Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to settle a Justice Department lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio. The federal judge presiding over a racial profiling case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio issued an order to resume contempt of court proceedings in September. Paul Charlton, former U.S Attorney for District of Arizona and partner at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson LLP talks about recent developments involving litigation against Sheriff Arpaio.


JOSE CARDENAS: Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt of court hearings are set to start again. We'll talk about this as well as other developments involving America's toughest sheriff. And learn about a new initiative that will help fund literacy programs and help prepare children when they start school. Plus find out about a college preparatory program helping first generation college students. All this coming up next on "Horizonte."

VIDEO: Funding for "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions by the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station.

JOSE CARDENAS: Thank you for joining us. This week the federal Judge presiding over a racial profiling case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio issues an order to resume contempt of court hearings for the end of September. Recently the Maricopa County board of supervisors unanimously voted to settle a justice department lawsuit against the sheriff. Here to talk about this and other developments involving Sheriff Arpaio is Paul Charlton, former U.S. attorney for Arizona and a partner at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson. Paul, welcome back to "Horizonte." We have had you on the show on a number of occasions, many of them talking about this matter involving Sheriff Arpaio. Let's talk first about the settlement. Department of justice announced a year or two ago that they weren't going to pursue criminal charges but they would pursue a civil lawsuit. What was involved there?

PAUL CHARLTON: July 16, department of justice, Maricopa board of supervisors, agreement that the Department of Justice would no longer pursue a civil case against Joe Arpaio, certain language, training programs, but perhaps most significantly as it relates to allegations by the Department of Justice that Joe Arpaio had sought to retaliate against his political enemies. All three of those aspects of the Department of Justice case are no longer going to go forward. The only remaining large piece the Department of Justice's case is that part of the case that deals with civil rights violations for Hispanics here in this county.

JOSE CARDENAS: Now, the first two elements this were settled, as I understand it, the DOJ's rationale that largely has been resolved by the ACLU case that is going on in front of Judge Snow. The third one, retaliation, there didn't seem to be anything of great substance that explained why they would settle that part of it.

PAUL CHARLTON: As you know, Jose, I represented one of the individuals who -- against whom we believed Joe Arpaio retaliated, individual by the name of Don Stapely, there are others. Judge Gary Donahoe, individuals who believed that Joe Arpaio had used law enforcement authority to retaliate against them because they took political reviews inconsistent in -- to what he wanted them to do. The loss of that to go to trial -- a neutral trier of fact and for the public to see what occurred there. Department of justice, for reasons that they have not shared with us have decided they wanted to settle that aspect of the case.

JOSE CARDENAS: As I understand, the only thing that the settlement addresses is the sheriff's promise not to do that again.

PAUL CHARLTON: That's exactly right. The sheriff's office said we will no longer retaliate against individuals, no monetary fines were imposed or agreed to. The only piece that remains in place, is that aspect of the case that deals with civil rights violations.

JOSE CARDENAS: There have been developments there, the DOJ lawsuit in front of Judge silver, and the case in front of Judge Snow. Tell us about that interaction or what is being suggested?

PAUL CHARLTON: After a two-month hiatus where nothing has happened in front of Judge Snow's court because Judge Snow was ruling on a motion by Joe Arpaio and his chief, Gerry Sheridan that asked Judge Snow recuse himself because of perceived bias. Judge Snow on the 20th, this last Monday, held a hearing after he ruled that he was not going to recuse himself. Judge Snow said that this hearing was going to go forward. He wasn't going to stay the proceedings, even though Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan said they would appeal. Judge Snow's decision not to recuse himself, and finally as it relates to the Department of Justice, what the Department of Justice has sought to do is intervene by the other case, the case brought by the ACLU, with the objective of perhaps arriving at the same outcome in the Judge Snow case that they might otherwise achieve in the Judge Silver case.

JOSE CARDENAS: Give us a -- basis for allegations of bias against the Judge and then we will talk a little more about the Judge's thinking in terms of denying the motion to recuse himself.

