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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Held in Contempt

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Held in Contempt

Sheriff Joe’s immigration enforcement has had a roller-coast couple of weeks

It has been a roller-coaster few weeks for famed Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  On May 2, the 9th Circuit vacated an injunction prohibiting Arpaio and fellow Maricopa County, Arizona police officers from raiding workplaces to enforce anti-identity theft laws.  Then on Friday, Arizona District Court Judge G. Murray Snow held Arpaio and three deputies in civil contempt in connection for racially profiling in traffic stops, contrary to a prior order.

Workplace Raids

The May 2 decision revolves around Arizona laws H.B. 2779 (2007) and H.B. 2715 (2008), which prohibit the use of a stolen or fake identity to obtain or in connection with employment.   According to the 9th Circuit’s decision in Puente Arizona v. Arpaio:

These bills were passed, at least in part, in an effort to solve some of Arizona’s problems stemming from illegal immigration.  The titles of the legislation and the legislative history show an intent on the part of Arizona legislators to prevent unauthorized aliens from coming to and remaining in the state. But these bills were also aimed at curbing the growing and well-documented problem of identity theft in Arizona. Between 2006 and 2008, Arizona had the highest per-capita identity theft rates in the nation, and one third of all identity theft complaints in the state involved employment-related fraud.

Despite this evidence of a genuine issue of illegal immigrants using stolen or false identities to evade the law, the immigrant advocacy group Puente Arizona argued, and the District of Arizona agreed, that the Arizona anti-identity theft law is “facially preempted” by federal law.

Preemption is a perfectly legitimate challenge to state law, and the argument that state law must bow before federal law with which it conflicts, or where the federal law is so comprehensive that it has “occupied the field” to the exclusion of any state law is at least plausible.  Facial preemption means there is no scenario at all in which a law could be enforced consistent with the Constitution.

That exceedingly high standard is why the 9th Circuit – notoriously liberal and prone to overreaching in the name of social justice causes – vacated the injunction.  The Court noted, observed that there are many instance in which Arizona’s anti-identity theft laws can be and indeed have been enforced without any connection to immigration at all.  To the contrary, Arizona has documents cases in which job applicants have used false identities not because they are illegal immigrants, but to hide past criminal convictions.

While the 9th Circuit’s decision vindicates Arizona law and, for now, allows Sheriff Joe to enforce it, it actually says very little about the law’s long-term survivability as an immigration enforcement tool.

Traffic Stops

Friday’s ruling by the Arizona District Court in Melendres v. Arpaio, doesn’t change much, but is a stinging rebuke to Arpaio. The undercurrent in Melendres is that Aripaio was subject to a preliminary injunction that:

made it clear that the MCSO had no authority under state law to detain persons based solely on their illegal presence within the United States. “[T]he fact that a person is unlawfully present, without more, does not provide officers with reasonable suspicion that the person is currently being smuggled for profit, nor does it provide probable cause that the person was at some point in the past smuggled for profit. . . .

To the extent that Defendants claim that the [Arizona] human smuggling statute, or any Arizona or federal criminal law, authorized them to detain people solely on the knowledge, let alone the reasonable suspicion, that those people are not authorized to be in the country, they are incorrect as a matter of law.”

The Arizona District Court found:

the Defendants intentionally failed to implement the Court’s preliminary injunction in this case, failed to disclose thousands of relevant items of requested discovery they were legally obligated to disclose, and, after the post-trial disclosure of additional evidence, deliberately violated court orders and thereby prevented a full recovery of relevant evidence in this case.

Defendants also initiated internal investigations designed only to placate Plaintiffs’ counsel. Defendants did not make a good faith effort to fairly and impartially investigate and discipline misconduct or to discover other materials responsive to Plaintiffs’ pretrial requests. . .

When the Court issued an Order to Show Cause and scheduled the evidentiary hearing, Defendants again failed to timely produce the evidence they were legally obligated to produce. . .

In their testimony during the evidentiary hearing, Sheriff Arpaio and Chief Deputy Sheridan made multiple intentional misstatements of fact while under oath.

In short, the Court finds that the Defendants have engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith with respect to the Plaintiff class and the protection of its rights. They have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of this Court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct as they pertain to their obligations to be fair, “equitable[,] and impartial” with respect to the interests of the Plaintiff class.

