Arpaio Criminal Charges

More from this show

U.S. federal judge Murray Snow has asked the U.S. Attorney in Arizona to file criminal charges against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and some of his subordinates for ignoring his orders in a racial profiling case. Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton, now a partner with Steptoe & Johnson, will discuss the case.

TED: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS.
TED: SEVERAL DOZEN PROTESTERS GATHERED TODAY IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO WHO'S BEEN REFERRED FOR CRIMINAL CHARGES IN A RACIAL PROFILING CASE. THE MIDDAY PROTEST BEGAN ON CENTRAL AVENUE WITH THE MARCH ENDING A FEW BLOCKS AWAY OUTSIDE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE. AMONG THOSE DEMONSTRATING WAS A YOUNG WOMAN WHO WAS DETAINED BY THE SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES DURING A WORKPLACE RAID.
NOEMI ROMERO: I WAS HAPPY THEY WERE GOING TO TAKE THIS INTO CONSIDERATION AND PRESS CHARGES ON THIS MAN, WHO HAS BEEN HARMING MANY FAMILIES, NOT JUST MYSELF BUT MANY FAMILIES HAVE BEEN HARMED BY HIM, EMOTIONALLY AND MENTALLY.
CARLOS GARCIA: WE WANTED THE SHERIFF TO GO TO JAIL AND TAKE HIS POLICIES WITH HIM. HE'S USHERED AN ERAOF ABUSE TOWARDS LATINA AND HISPANIC COMMUNITIES AND WE WANT HIM GONE AND HIS POLICIES GONE.
TED: TODAY'S PROTEST FOLLOWS U.S. FEDERAL JUDGE MURRAY SNOW'S REQUEST THAT IT THE U.S. ATTORNEY FOR ARIZONA FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST SHERIFF ARPAIO FOR REPEATEDLY IGNORING THE JUDGE'S ORDERS IN A RACIAL PROFILING CASE. JOINING US IS FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR ARIZONA PAUL CHARLTON.
TED: GOT A LOT OF QUESTIONS FOR YOU A LOT OF FOLKS ARE CONFUSED, AND WHAT DID THE FEDERAL JUDGE MURRAY SNOW EXACTLY DO?
PAUL CHARLTON: WE KNOW FROM HAVING WATCHED THIS CASE OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, EVERYONE, INCLUDING JOE ARPAIO AND HIS LAWYERS, AGREED THEY WERE IN CONTEMPT OF JUDGE MURRAY SNOW'S ORDER TO STOP VIOLATING THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS HERE IN THIS COUNTY.
THEY VIOLATED THE ORDER BUT WHAT IS NEW IS THAT JUDGE SNOW FOUND NOT ONLY DID THEY VIOLATE THE ORDERS BUT DID SO INTENTIONALLY AND THERE'S A PROBABLE CAUSE, THAT'S A TERM OF ART IN CRIMINAL LAW, THAT THEY COMMITTED A CRIME OF CRIMINAL CONTEMPT AND HE'S REFERRED THE MATTER TO THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, THINK OF IT AS A FORMAL INVITATION TO THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE TO PROSECUTE JOE ARPAIO AND OTHERS ON CRIMINAL CONTEMPT.
TED: WHEN PEOPLE HEAR REFERRED FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
PAUL CHARLTON: IT GIVES THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE LICENSE TO GO FORWARD WITH THE PROSECUTION, THE JUDGES FOUND PROBABLE CAUSE, THE JUDGES FOUND A CRIME AND NOW HE'S INVITED THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE TO INITIATE PROSECUTION AGAINST JOE ARPAIO AND OTHERS FOR CRIMINALLY VIOLATING THE ORDERS OF JUDGE SNOW.
TED: SOUNDS LIKE THERE ARE THREE AREAS IN PARTICULAR JUDGE SNOW WANTS FOCUSED OR AT LEAST HE FOCUSED ON AND MENTIONED IN THE REFERRAL, TALK TO US ABOUT THOSE.
