As President of the National Center for Police Defense, I write today to talk about former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. As most of you know, Sheriff Joe lost his bid for re-election last year in a costly, contentious political campaign. His loss was due in large part to the Obama Justice Department filing criminal contempt of court charges against Arpaio just weeks before the election.
What some of you probably don’t know is that those charges were not dropped after Sheriff Joe lost his seat as Sheriff. The case continues and the trial is scheduled to begin on June 26th of this year.
The whole case stems from a “racial profiling” lawsuit brought by the ACLU in federal court. The ACLU alleged that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office systematically discriminated against Hispanics throughout their course of enforcing illegal immigration laws. The judge, in that case, sided with the ACLU very early on, despite evidence to the contrary. In late 2011, the judge then issued an injunction against the Sheriff and his Office that prohibited them from arresting or detaining anyone that was found to be in the country illegally. The Sheriff and his Office complied with the judge’s order as they understood it, but the injunction put the Sheriff’s Office in a peculiar situation where they either had to abide by one judge’s direction or break the law by not enforcing existing laws.