Arpaio Contempt of Court Hearing

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The contempt of court hearing for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues. Local attorney Scott Halverson will bring us up to date.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Contempt of court proceedings against Sheriff Joe Arpaio continued today with the sheriff back on the stand and revealing among other things that he secretly had the judge's wife investigated. There was an update on today's remarkable testimony. Local attorney Scott Halverson was at today's hearing. Thank you so much for joining us again. Let's get right to it. What is going on with the idea of the -- he didn't say he actually hired or did he say -- made it sound like it was counsel. Who did this investigating of the judge's wife?

Scott Halverson: He said he passed the information on to counsel who then arranged for an investigator. After answering questions for the attorneys the judge has an opportunity to ask questions himself. Went through a litany of questions about do you admit civil contempt in this area? And yes, yes. And then he asked him questions about somewhat bizarre topics, apparently somebody had informed Arpaio that in fact they had heard the judge's wife at a restaurant say something about the judge is trying to do anything he can to prevent Arpaio from being reelected. So Arpaio passed this on to his counsel, his counsel arranged for an investigators to go out and find witnesses from the restaurant and interview people. It all turned out to be unsubstantiated and non-credible. But nonetheless, the investigation was done.

Ted Simons: He said yes, this happened. Reaction by the judge, reaction by the courtroom.

Scott Halverson: Well, the judge was very calm. In fact, at the beginning of his questioning he said Sheriff Arpaio, you've indicated you have respect for this court and I also have respect for you as an elected official. And a prepare to our constitution. He was very courteous. He said at any point in time I may ask you some very difficult questions. But if you ever want to talk to an attorney before answering I'll give that you option. Then he proceeded to ask him these questions.

Ted Simons: These questions don't seem -- Well, you tell me. How much impact in a racial profiling following a court order regarding racial profiling, how much impact does what he's asking have?

Scott Halverson: This was a departure. It was a departure from the topic at hand but certainly on Judge Snow's mind. He didn't appreciate -- Judge Snow said, I wanted to know who was involved in your office with investigating myself or my family members. Who's doing this? And so it was a little hazy as to what was going on other than the scenario we've just painted.

Ted Simons: Now -- okay. Prior to that Arpaio actually apologized to the judge.

Scott Halverson: Yeah. In the course of Arpaio's testimony, responding to questions from the plaintiff's counsel, lots of numerous videos of Arpaio's interviews where he was in the media and saying he wasn't going to change his policies, he's not going to back down, business as usually as the last four or five years. At some point in the midst of this he said, I'm sorry, judge, I have deep respect for the courts. I'm sorry. He almost made it personal. I'm sorry I'm having to go through this. I feel badly I didn't know more about the court's order in 2011. I should have known more about it. He basically apologized.

Ted Simons: He said the court order slipped through the cracks. How is the judge going take something like that?

Scott Halverson: I think that fits into his defense that I delegated this to my subordinates. He did at some point, part of his defense was that the order came out, the next day, I left, it was the day after Christmas -- I left to leave town for a vacation. When I came back it was months later before I saw the order or heard the details of it. I never understood fully the details of the order.

Ted Simons: To clarify, all of the videos showing the sheriff basically dismissing what the court wants him to do. I have tons of respect for the courts and federal courts and the judges and I apologize. He still didn't take full responsibility, did he?

Scott Halverson: No, no, he didn't. He's again pointing the finger to subordinates. He also said in response to these numerous videos he's saying he's not going to change his practices, that was in a political context.

Ted Simons: Like it's all show biz, admitting that?

Scott Halverson: I think implicitly that was there.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, there was also a situation where there was an informant that might have given information regarding the Justice Department investigation?

Ted Simons: This is almost more bizarre than the investigation of the judge's family. Apparently Sheriff Arpaio received an email or somehow was informed about this individual up in Seattle who had this conspiracy theory that the Department of Justice had infiltrated not only the federal courts, including Judge Snow and was wiretapping the phones, but also infiltrating and tapping the phone calls like those including members of Arpaio's office. He sent deputies from his office, including a posse member, up to Seattle and paid their expenses there to retain this individual and pay him as a confidential informant. Arpaio was unsure about where the source of the funds to pay this confidential informant. But nevertheless is was an expenditure of time and some resources.

Ted Simons: The informant was going to infiltrate the Department of Justice to find out if the Department of Justice was infiltrating the courts?

Scott Halverson: I think that was Arpaio's hope, that this was really a conspiracy that he could wrap his arms around. Somehow this individual would find out proof that in fact if the phones had been tapped, emails were being infiltrated. It was about a year ago he did that.

Ted Simons: We've only got a minute or so left here. It sound like he is still deflecting, still saying he didn't know this or wasn't aware of that. Is he coming off -- I don't want to say simple sympathetic, I don't want to say pathetic, but it sounds like he's coming off as someone who at best who did not know what was going on.

Scott Halverson: It's clear that he violated the order. There's really no getting around that. And his defense is again, I delegated this to my subordinates, I really didn't know what was going on in my office, I should have more on top of this. Which then calls in to question his competency as the leader of this large organization. It's also got to hurt morale, if he's pointing the finger at individuals that he's hired to work for him, I think it's got to be detrimental to the morale in his office.

Ted Simons: Quickly, about 30 seconds left. You're an attorney. Do you see anything criminal coming out of this?

Scott Halverson: This first hearing is only about the civil contempt and the judge said in fairness to Arpaio we're going to wait, assess all this and we have a hearing scheduled in June. If there's enough evidence that we think it's warranted the judge will ask for a prosecutor to be appointed and that'll be a lot of answers.

Ted Simons: Thanks for having you here, Scott.

Scott Halverson: My pleasure, thank you.

Scott Halverson:Attorney, Tempe;

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