PAUL CHARLTON: JUDGE SNOW FOUND THAT JOE ARPAIO AND OTHERS VIOLATED HIS ORDER FROM 2011, STOP VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS HERE IN THIS COUNTY, JOE ARPAIO VIOLATED THAT ORDER AND HE CONTINUED TO VIOLATE RIGHTS AND JUDGE SNOW SAID YOU'RE IN CONTEMPT. HE FAILED TO TURN OVER INFORMATION RELATED TO AN INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY A MAN NAMED MONTGOMERY IN THE NORTHWESTERN PART OF THE UNITED STATES, AN UNUSUAL INVESTIGATION ABOUT WHAT WE DON'T FULLY UNDERSTAND YET, WHAT THE FACTS WERE AND THERE WERE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN FAIR AND OBJECTIVE, THE JUDGE FOUND THEY WEREN'T FAIR AND OBJECTIVE, THEY WERE DRIVEN TOWARD A PREDETERMINED OUTCOME, ONE THAT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO THE COUNTY'S SHERIFF'S OFFICE AND NOT AN HONEST OUTCOME.
TED: FAILING TO PRESERVE RECORDS IN THE CASE, WAS THAT MENTIONED AS WELL?
PAUL CHARLTON: IT WAS, SOME OF THE RECORDS SUPPOSED TO BE PRESERVED AS IT RELATED TO MR. MONTGOMERY AND OTHERS PARTS OF THE INVESTIGATION WERE NOT HANDLED THE RIGHT WAY. THERE WERE A NUMBER OF TAPES THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO BE NOTIFIED, WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT THEY FAILED TO NOTIFY THE MONITOR ABOUT IN THIS CASE.
TED: THE CASE HAS BEEN REFERRED TO U.S. ATTORNEY FOR ARIZONA, BUT COULD IT GO TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LIKE THE SPECIAL INTEGRITY UNIT OR SOMETHING -- DO WE KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING TO WIND UP?
PAUL CHARLTON: I THINK WE CAN SAY FOR CERTAIN THERE WILL BE A PROSECUTION. THE ONLY QUESTION IS WHO IS GOING TO BE SITTING AT THE PROSECUTION TABLE? WILL IT BE THE U.S. ATTORNEY FOR ARIZONA AND HIS ASSISTANTS OR THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND THEIR PUBLIC INTEGRITY SECTION OR PERHAPDS SOME OTHER DISTRICT, SOME OTHER PROSECUTION OFFICE INVITED IN TO ASSIST.EVEN IF THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE OR THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DECLINED TO PROSECUTE THIS MATTER, THE JUDGE, JUDGE BOLTON, CAN MAKE A DECISION SHE WISHES FOR ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL TO TAKE THAT PROSECUTION AND GO FORWARD.
TED: A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR.
PAUL CHARLTON: PRECISELY.
TED: DO YOU THINK IT'S LIKELY OR DO YOU THINK THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE WILL JUST GO AHEAD AND SAY WE'VE GOT THIS ONE?
PAUL CHARLTON: I THINK THERE WILL BE AN AGENCY WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE THAT WILL GO FORWARD WITH THIS PROSECUTION.
TED: IF IT PROCEEDS, ARE WE TALKING A JURY TRIAL, SOME OTHER FORM OF ADJUDICATION, WHAT'S GOING ON HERE.
PAUL CHARLTON: THERE'S A RIGHT TO A JURY TRIAL. JOE ARPAIO'S LAWYER ALREADY SAID HE'S GOING TO REQUEST A JURY TRIAL. AND IN EVERY OTHER ASPECT ALL OF THE ORIGINS AND BIRTH OF THIS PROSECUTION IS VERY UNUSUAL, TED, THIS CAME FROM THE COURT, AS OPPOSED IT A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY MAKING A REFERRAL TO THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE BUT IN EVERY OTHER ASPECT, THIS CASE WILL BE LIKE ANY OTHER CRIMINAL PROSECUTION, WHICH IS TO SAY THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY ALSO APPROACH THE U.S. ATTORNEY AND ASK TO BE HEARD BEFORE A CHARGING DECISION IS MADE AND THERE WILL BE, IF APPROPRIATE, DISCUSSIONS ABOUT A PRE-CHARGING PLEA AGREEMENT AND THERE CAN BE AFTER CHARGING DISCUSSIONS ABOUT A PLEA AGREEMENT. THAT'S LIKE ANY OTHER CASE ANY OTHER PROSECUTION AND I THINK WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE THE SAME HERE.
TED: WILL THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE SAY, YES, WE WILL TAKE IT AND THEN HE'S CHARGED? WHAT KIND OF TIMELINE DO WE HAVE HERE? WHAT ORDER IS FOLLOWED?
