Judge Considering Criminal Contempt For Arpaio

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 6:14pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 6:18pm

The federal judge presiding over the racial profiling case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he is considering appointing a prosecutor to pursue criminal contempt proceedings against the sheriff. The issue could be raised in a hearing on Thursday.

An order U.S. District Judge Murray Snow wrote on Tuesday evening said the sheriff’s office has repeatedly failed to follow his orders.

Snow wrote he recently learned MCSO failed to communicate to its deputies an order he issued back in 2011 telling MCSO to stop using an immigration enforcement tactic.

Furthermore, the sheriff’s office apparently violated discovery in the racial profiling case by withholding videos of traffic stops that had been requested by plaintiffs.

Snow wrote he was concerned that given such “apparent disregard” of his orders, he was considering using criminal contempt to compel the sheriff to comply.

The main purpose of Thursday’s hearing will be focused on the court’s interest in carrying out an independent investigation into possible corruption in the sheriff’s Human Smuggling Unit, after MCSO failed to follow the court’s instructions in its own investigation.

Snow said he will not question Arpaio in court at Thursday’s hearing, but he has requested a federal prosecutor to attend and said the sheriff may bring criminal defense counsel to represent him. 

"The Court does wish to expeditiously allow the parties to be heard on the question of the appointment of a prosecutor pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 42 to pursue criminal contempt proceedings against Sheriff Arpaio, and the possible scope of such proceedings," Snow wrote.