The Court also found:

Sheriff Arpaio has conceded that he is liable for civil contempt for violating the terms of the preliminary injunction. Nevertheless, whether his contempt of the injunction was knowing and intentional is relevant to the appropriate remedy. The Court thus finds that Arpaio is in civil contempt and additionally finds that Arpaio’s contempt was both knowing and intentional. . .

But the Court didn’t actually do much.  It ordered changes to procedures in Sheriff Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).  It suggested that there might be future penalties.  It said it would consider attorney’s fees.  It did not pose any tangible penalties on Sheriff Joe.  To the contrary, the Court even noted:

Although the Court again invites the Parties to comment on what relief they deem appropriate for this act of contempt, the Court does not view this act as giving rise to any relief separate from that which would be appropriate for the other misconduct set forth herein.

In short, nothing really happened, other than the Court reiterating that MCSO should really not do the things the Court told it not to do.  This reflects, to an extent, the high bar and reluctance to impose criminal contempt or to impose penalties on public figures.  In this case, Sheriff Joe’s personal fame would make it big news if the Court imposed penalties for what amounts to enforcing immigration law.

The decision was big enough news as it is:

And of course Sheriff Joe’s support for The Donald came up:


These decisions amount to skirmishes in a much larger war.  Ultimately, immigration law and enforcement is a federal matter and should be enforced by the federal government.  Sheriff Joe and his colleagues in the border states could and should be allowed to assist with enforcement to the extent they and their constituents deem it important enough to commit the resources.  But that it not the law, for now.

[Featured image via Twitter]


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rabid wombat | May 15, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Breaking the law is breaking the law….

    healthguyfsu in reply to rabid wombat. | May 15, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    which is exactly the problem with ILLEGAL immigration…any LEO should be able to detain any illegal immigrant at any time without any further cause. Law broken = detainment.

      Shane in reply to healthguyfsu. | May 15, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      Agreed, you should be detained and deported if you are illegal.

      Problem. How do you know if someone is illegal? Imagine for example we are trying to find these law breakers. We go to Wendy’s and we see a lot of people that don’t look, well white. Are they illegal? Do you think that we should shut the entire business down and march out all but a few white people (whom might also be illegal) to the parking lot and force these people to prove on the spot that they are in this country legally? What if we did this constantly to all the business in the entire city covering 6 or so business’ a day.

      You have a real problem if you think that to fight criminality that everyone’s moves at every moment must be monitored and that random stops to verify someone’s papers law abidingness is an appropriate way of stopping crime. This is especially true in this day and age when we as a people are literally breaking the law and we don’t even know it.

      This is the beginning of tyranny. Make so many laws that people are ensured to be in violation of them. Then selectively enforce them. This is the tactic of statists on the left, that those on the right so justly call out. Remember statism is statism no mater if you are conservative or liberal.

        CloseTheFed in reply to Shane. | May 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm

        You’re right: the TSA is the beginning of tyranny and conditioning Americans to obey.

        Now, in Georgia, if you have a driver’s license, and most do, you have to prove your bona fides to get that license. I’m happy to produce it, so they can arrest the foreigner standing next to me, that pretends he can’t speak English.

        Olinser in reply to Shane. | May 16, 2016 at 1:45 am

        ‘How are we going to find out if somebody is illegal’.

        … Are you serious?

        Just screw off. It’s exactly people like you that have gotten us into this situation with immigration.


        If you are a Latino in a border state, you should be EXPECTED to be asked to produce verification you are a citizen. If you can’t, you will be detained until you can verify it. That’s called simple common sense.

        And someday, when there AREN’T over 10 million illegals, a Latino can get offended that somebody might ask for their papers.

        And if we were to suddenly have 10 million illegal immigrants from Canada, then I would expect that white people in northern border states would be required to provide proof that they were citizens.

        I’m sick of this PC bullshit. The US doesn’t have an illegal Asian problem. We don’t have an illegal black problem. We don’t have an illegal Armenian problem. We have an illegal Latino problem.

        Every time I have gone to a foreign country I have been asked for my papers multiple times. Yet here we have to tiptoe around asking people for their damn right to be here.

