Tough-Borders Sheriff Arpaio Found in Contempt of Court. The ‘Finding’ is a Contempt of Justice.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow found Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three of his top aides in contempt of court for racial profiling. It could lead to criminal charges. As a former Maricopa County Deputy County Attorney who represented Arpaio on a racketeering case, I do not believe he did anything wrong. He’s an ethical straight-shooter — I don’t believe he’s ever even gotten a speeding ticket. I strongly suspect he’s been targeted for espousing a conservative position in law enforcement, particularly on the defense of our borders.
I also know Arpaio’s former Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, included in the judgment, primarily from working with him on Arpaio’s reelection campaign. Like Arpaio, he has a high ethical character, and am convinced he has been targeted for his association with Arpaio.
I have written previously about Judge’s Snow’s proceedings against Arpaio, here and here. The Department of Justice started investigating Arpaio’s office in 2008 over allegations of racial profiling when arresting illegal immigrants. I’ve written frequently about how the Department of Justice targets prominent conservatives, a practice former DOJ prosecutor Sidney Powell exposes in her book Licensed to Lie. Using the legal system to target conservatives is becoming more and more common, since progressives control much of the judiciary and even many prosecutorial offices.
A Concocted Notion
Since Arpaio’s critics on the left — Obama’s DOJ, radical migrant activists and complicit judges — haven’t been able to convict him of real crimes, they have concocted the notion that arresting illegal immigrants is “racial profiling.” Arizona has one of the highest illegal immigration rates in the country, and along with it has come higher levels of crime. Few people, even among liberals, will doubt the association of people who break the law to enter the country and those who break the law while they’re here.
When I was a Deputy County Attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, we conducted a study of crimes by illegal immigrants and discovered they commit crimes at a notably higher rate than the general population. For example, illegal immigrants make up nine percent of the adult population in Maricopa County, but are sentenced to 20 percent of all felony DUIs.
So naturally, illegal immigrants are going to be arrested at a higher rate than the general population. But the progressives in the Obama administration would rather ignore this fact and claim that Arpaio and his department are targeting racial minorities.
Nor do Snow’s rulings take this into account. He ruled in 2013 that Arpaio was “racially profiling” illegal immigrants and ordered him to stop. Arpaio allegedly did not comply, so now Snow is holding him in contempt, stating that Arpaio and Sheridan made “multiple intentional misstatements of fact while under oath,” demonstrated “a persistent disregard for the orders of this Court” and had an “intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct.” It is not clear whether Arpaio’s noncompliance was willful or inadvertent; his pleadings state that it was the latter.
But is the alleged profiling really profiling or is it good law enforcement? Isn’t it the kind of action a police officer would take no matter who the driver is? If a driver is committing a traffic violation — and may even be exhibiting signs of smuggling illegal immigrants or drugs — why shouldn’t a police officer be permitted to pull the driver over, even if the driver might possibly be an illegal immigrant?
Illegal immigrants also violate traffic laws in higher numbers than the general population, so higher stop rates don’t by themselves indicate racial profiling. What difference does it make if the car has Mexican plates, if the driver’s speeding or running a stop sign? By determining that Arpaio is racially profiling, while ignoring the evidence about illegal immigrants and crime, Snow is essentially legislating from the bench. He is effectively creating a new law that broadens the definition of racial profiling.
Snow should have recused himself from this case. Arpaio’s attorneys asked Snow to recuse himself due to bias, but he refused. As I reported previously, a childhood friend of Sheridan’s, Karen Grissom, told him that she heard Judge Snow’s wife saying she hated him and didn’t want him to be reelected. WND reports that Snow has never denied the allegation. And the American Bar Association has an ethical rule that mentions a spouse’s bias/involvement not just once, but four times when discussing the situations where a judge should recuse him or herself.
Even the left-leaning Arizona Republic, which rarely prints anything favorable about Arpaio, reported, “Legal ethics experts and courthouse regulars are split on whether Snow crossed a line and compromised himself.”
Professor Ronald Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University School of Law, filed a declaration in the case accusing Snow of having a personal interest in the case, which said in part, “It should be quite obvious that whatever the duties of a federal judge are, that job description does not include conducting a judicial proceeding in a way to ensure that Sheriff Arpaio is not elected and to pursue an investigation that is even broader than that for what appears to be personal reasons.”
Ironically, the judge initially assigned to the case, Mary Murguia, recused herself from the case earlier because of remarks made by her sister, who leads a Latino advocacy organization.
Another left-wing judge might have pursued the charges, a conservative judge most likely wouldn’t have. But whether an alternative judge would have pursued the charges or not is not the issue. In the legal profession, lawyers and judges have ethical rules for avoiding the appearance of impropriety.
Because of Judge Snow refusing to recuse himself, there is a good chance the proceedings will end up in a mistrial when Arpaio appeals. It could even result in Congress impeaching Snow.
Over $60 million has been spent attempting to prosecute Arpaio. Judge Snow could have saved the taxpayers a lot of money if he had simply recused himself. It is no surprise the left-leaning DOJ has come after the popular conservative. But Judge Snow? Spending that kind of money on a political witch hunt which may have turned into a personal vendetta is a gross abuse of power, and makes you wonder whether Snow has something personal against Arpaio or whether he is being given top-down orders.