Arpaio To Face Deposition In Contempt Case

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 4:44pm
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015 - 4:54pm
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Joe Arpaio

The lawyers who prevailed in a racial profiling lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have a chance to grill the sheriff on Wednesday. Arpaio is scheduled to be deposed for seven hours behind closed doors about how he committed contempt of court by violating a federal judge’s orders.

The deposition is in preparation for a four-day civil contempt of court hearing against Arpaio and four other officers in April.

Arpaio hoped he could avoid the hearing by admitting he committed contempt. He acknowledged he violated U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow’s orders on three instances, including a 2011 court order to stop detaining people solely on the suspicion they are in the country illegally.  

Last Friday, Snow declined Arpaio’s request to cancel the April contempt hearing, saying he’d only do so if all parties agree to a settlement.

But Cecillia Wang of the ACLU, which represents plaintiffs in the case, said the sheriff still hasn’t offered an adequate admission of how he violated the court orders. Wang believes there’s evidence Arpaio willfully disobeyed the judge.

“So this is not merely a matter of making a mistake innocently,” Wang said. “And for there to be meaningful reform the sheriff needs to own up to the entire truth and I am confident we will get there soon.”

Meanwhile, Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo is calling for Arpaio to resign in light of the sheriff’s admission that he committed contempt of court.

“When you have the top law enforcement officer thumbing his nose to the federal court, it is time for a change,” Gallardo said. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio has done more damage to the state of Arizona and Maricopa County than any other elected official. It is time for him to go.”

Gallardo, the sole Democrat on the five-member board, said he will oppose using any county taxpayer money to pay for the civil sanctions Arpaio may owe for committing contempt.