On Friday, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow said that he will refer Sheriff Joe Arpaio to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to be charged with criminal contempt of court.
Arpaio is not alone in these charges. Snow’s ruling also refers Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio’s former defense attorney Michele Iafrate, and Capt. Steve Bailey for criminal contempt prosecution.
Arpaio’s legal troubles reach back eight years ago to racial profiling lawsuits filed against him. Arpaio, who is also a devout Donald Trump supporter, has been accused of racially profiling Hispanics. He is said to have practiced several questionable immigration enforcement techniques, primarily during traffic stops.
The contempt charges against Arpaio have to do with his violation of various court orders regarding the original case. According to the New York Daily News, Arpaio “was previously found to have shown a ‘persistent disregard’ for orders of the court telling him to work against racial profiling by his officers.”
Arpaio and his officers ignored orders to stop detaining those suspected of being in the country illegally without suspicion of committing a state crime. They also failed to turn over video evidence that Snow had requested and failed to gather evidence from deputies at all after Snow ordered a discreet collection of material. The contempt case also alleges that Arpaio ordered an investigation to try and undermine Snow.
Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, admitted that the violations occurred. However, they did not take full responsibility for them, saying they resulted from miscommunication rather than willful defiance.
In response to the contempt charges, Arpaio told the Arizona Republic that he had not yet read the order, but that it was being reviewed by his attorneys. He also promised “aggressive appeals” and said that he and his attorneys were “moving forward.”
Arpaio also told the Arizona Republic that he is looking forward to an “independent review” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Arpaio is currently facing a tough fight for reelection this year, and these new charges are sure to only make things harder for the 84-year-old sheriff.
It’s unclear what will happen for Arpaio going forward. Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton said there have been few cases like this one throughout history. According to the Arizona Republic, Charlton said in a July interview that he “couldn’t think of another instance in which a federal judge had referred the head of a law-enforcement agency for criminal contempt.”
‘Fortunately in this country, it doesn’t happen. All of this is going to be relatively new in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.’
As stated earlier, Joe Arpaio has been a supporter of Donald Trump for much of the GOP nominee’s campaign. Surely Trump’s own hard stances on immigration have appealed to the Sheriff. Arpaio also shares in common with Trump questions over Obama’s country of birth — he has claimed that the President’s birth certificate is forged.
Arpaio spoke at the Republican National Convention to express his support for Trump, and he has served as an opening speaker for Trump at all four of his campaign stops in Arizona. Perhaps Trump can help Arpaio out with his legal fees. The cost of his legal troubles is projected to reach $54 million by next year.
Featured image via Getty Images.