PAUL CHARLTON: Principally, Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan alleged that Judge Snow exhibited bias and prejudice when he began to ask questions about two aspects of what Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan had done both in the course of this civil lawsuit and just prior to the initiation of the civil lawsuit. One an investigation into allegations that someone had overheard Judge Snow's wife state that Judge Snow had ill feelings or adverse feelings as it relates to Joe Arpaio. That was the first aspect of this bias allegation. The second was an odd -- and I say odd in the course of a proceeding that is already unusual and odd, an individual by the name of Dennis Montgomery, Seattle Washington, had in his possession CIA documents that were alleged to have been harvested by the CIA and which Dennis Montgomery offered to Joe Arpaio and sheriff's office as proof that there was a relationship between Eric holder, the then attorney general, and Judge Snow. When Judge Snow began to question Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan go these two investigations, Judge -- Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan's lawyers not immediately, but some days afterwards raised concerns about the perceived bias that they believe Judge Snow had exhibited by asking these questions.

JOSE CARDENAS: This is after they both admitted that there had been such an investigation.

PAUL CHARLTON: There is no doubt that such an investigation took place. Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan say that the information provided by Mr. Montgomery, Dennis Montgomery was worthless, essentially. And they also said, at least their lawyers did immediately after that hearing that they weren't going to seek recusal of Judge Snow, but they have since changed their minds and are now aggressively seeking his recusal.

JOSE CARDENAS: Some things that have come out in the press, and I don't know if it has been in any court findings, the amounts of money paid to Mr. Montgomery and some qualms that were expressed by people in the sheriff's office, about whether this was a wise thing to do and the quality they were getting from Mr. Montgomery and yet they continued to pay him money.

PAUL CHARLTON: The public records indicate there were qualms and doubts expressed by individuals who were a part of this investigation as it related to Mr. Montgomery, that they believed within the sheriff's office itself that they weren't getting their value for the amount of money that they were provided to Mr. Montgomery. Sheriff's office designated Mr. Montgomery as a confidential informant and paying him significant amounts of money. There is some debate as to exactly how much money that is, but by any definition a significant amount of money.

JOSE CARDENAS: At least $120,000.

PAUL CHARLTON: At least some tens of thousands of dollars and some people who have said it goes much higher than that.

JOSE CARDENAS: Where do we expect all of this to end up? What is going to happen next? We know that the sheriff's office is -- the Judge didn't give him a stay pending that appeal. Do you expect the 9th circuit to act any time soon?

PAUL CHARLTON: The 9th circuit will act soon on this issue, Jose, whether or not the proceedings in front of Judge Snow -- the proceedings whether or not Joe Arpaio will be found not just in civil contempt, but in criminal contempt, whether or not Joe Arpaio will have to face some period of time perhaps in jail for violating the Judge's order. Ninth circuit immediately, and I see immediately in terms of how the courts rule by speed, but quickly will have to decide whether or not they should stay, stop these proceedings before Judge Snow until they can make a ruling as to whether or not Judge Snow should have, in fact, recused himself. As of right now, at the end of September, there is going to be a hearing to determine whether or not Joe Arpaio should be found by Judge Snow to be in criminal contempt or whether or not civil contempt will be adequate.

JOSE CARDENAS: I assume that the expectation is the ninth circuit will rule before the hearings start. At least on the request for a stay.

PAUL CHARLTON: I think the hope and expectation, you're correct, by the ninth circuit would be that they would at least as to whether or not to stop or stay the proceedings will be done relatively quickly.

JOSE CARDENAS: Any sense -- last question -- if the proceedings go forward, are we talking weeks, months, and what would the scope of those proceedings be?

PAUL CHARLTON: You know, Jose, the -- Joe Arpaio and Gerry Sheridan have both admitted that they were in contempt. They violated the Judge's orders. The only issue for the Judge to determine now is whether or not he should refer this matter to the United States attorney's office for criminal prosecution because, we say in the law -- whether or not Joe Arpaio had a guilty mind, whether or not what he was doing was something that he knowingly did, whether he knowingly violated the Judge's orders, and if the Judge finds that to be true, there will be a trial. And the U.S. attorney's office will have to move forward, or will be asked to move forward on that trial and determine whether or not Joe Arpaio in fact committed a crime.

JOSE CARDENAS: We will have likely some decision by the Judge maybe in October, and then we will see what -- if he decides to refer it, what the Department of Justice will do.

PAUL CHARLTON: If the ninth circuit doesn't stay these proceedings, I think we can expect a hearing to take place the end of September, yes.

JOSE CARDENAS: I am sure we will talk with you again in the fall to see what is going on. Thank you for joining us.

PAUL CHARLTON: Thank you for having me, Jose.

Paul Charlton: former U.S Attorney for District of Arizona and partner at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson LLP

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