Immigration Watch: Is Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Being Targeted for Contempt of Court or for Simply Doing His Job?
The popular Sheriff is being forced to testify at his own trial — but are the proceedings fair?
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been involved in some high-profile lawsuits, but usually they wind their way through the court system and eventually are resolved fairly satisfactorily. This latest legal action against him, involving claims of racial profiling, isn’t going so well. U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow is requiring Arpaio to testify at a contempt of court hearing on Wednesday to explain why he didn’t follow the judge’s order to have his deputies stop racially profiling. Arpaio could end up in jail or paying a large fine out of his personal finances.
Many think the court proceedings are unfair. (Full disclosure: I was briefly one of Sheriff Arpaio’s attorneys in 2009-2010.) Arizona is home to a large Hispanic population, many who are in the country illegally. They are less likely to know the laws of the road since they cannot obtain driver’s licenses, and because they are less affluent are more likely to have a tail light out — increasing the chances that law enforcement will pull them over while driving.
Another problem with the case is Judge Snow’s fairness and impartialness are questionable. In 2013, a woman told Arpaio over Facebook that she overheard Judge Snow’s wife saying that Snow hated Arpaio and didn’t want him to be re-elected. Snow is also allegedly related to Chad Snow, one of the biggest immigration activists in the state and a fierce opponent of Arpaio due to Arpaio’s efforts combating illegal immigration. Chad Snow led a successful recall election against Sen. Russell Pearce because he was the sponsor of Arizona’s tough illegal immigration law, SB 1070.
One would think Judge Snow would recuse himself due to what appears to be bias and clear conflict of interest. It makes you wonder if there is an agenda in place, to be carried out at all costs.