Independent Investigator To Begin Re-Examining MCSO Internal Investigations

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 4:27pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 2:10pm
(Photo courtesy of MCSO Facebook)
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

A former prosecutor from New Jersey will soon begin to re-examine several Maricopa County Sheriff's Office internal investigations.

The federal judge who found Sheriff Joe Arpaio in contempt of court for violating orders in a racial profiling case appointed Daniel Giaquinto as an independent investigator.

In Judge Murray Snow’s May contempt ruling, he found sheriff's employees aimed to cover up officer misconduct rather than bring to light problems and appropriately discipline officers. In addition to appointing Giaquinto as an independent investigator, the Snow also appointed Daniel Alonso as an independent disciplinary authority.

Giaquinto previously helped implement a consent decree at the New Jersey State Police department to address racial profiling issues there. In that case he was also involved in disciplinary proceedings for officers.

Giaquinto and his team will evaluate and re-examine at least a dozen MCSO internal investigations, including investigations into officers improperly seizing property from Latinos. He can redo investigations if necessary and also research other issues the sheriff’s office never investigated, including Snow’s finding that MCSO Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan made multiple misstatements to the court.

The judge had an introductory meeting with Giaquinto for the first time on Tuesday morning. While Giaquinto had initially requested a brief opportunity to meet the judge, Snow opted to hold the meeting in his courtroom and invited the parties from the racial profiling lawsuit. Lawyers with the sheriff's office and the American Civil Liberties Union attended the meeting.

The judge said he did not want anyone to have the impression he was trying to guide the outcome of Giaquinto’s investigations behind closed doors. Snow reiterated that he wants the investigator to act completely independently.

Snow said with the exception of helping Giaquinto get access or providing clarifications, he did not expect to have contact with Giaquinto at least not until Giaquinto's job is complete.

Snow did suggest perhaps when Giaquinto's task was finished the two could go to dinner and "have a chat" once there would be no question of impropriety.

Still pending before Snow is whether he will ask a federal prosecutor to pursue criminal contempt of court charges against the sheriff and chief deputy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to clarify a statement made by Judge Murray Snow.

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