          DaMav in reply to Olinser. | May 16, 2016 at 4:43 am


          CloseTheFed in reply to Olinser. | May 16, 2016 at 7:07 am

          EVERY state is now a BORDER state.

          Georgia has more illegal aliens now than Arizona, according to the Dustin Inman Society. I don’t remember where they got their info; probably the Center for Immigration Studies.

          Shane in reply to Olinser. | May 16, 2016 at 9:58 am

          You fucking need to go to PHX and live under Joe Arpaio’s tyrannical reigh. It is precisely people like you that have eroded the liberty in this country in the name of your pet social justice cause. You need to have your house searched for no reason for drugs because, well just because. You fucking sicken me. No idea whatsoever how real life works, you are just as bad as the stupid safe space brats that currently inhabit our universities.

          Go to Venezuela you douche and see the real affects of your ignorant ideas. Bleh, puke you are disgusting. No wonder Der Donald is the Republican candidate.

          Shane in reply to Olinser. | May 16, 2016 at 10:37 am

          Visiting another country and being asked for your papers all of the time is a far cry different from living in a country and having that happen.

          Your fucking insane view of illegal immigration is the reason nothing will ever be done about it. Do you think that you will just wave a magic wand and the illegals will go away? You laugh at progressives for doing this kind of candyland shit, maybe look in the mirror.

          I get that they are breaking the law, but they aren’t leaving on their own. And since dragnetting the whole country is probably not a good idea and Mexico isn’t paying for a wall (why do you think Mexicans are leaving their country). Then maybe we need to look at different ideas on immigration.

          Really you are just a progressive wearing sheeps clothing with magical thinking and ideas that can never work in the real world.

          Olinser in reply to Olinser. | May 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm

          Wow, resorting to rampant cursing and personal attacks. A sure sign you have no argument.

          There’s no magic wand. The ‘different idea’ that hasn’t actually been tried is enforcing the freaking law. ‘Try different ideas’ on immigration is nothing but liberal code for ‘we’re not going to enforce the law because its HARD and illegal aliens won’t like it!’

          You know what? Sure, if police had a reason to believe I was dealing drugs, they SHOULD search my house. Because that’s how good policing works.

          You know why illegals aren’t leaving? BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE LAW ISN’T ENFORCED.

          Police stopping somebody and asking for their visa is common freaking sense. And then DEPORTING THEM if they can’t prove they are here legally. Because guess what, if you are here legally, you have documents to prove it.

          Here’s how that interaction goes if you are legal.

          Police: Excuse me, can I see your visa/green card/driver’s license
          Citizen: Here you go
          Police: *Checks it* OK, have a nice day

          If you are a legal citizen, your interaction will be all of 10 seconds.

          You know why I was stopped multiple times in Asian countries? Because I’m obviously not Asian. And every time I casually showed them my visa and was on my way. That’s common sense immigration enforcement.

          Yet here not only are police not ALLOWED to check immigration status, they are actively ordered not to report to ICE even if they have concrete evidence they are illegal.

    Virginia42 in reply to rabid wombat. | May 16, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Breaking the law…pretty much what the Feds have been doing for years, and woe betide the LEO who actually tries to do what the LAW calls for.

casualobserver | May 15, 2016 at 9:53 pm

Yahoo News and NPR are well known for bias. I have never heard of Sputnik as a news outlet.

Joe Arpaio is no friend of Liberty. He is often rogue with the pols and judges unable to stop is continuous overstepping of his authority. It is easy to enemy of my enemy when viewing this guy but he knows no bounds and will do what he sees fit regardless of laws, rights and pesky courts. It isn’t just immigration that this guy will violate rights on. His outlandish drug warrior intrusions are unprecedented. Even if you believe in the war on drugs, his draconian actions would scare the piss out of you.

He is definitely the ends justify the means kind of guy.

    CloseTheFed in reply to Shane. | May 15, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    If Arpaio truly knew no bounds, there wouldn’t be any illegal aliens in Maricopa County, Arizona. He would have ceaselessly rounded them up, while the federal government was failing in its duty to protect the States from invasion.

    Unfortunately, Arpaio knows too many damn boundaries.

      Shane in reply to CloseTheFed. | May 15, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      Actually he doesn’t. Maricopa county isn’t even remotely close to the border. If we were to truly try to stop illegals from entering the country, we would do it at the border, not some city that is hundreds of miles away with an out of control sheriff running it’s law enforcement.

      The problem is that Arpaio is dragnetting anyone with brown skin … constantly. His success rate at getting illegals doing this is pretty abysmal. But still he does it, trampling all over the rights of American citizens in the process.

    snopercod in reply to Shane. | May 16, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Troll alert!

      Shane in reply to snopercod. | May 16, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Are you blind to a tyrant just because he has an R after his name? You are no better than the idiots who think that just because you are black you can’t be racist. This is the disease on the Republican party right now. No one can challenge the orthodox mob even if they clearly out of bounds. And any Dem saying that he is a Republican can feed the red meat to the mob of stupid and get elected. Sad.

    Common Sense in reply to Shane. | May 16, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Oh you mean he enforces the law?

    What a novel concept in the day of Obama’s lawless administration. We make our own law!

      Ragspierre in reply to Common Sense. | May 16, 2016 at 9:45 am

      No! In FACT, he defies the law. That’s why he’s in trouble.

      There is NO difference here between the scofflaw Holder DOJ and Arpio.

      It isn’t about what he’s done right, for which I’ve often defended him. It’s about what he’s done WRONG. For which I will NEVER defend him.

      He is BREAKING the law, and denying due process. You CANNOT support that because you agree with his underlying actions. If those are blameless, he needs to prove that. BY LAW.

Cue The Donald.
This will be worth at least a half million votes in November.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | May 15, 2016 at 11:56 pm

Congress should step up and help. If the President won’t enforce the law they should make it possible for others to do the job.

    Congress, though, has delegated much (most, even) of its authority over immigration to the Executive branch; this has happened over decades, but it very much matters when we demand Congressional action on things that both Democrat and Republican Congresses way before this one handed over, wrapped in a pretty bow, to the White House.

    This Congress, the 114th, has no intention whatsoever of reclaiming its plenary power over immigration, so much of it rests now with the president and will continue to do so. Congress critters like it that way because they get to throw up their hands and pretend they are powerless to act . . . and make streams of empty promises on the campaign trail to get reelected. They have cover on issues like Obama’s Executive Amnesty (which the GOPe supports and wish were broader), and they can rail against Obama while doing absolutely nothing and still keep their seats, their power, and the flow of money and favors.

    Immigration law is the one area that this shift of (effective, not actual) legislative power to the executive is most evident, but it has happened in other areas of law, as well (see Neo’s post on education and the DOJ’s Civil Rights division). Can Congress reclaim that power? I think yes, but it would likely require a law . . . signed by a sitting president.

    snopercod in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | May 16, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Congress can impeach federal judges, too.

      clintack in reply to snopercod. | May 16, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Yep. And when they can get 67 U.S. Senators (including *at least* 13 of the 46 non-Republican Senators) to go along, they can actually remove those judges from office, rather than just raising their profiles.

    Common Sense in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | May 16, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Grand idea but that same President will veto any law they pass that would “fix” the problem!

I suspect that these judges realize that this local sheriff could well be in charge of DHS in a matter of months. Unlike the previous holders of that office he has a law enforcement background not just a cheap degree. Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson are frauds with no management experience.

    CloseTheFed in reply to dunce1239. | May 16, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Well, except Napolitano was a governor of Arizona. Yet she still turned mentally retarded when she joined the federal government. Arizonans must have been scratching their heads at her pretended ignorance.

We already conduct profiling with class diversity schemes. It could be done transparently if our government actually represented the citizens, and traditional civil rights businesses defended civil rights.

There is also the “final solution” normalized by female chauvinists and the State-established pro-choice cult (i.e. “church”) that aborts over one million [wholly innocent] American lives annually after receiving religious/moral instruction from gods in the twilight zone.

Finally, there is planned parenthood or clinical cannibalism of lucrative baby parts.

Perhaps the next president will take an interest in Americans’ civil rights, preventing refugee crises, confronting the mass exodus from second and third-world nations, and other social justice-inspired global humanitarian disasters.

Well the law is the law. With that homily in mind, I hope that Federal Judge does not get picked up for DUI, that his children don’t violate the marijuana laws. Poor Federal chap. Once the exalted robes come off and he steps out of the Federal Courthouse he has to drive and live in the jurisdiction of Sherriff Joe — a man who knows how to fight a war.

