Judge: Arpaio's Contempt Fine Should Come From His Pocket, Not Campaign Funds

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Friday, March 20, 2015 - 6:56pm

The parties involved in the contempt of court proceedings against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and four other officers gathered in federal court on Friday afternoon.

The meeting was the first since Arpaio and his second-in-command, Chief Deputy Gerald Sheridan, admitted in court filings on Tuesday they committed civil contempt by violating United States District Court Judge Murray Snow’s orders on multiple occasions.

In that motion, Arpaio and Sheridan proposed a list of remedies to make up for their wrongdoing, including personally donating a total of $100,000 to an organization working on Latino civil rights.

In court on Friday, Snow seemed to appreciate the gesture, but warned that he would expect Arpaio to pay the money out of his own pocket — rather than use campaign funds.

"I am interested in them having skin in the game," Snow said.

In their motion, Arpaio and Sheridan had asked Snow to cancel a four-day evidentiary civil contempt of court hearing scheduled for April, arguing that it was unnecessary since they had already admitted they committed civil contempt. But Snow said Friday he would not cancel the hearing unless there was a settlement agreement signed by all parties.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said after the hearing they were not ready to settle the civil and potential criminal contempt charges based on what Arpaio has offered at this point.

“He has come a long way, he is now admitting civil liability in contempt, which he has been fighting kicking and screaming so far,” said Cecillia Wang, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union representing plaintiffs. “But the sheriff still has a ways to go before he owns up to the full wrongdoing that he and people his command committed against people in this community.”

Wang said she believes there is evidence the sheriff willfully disobeyed the court’s orders and she wants the full truth about his violations to come out.