Looks Like Arpaio Will Need That Lawyer: Sheriff May Face Civil and Criminal Contempt Charges

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Updated 6 p.m.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio may face civil and even criminal contempt charges stemming from his office's failure to comply with a court order issued in the Melendres civil rights case. In that case, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was found to have illegally racially profiled Latinos in its attempts to enforce immigration law.

The case, which was scheduled for an evidentiary hearing today, was temporarily put on hold as Judge G. Murray Snow considers possible contempt violations on the part of Arpaio and the MCSO.

In front of the crowded courtroom, Snow addressed the sheriff and the issues at hand immediately. "I do acknowledge here the presence of the Sheriff," he said. "I appreciate him being here. I have some deep concerns and I'm glad he's here to hear them. I believe there have been some serious violations that require this court to take action."

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Arpaio May Have Covered Up Video Evidence, Can Bring Lawyer to Hearing, Judge Rules

Categories: Arpaio

Ray Stern
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio can bring a criminal defense lawyer to a federal court hearing on Thursday, a judge has ruled.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio can bring a criminal defense lawyer to a hearing on Thursday -- and he might need such help, a federal judge says.

The ruling by Arizona U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow comes in response to the motion for determination of counsel by Arpaio that we wrote about on Monday, in which Arpaio's lawyers, noting that Snow has warned that the sheriff might be charged with criminal contempt, essentially asked the court to find him a lawyer. The Sheriff's Office claims its request only sought clarification on whether Arpaio is really facing the possibility of criminal contempt charges.

Snow's latest ruling, filed late Tuesday in federal court, informs Arpaio that he can bring an independent defense lawyer to a planned hearing for Thursday or petition the court to appoint him a taxpayer-funded one.

But the real bombshell of Tuesday's short ruling was in the way Snow outlines the potential crimes committed by Sheriff Arpaio.

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sues Building Owners Over 2013 Slip-and-Fall That Broke His Arm

Categories: Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the hospital last year with wife, Ava, after breaking his arm.
"What happened: I blame myself. I fell."

That's what Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said from his hospital bed last year in an official video he posted about breaking his arm.

As usual, the six-term politician (who vowed back in the 1990s to only serve one term) wasn't exactly telling the truth.

Arpaio filed a slip-and-fall lawsuit last week in county Superior Court against the owners of the 2 Renaissance building at 40 North Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix, blaming his fall on "an unreasonably dangerous and improperly maintained walkway."

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Arpaio's Lawyer Tim Casey Wants Out of Racial-Profiling Case; ACLU Hopes He'll Stick Around

Ramon Charley Armendariz
Tim Casey, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's longtime lawyer, wants out of the hot-potato Melendres racial-profiling case now that it's in a "compliance phase."

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona don't want him to leave so fast, though -- not with questions and things left to discover related to corrupt deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz, who hung himself in May rather than submit to arrest.

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Joe Arpaio Gets In on Ebola Hysteria by Making Jail Guard Stay Home After Trip to Africa

Categories: Arpaio

Gage Skidmore
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is making a detention officer stay home for the next three weeks because the officer visited Sierra Leone.

Arpaio issued a press release announcing that the unnamed officer has been placed on administrative leave over MCSO's fear of Ebola.

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Gila Bend's Dead Body Problem

Wikimedia Commons/Karen Funk Blocher

Does Gila Bend have a dead body problem? An examination of Maricopa County Medical Examiner's data indicates yes.

The medical examiner's Unidentified Persons Bureau offers a public database listing every unidentifiable body found in the county since 1970. Since that time, the database records 260 unidentified male bodies and 40 unidentified female bodies found within county limits, adding up to an even 300.

The database's details on these bodies are sometimes thin, sometimes rich, and always sad.

"Every unidentified body is a missing person," a sign in the examiner's office reads. Some cases stem from the discovery of a single skull or femur, often decayed for decades. Others list details down to the color of a deceased person's underwear, or the name on an ID that turned out to be fake.

But dig a little deeper, and you'll notice a disturbing pattern of descriptions in recent years:

"in a desert area near Gila Bend"
"a wash in a remote area near Gila Bend"
"in a desert area near Gila Bend"
"covered in mud in a wash in Gila Bend"
"in a desert area near Gila Bend"

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Felix Torres' Death in One of Joe Arpaio's Jails Leads to a Lawsuit

Categories: Arpaio

Matthew Hendley
The mother of a man who died last year in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Towers Jail has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Felix Martinez-Torres, was 47 years old when he was found unconscious in a cell on October 6, 2013, and he was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to a hospital. A statement released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office at the time indicated that Torres "had a history of medical issues," and nothing suspicious was found about the circumstances of his death.

The lawsuit alleges Torres died after being denied proper medical care at the jail.

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MCSO Jails Remain Under Supervision; Still Failing to Provide Adequate Care

Categories: Arpaio

Maricopa County's jails continue to provide inadequate medical and mental-health care to pretrial detainees, a federal judge found yesterday.

Judge Neil Wake, who placed the jails under supervision years ago after determining that they neglected detainees, ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails must remain under court supervision.

"Those in charge of Maricopa County's jails can no longer skirt their constitutional responsibility for detainees' health," commented Eric Balaban, staff attorney for the ACLU's National Prison Project. "Judge Wake found severe problems with the jails' medical care, from intake to treatment. Detainees have had serious illnesses that the jails' staff missed or ignored, causing permanent injuries and even deaths. With today's decision, every detainee at Maricopa County should have access to adequate medical and mental health care. At last."

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MCSO Monitor, Chief Deputy Met by Angry Crowd in Guadalupe

Categories: Arpaio

Ashley Cusick
Warshaw and his team address the Guadalupe crowd.
The court-appointed monitor of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shared results from his team's first quarterly assessment of the MCSO last night at a community meeting in Guadalupe. But tensions ran high, especially given Arpaio's contentious history with the town.

Chief Robert Warshaw and his team have been charged with monitoring Arpaio's office since January, a result of the May 2013 federal court finding that the MCSO unconstitutionally relied on race during traffic stops of Latinos in Maricopa County. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the 200 or so attendees in the packed Frank Elementary School gym were Latino citizens, many of them residents of Guadalupe.

The Arizona ACLU calls Guadalupe the "site of one of the MCSO's unlawful, racial profiling-based operations," and lingering resentment was clear last night.

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The Company You Keep: Sheriff Joe Is One Step Removed From Vladimir Putin

Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Arpaio and Seagal in 2012.

They say you're only as good as the company you keep.

Action star Steven Seagal likes to keep company with some of the world's so-called tough guys. His television show Steven Seagal: Lawman sprang from his friendships with two nationally famous sheriffs: Louisiana's Harry Lee and our own blowhard, Sheriff Joe. But the star seems to be taking his bromances to a new, international level.

Seagal's latest buddy is none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. The actor was quoted on a Russian television station in June as saying, "I'm Russian, I love Russia, I love Russian people, and I love your president." The two reportedly share a love of martial arts. But it seems Seagal's support (surprise, surprise!) also extends to Putin's politics.

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