Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been found guilty of of criminal contempt of court, finding that he willfully violated a federal judge’s order.
“The evidence at trial proves beyond a reasonable doubt and the Court finds that
Judge (G. Murray) Snow issued a clear and definite order enjoining Defendant from detaining persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed; that Defendant knew of the order; and that Defendant willfully violated the order by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed,” Bolton wrote in the ruling. “Because the Court finds that Defendant willfully violated an order of the court, it finds Defendant guilty of criminal contempt.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton wrote that Arpaio had “willfully violated an order of the court” by failing “to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.” Arpaio will be sentenced in October 2017.
Just got off the phone with @RealSheriffJoe. He said he was surprised by the finding of criminal contempt: "We presented a great case."
Arpaio has been accused of various types of misconduct, including abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, and election law violations. A Federal court monitor was appointed to oversee his office’s operations because of complaints of racial profiling. The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, and subsequently filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct.
The immigration policies that elevated former Sheriff Joe Arpaio to fame were the same that would ultimately lead to his political demise, and now have convicted him of a federal crime.
The sentencing phase will begin Oct. 5. Arpaio faces up to six months in confinement, a sentence equivalent to that of a misdemeanor.
Bolton’s ruling follows a five-day June and July trial, in which Department of Justice prosecutors argued that the 85-year-old had intentionally flouted a federal judge’s orders halting Arpaio’s signature immigration round-ups.
The verdict is a rejection of Arpaio’s defense: That the order was unclear and that, although mistakes had been made, the violations were unintended. Willful intent is required to prove criminal, rather than civil contempt.
Arpaio issued a statement Monday saying he will appeal the ruling and will continue to press for a jury trial.