    Ragspierre in reply to dystopia. | May 16, 2016 at 7:25 am

    It’s a state judge, and what you seem to advocate is a regime where a judge is afraid to apply the law impartially for fear of reprisals.

    We call that “tyrannny”.

    dystopia in reply to dystopia. | May 16, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Tyranny? Applying the law without favoritism is tyranny? I did not advocate planting of evidence, fraud or lying. Merely strict enforcement of the law. If his honor is drunk he deserves to be picked up, just like the District Attorney of Austin County.

    Let me bring you back to the time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff used his lawful discretion to release Paris Hilton before completion of her sentence. The Los Angeles City Attorney engaged in a public posturing. The Sheriff calmly pointed out that “the law is the law” and the City Attorney’s wife had a traffic warrant.

    If it is a State Court, enforcement of Court orders is vested in the Sheriff of Maricopa County. I am sure that the office will make sure that any contempt order issued by this Judge has absolutely no technical defects and complies fully with all applicable laws.

    I don’t know how you guys do things in Texas. But I think you have spent to much time on a high horse.

      Ragspierre in reply to dystopia. | May 16, 2016 at 9:13 am

      “Once the exalted robes come off and he steps out of the Federal Courthouse he has to drive and live in the jurisdiction of Sherriff Joe — a man who knows how to fight a war.”

      You’re a lying liar who lies. You are advocating a “war” between a very patient judge and an open scoff-law with a badge.

      “If it is a State Court, enforcement of Court orders is vested in the Sheriff of Maricopa County. I am sure that the office will make sure that any contempt order issued by this Judge has absolutely no technical defects and complies fully with all applicable laws.”

      You clearly ARE militating for the LEOs here to continue defying the law.

      That IS tyranny. You can continue riding your jack ass.

      Shane in reply to dystopia. | May 16, 2016 at 10:11 am

      ” … I did not advocate planting of evidence, fraud or lying”

      And Arpaio has done all of this. Is he such a great warrior now?

      Shane in reply to dystopia. | May 16, 2016 at 10:22 am

      You are a total moron. You need to read up on Arpaio the great Republican. I lived in Phx for 8 years. I got to see first hand what he did to innocent people. How he used his deputies to intimidate defense lawyers, steal their notes and harass them in person and arrest them on trumped up charges. He defied local judge’s (also conservative) orders. He gave special treatment to friends and cronies when they got in trouble and managed to get jail time. He didn’t care which letter was after the name of those people D or R. He is everything you scream about that liberal progressives are and yet you ignore all of that because he says he is Republican.

      You are a DUPE.

holdingmynose | May 16, 2016 at 6:11 am

As Dickens wrote: “The law is an ass”.

“In this case, Sheriff Joe’s personal fame would make it big news if the Court imposed penalties for what amounts to enforcing immigration law.”

Bullshit, and ANYBODY writing for LI should know better than to write such a deceptive and outrageously WRONG statement when the facts all say something else.

ANY penalties here would be for an open and insistent set of acts of contempt of both the court and the due process rights of litigants. I don’t give a good fluck if those litigants are people you or I like, where the law gives them rights to discovery, ANY public official MAKES DISCOVERY.

Here, Arpio has REFUSED to do what the law mandates, and it does NOT matter what the underlying cause of action is. He is denying due process, just like Dollar Bill Clinton did. He was given repeated chances to do the right things, and he simply defied the law. The court here should slap the living dog spit out of this scoff-law.

Sneaky Pete | May 16, 2016 at 8:09 am

Regardless of your ideology, you just can’t have the heads of law enforcement getting away with lying under oath without penalty. There HAVE to be serious consequences.

    Shane in reply to Sneaky Pete. | May 16, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Not if there is an R after their name then it is ok. I used to think that the Dems were the only ones that thought they were above the law … looks like I was wrong.

ugottabekiddinme | May 16, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Hopefully, under a new administration, law enforcement will no longer have to focus on individuals here illegally, but can focus on employers.

Employers who, in employing illegals, are committing a serious crime under existing federal law.

No new laws needed, because, hello! it’s already a frickin’ felony.

Dejectedhead | May 16, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Remember everyone, this kind of behavior is only acceptable if you work in the Federal government.