PAUL CHARLTON: THERE'S NO SET TIMELINE BUT I THINK WE CAN WATCH THROUGH THE PUBLIC FILINGS, THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS ABOUT WHO WILL BE PROSECUTING THIS CASE. AS I SAY, I DON'T THINK THERE'S A DOUBT THERE WILL BE A PROSECUTION HERE. THE JUDGE USED A TERM OF ART IN HIS MOST RECENT ORDER ON THE 19TH OF AUGUST, THE JUDGE SAID THERE'S PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT OFFENSES OCCURRED HERE. CRIMINAL OFFENSES AND YOU KNOW, TED, THAT IS THE TERM, THAT IS THE PHRASE, THAT'S THE BURDEN OF PROOF, THE JUDGES HAVE TO MAKE AN INDEPENDENT DETERMINATION OF BEFORE ALLOWING CHARGES GOING FORWARD. THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENED HERE, I THINK WE ARE GOING TO SEE A PROSECUTION, THE ONLY QUESTION IS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
TED: AND THE IDEA OF INTENT DIFFERENTIATES CIVIL FROM CRIMINAL.
PAUL CHARLTON: CIVIL CONTEMPT, ALL WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS CORRECT BAD BEHAVIOR, THE JUDGE SAYS I'LL FIND YOU SO MANY DOLLARS PER DAY UNTIL YOU AGREE TO FOLLOW MY ORDERS HERE. THIS ISN'T COERCIVE, IT'S PUNISHMENT. THIS SAYS YOU'VE ALREADY DONE WRONG AND NOW WE'RE GOING TO SEEK A PUNISHMENT FOR THAT WRONG DOING.
TED: WHAT KIND OF PUNISHMENT ARE WE LOOKING AT HERE?
PAUL CHARLTON: THAT IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION THERE IS GOING TO BE A LOT OF LEGAL SCHOLARS TRYING TO WRESTLE WITH THAT. THERE'S A STATUTE THAT MAKES A MAXIMUM OF SIX MONTHS, AND THERE ARE OTHER STATUTES THAT CAN ALLOW FOR GREATER THAN SIX MONTHS, THIS WILL BE IN LARGE TERMS DETERMINED BY THE PROSECUTING AGENCY THAT GOES FORWARD WITH THE CASE AND THE JUDGE AT THE END OF THE DAY WHO DETERMINES IN THE EVENT OF CONVICTION, WHAT THE APPROPRIATE SENTENCE OUGHT TO BE.
TED: ARPAIO CHIEF DEPUTY JERRY SHERATON ALSO REFERRED HERE IGNORING COURT ORDERS, MIS-RESPRESENTING COURT ORDERS AND SUBORDERS AND NUMEROUS FALSE STATEMENTS UNDER OATH. WILL THEY BOTH BE TRIED IN A PARALLEL LINE? HOW DOES THAT WORK? THERE ARE TWO OTHERS, BY THE WAY, INCLUDING ARPAIO'S ATTORNEY, REFERRED HERE AS WELL. DO THEY GO OFF IN SEPARATE DIRECTIONS IN THE COURT SYSTEM? HOW DOES THAT WORK?
PAUL CHARLTON: THOSE ARE APPROPRIATE MOTIONS THAT ARE SOMETIMES MADE. MICHELLE EOFRATE, JOE ARPAIO'S LAWYER, CAPTAIN BAILEY, ONE OF THE SUBORDINANTS WHO WORKED UNDER CHIEF SHERIDAN. THOSE INDIVIDUALS MAY SEEK A CERTAIN TRIAL THERE MAY BE TACTICAL REASONS THAT WOULD CAUSE THEIR LAWYERS TO SEEK SEPARATE TRIALS. THAT WILL BE PART OF THE MOTION PRACTICE WE'LL SEE IN THE FUTURE.
TED: THERE'D BE TACTICAL REASONS FOR THEM ALL TO ACCEPT A PLEA?
PAUL CHARLTON: THERE COULD BE, WE'LL HAVE TO SEE. ALTHOUGH THE ORIGINS OF THE CASE ARE EXTRAORDINARY, FRANKLY DISAPPOINTING, BECAUSE WE NEVER WANT IT SEE THE HEAD OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY FOUND BY PROBABLE CAUSE. TO HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME, AND THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE HERE. IN EVERY OTHER ASPECT, THIS CASE IS GOING TO BE LIKE ANY OTHER CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.
TED: A COUPLE OF QUOTES FROM JUDGE SNOW. LIED TO MY FACE, HE SAID OF ARPAIO. HE WANTS TO BE TREATED LIKE ANY OTHER CITIZEN OF MARICOPA COUNTY. A HISTORY OF SUBVERSION OF THIS COURT'S ORDER. IT SOUNDS LIKE HE HAD ENOUGH.
