Lawyers Debate Contempt For Arpaio And A Former Aide Speaks Out

Published: Friday, January 9, 2015 - 4:50pm
Updated: Friday, January 9, 2015 - 5:14pm
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KJZZ reporter Jude Joffe-Block talks with host Mark Brodie about the possibility of contempt proceedings against Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio.

The lawyers who represent plaintiffs in the racial profiling lawsuit against Arpaio are making a case for why a federal judge should pursue contempt proceedings against him and some of his top commanders.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the sheriff are arguing the opposite.

U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow brought up the possibility of contempt in late 2014 because leaders at the sheriff’s office have repeatedly violated his orders.

One of the key issues dates back to December 2011. That’s when Snow gave the sheriff’s office a pre-trial order to stop arresting immigrants solely for being in the country illegally.

But even though four sheriff’s office employees, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, Lt. Joe Sousa and former Chief Brian Sands received an email about that order from their attorney. They apparently never communicated the order to line deputies.

There is evidence that deputies continued to make these kinds of arrests for months in violation of Snow’s order.

KJZZ had a chance to sit down with Brian Sands, a former commander who could face contempt charges. Sands retired from the sheriff’s office in 2013.

While Sands wouldn’t speak to this issue because it is a pending legal matter, he has just written a critical e-book about the sheriff called "Arpaio De Facto Lawman."

Sands paints a picture of a sheriff’s office that is obsessed with media attention, plagued by cronyism and light on accountability.

“The sheriff needs to go,” Sands said in the interview. “He needs to leave. And several of his chiefs need to be either replaced or put into different roles.”

Sands said he supports the court-appointed monitor’s interventions in the sheriff’s office and said the sheriff's office should be more cooperative.

“Somebody needs to be working with the courts,” Sands said. “This shouldn’t be a matter of having a war over the rule of law. This should be a matter of trying to correct the action and get through the civil process on it.”

The fact that Sands has written a critical book about his former boss and colleagues could make it awkward as they all face possible contempt proceedings.

In both a declaration and a deposition entered into the court record on Thursday, Deputy Chief Jerry Sheridan said he believed it was Sands’ responsibility to communicate Snow’s 2011 order to deputies.

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