life. Isn't that a better and more conservative path? 

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@xmnana@beanie1816 

At least 57 million in civil suit payouts alone, this doesn't include attorney fee's, which could easily double that amount.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@xmnana@Cozz

Just to name a few. This does not include those that didn't die but suffered the torture and were awarded big settlements.

To date in 2012, the MCSO under Arpaio saw the death of Farinas, and Marty Atencio. Not to mention Scott Norberg, Richard Post in 1996 as well as Charles Agster in 2001 and Brian Crenshaw in 2003.

https://encyclopediadramatica.es/index.php?title=Sheriff_Joseph_M._Arpaio&diff=prev&oldid=305010&printable=yes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maricopa_County_Sheriff%27s_Office_controversies

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@xmnana@Cozz

Pretty easy actually, you can do searches on the internet on Bozo Joe's civil suit payouts going back many, many years.

I have no doubt there are more horror stories about how human beings are treated in the Maricopa County County Jail than ever gets reported.

Its a culture of torture and abuse by MCSO, this is clear.

xmnana
xmnana

@Cozz Thanks - how did you work that amount out? On another note, I used to work with his deputies in the Maricopa healthcare system - I could tell you stories :) It bothers me how his inmates are treated - some are not even convicted. 

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967 

It would not surprise me at all.

Someone needs to do some research and a story on how much the Bozo has actually cost Maricopa County tax payers.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

I think we're at about $300M between legal fees, court costs, jury awards and settlements Cozz.

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