PAUL CHARLTON: THERE CAN'T BE ANY DOUBT AS TO HOW JUDGE SNOW VIEWS SHERIFF ARPAIO AND BAILEY AND MICHELLE. FOR GOOD CAUSE, HE'S ASKED THAT ANOTHER JUDGE HEAR THIS PROSECUTION. THAT JUDGE, JUDGE BOLTON, VERY WELL RESPECTED AND EXPERIENCED AND VERY FAIR JUDGE WILL BE MAKING THE DETERMINATION AT THE END OF THE DAY AS TO HOW THIS CASE PROCEEDS ONCE THE PROSECUTION IS BROUGHT.
TED: ARPAIO'S ATTORNEY, MEL MCDONALD, SAYS HE'S SURPRISED CONSIDERING ARPAIO'S AGE AND HIS APOLOGIES FOR DISRESPECTING THE COURT'S ORDER. THE THOUSANDS OF HOURS, THAT THE SHERIFF, HE SAYS HAS BEEN TALLIED UP TRYING TO COMPLY WITH THE ORDER BOUGHT UP BY MEL MCDONALD. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT LINE OF REASONING?
PAUL CHARLTON: HE'S DOING HIS JOB. THOSE ARE ALL MITIGATING FACTORS AND CLEARLY JUDGE SNOW CONSIDERED THOSE FACTORS. HE'S BEEN NOTHING IF NOT VERY CAREFUL AND METHODICAL IN HIS REVIEW OF THE FACTS AND ARGUMENTS AND COME TO THE CONCLUSION LAST FRIDAY, THAT THERE'S PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT A CRIME OCCURRED.
TED: AND INDEED, ANOTHER SNOW QUOTE HERE IS ARPAIO IS PARTY TO THE LAWSUIT, NOT SUBORDINATES. HE WANTS TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE KNOWS IT'S ABOUT JOE ARPAIO. CORRECT?
PAUL CHARLTON: IT IS AND I DON'T THINK WE CAN LET GO OF THE IDEA AND NOTION, IT'S AN IMPORTANT ONE FOR WE, THE CITIZENS TO REMEMBER, THIS IS THE HEAD OF ONE OF THE LARGEST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES IN THE COUNTRY. NOW FOUND BY PROBABLE CAUSE TO HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME. I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT JUDGE SNOW HAS BEEN SO CAREFUL BEFORE ARRIVING AT THIS ORDER. REMEMBER, THIS CASE BEGAN IN 2008 - THE PRILIMINARY ORDER WAS IN 2011, IT'S BEEN MANY YEARS SINCE THE CASE BEGAN AND YOU'LL HEAR ABOUT THAT FROM YOUR NEXT GUESTS. IT'S BEEN A SLOW EVOLUTION, OR DEVOLUTION OF THE FACTS AND THE DISCOVERY HAS SHOWN THAT IS JOE ARPAIO IS MERITING THE PROSECUTION.
TED: YOU REFERRED TO THIS EARLIER, HOW UNUSUAL IS ALL OF THIS?
PAUL CHARLTON: IN MY 16 YEARS AS A FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND 10 YEARS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE I'VE NEVER SEEN IN THIS STATE A FEDERAL JUDGE REFER ANYONE FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION ON CONTEMPT. I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY, THE HEAD OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, REFER FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION. THAT IS THE DOUBLE-DGED SWORD OF THIS REFERRAL. IT'S A GOOD THING THAT WE'RE NOW REVIEWING THE FACTS AND UNDERSTANDING EXACTLY WHAT IT IS THAT JOE ARPAIO DID. IT'S A GOOD THING THAT THIS RARELY IF EVER HAPPENS IN OUR COUNTRY.
TED: THE NEXT THING WE LOOK FOR IS WHAT?
PAUL CHARLTON: WE'LL HAVE TO SEE WHO IT IS SITTING AT THE PROSECUTION TABLE AND WE'LL HAVE TO SEE HOW THIS CASE IS CHARGED BECAUSE YOU'LL NOTICE FROM THE JUDGE'S ORDER, IT'S NOT JUST THE CRIMINAL CONTEMPT BUT THE JUDGE MADE VERY CLEAR HIS INVITATION TO CONSIDER PERJURY AMONG OTHER CHARGES. HOW THEY'RE CHARGED IS SOMETHING WE'LL PAY ATTENTION TO IN THE FUTURE AS WELL.
TED: GOOD INFORMATION. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE, THANKS FOR JOINING US.
PAUL CHARLTON: THANKS FOR HAVING ME, TED.

Arizona Paul Charlton: Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona and now a partner with Steptoe & Johnson

Melendres Case

President Biden for the 2024 State of the Union address.
airs March 7

State of the Union

Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

A cactus blooms in the Sonoran Desert
aired Feb. 28

Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: