Sheriff Joe Arpaio Convicted of Criminal Contempt

Photo courtesy of Hannah Gaber/The Republic

Disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted today of criminal contempt of court by a Federal District Court in Arizona, according to The Republic.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found that Arpaio willfully violated a court order that he cease racially profiling and harassing Latinos. At trial, Arpaio’s lawyers argued that Arpaio was too incompetent to understand the earlier court order.

Unfortunately for Arpaio, his own legal counsel testified that he had repeatedly explained the judge’s order to the former sheriff and that Arpaio had assured him that the prohibited practices were no longer taking place.

The court order issued in 2011 mandated that Arpaio stop detaining Latinos who had not violated any enforceable criminal laws. During a trial last month, prosecutors showed that Arpaio violated the court order at least 171 times over the years.

Arpaio claimed to be above the ordinary limits of the law, as evidenced by a recording played at the trial that helped to convict him.

“Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president,” Arpaio said in the recording.

Judge Bolton found that Arpaio had “shown a flagrant disregard” for the 2011 order.

For more than three decades, Joe Arpaio has cultivated the image of being “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Arpaio honed this image through the criminalization of the Maricopa Latino community and his poor treatment of those he detained. The sheriff made sure to bring television crews along for his dragnets of Latino neighborhoods, and he was a frequent guest on right-wing radio programs.

In the end, it was this publicity hound who turned out to be the real “illegal.”

Click here for the full text of the decision.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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