When President Donald Trump pardoned Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio just weeks before Arpaio was to begin serving a jail sentence for contempt of court, journalist Michael Lacey referred to the pardon as “the perfect marriage of two corrupt individuals.”
Throughout his 24-year term as Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio has clung to the spotlight. He repeatedly referred to his “tent city” jail annex as his own personal “concentration camp.”
He launched investigations into anyone who dared criticize his behavior, including elected officials and journalists. During his trial for civil rights violations, he even paid an informant to dig into the background of the presiding judge.
Of his many acts of malfeasance, what finally brought about his downfall was his continuing violations of the civil rights of anyone who even appeared to be Hispanic. The Department of Justice alleged that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was guilty of “stopping, detaining, and investigating persons of Hispanic ancestry based on their race,” and of retaliating against anyone who dared criticize the Sheriff’s practices.
After trying and failing to reach any agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Sheriff Arpaio in May 2012. A parallel lawsuit, Melendres v. Arpaio, was filed by Manuel de Jesus Ortega, who was arrested during a traffic stop and, despite being in possession of a valid U.S. visa, was forcibly detained for several hours.
Judge G. Murray Snow granted a summary judgment in June 2015 against Sheriff Arpaio based on discriminatory policing claims, declaring that Arpaio and his deputies targeted Latinos with racial profiling and illegal detentions.
Judge Snow ordered reforms to Sheriff’s Office procedures and appointed an independent monitor to oversee the execution of those reforms. After eighteen months, the monitor reported that the Sheriff’s Office was only 29 percent in compliance with court orders.
In various public statements, Arpaio remained defiant, bragging that no one could tell him what to do. He ordered a sergeant to confine immigrants without a criminal charge. When the sergeant protested that it would violate the court order, Arpaio demanded that he comply.
In 2016, Arpaio was found to have regularly violated judicial orders and intentionally ignored the court’s rulings. Before the court, Arpaio claimed ignorance of any violations on the grounds that he had little control over procedures and had turned management of the Sheriff’s office over to his deputies. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/ and https://about.me/jim_larkin
Throughout his time in office, Arpaio was dogged by the two co-owners of the Phoenix New Times, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. Arpaio banned New Times reporters from press conferences, ignored their requests for public records, and threatened newspaper employees with arrest.
Lacey and Larkin were pulled from their homes in the middle of the night of October 18, 2007, by plainclothes detectives of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
The public backlash resulting from their arrests resulted in them being released without charge and subsequently being awarded $3.7 million by Maricopa County.