Sheriff Joe Arpaio Contempt of Court Charges

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A federal judge ruled that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three of his top aides are in civil contempt of federal court because they all violated a court order to stop racial profiling. Jude Joffe-Block, senior field correspondent for Fronteras: The Changing America Desk for KJZZ Radio, Paul Charlton, former U.S. Attorney for Arizona, and Alessandra Soler, executive director for the ACLU of Arizona discuss the ruling.

Richard Ruelas: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizonte." I'm Richard Ruelas, in for José Cárdenas. We'll talk about the civil contempt of court charges against sheriff Joe Arpaio. And in "Sounds of Cultura," an exhibition of photos taken as part after cultural exchange between photographers from Mexico and Arizona.

Richard Ruelas: All this coming up next on "Horizonte."

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Richard Ruelas: Last week, a federal judge ruled that Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio and three of his top aides are in civil contempt of federal court because they violated a court order to stop racial profiling. Joining me to talk about the ruling is Jude Joffe-Block, senior fielder correspondent for "Fronteras: The changing America Desk" at KJZZ Radio. Paul Charlton, former U.S. attorney for Arizona, and also partner at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson. And Allessandra Soler, executive director for the ACLU of Arizona, who is one of the agencies that brought, one of the groups that brought this suit. Thank you all for joining us. What surprised you -- the media talked about this ruling as being not a surprise, but we knew the judge was going to do this. What in the ruling surprised you, if anything?

Alessandra Soler: I think 162 pages was probably a little surprising to all of us. There really -- this has been a very thoughtful judge. I think we weren't -- we weren't surprised, we were expecting a lot of this. I think many of us, there were probably questions about whether or not he could have spent a little bit more time talking about the controversial done news Montgomery investigation, or the investigation into the sheriff's investigation into the judge's wife, but I think for the most part, he was very specific, provided a case, an example after example of where the sheriff disobeyed these court orders. He completely violated a preliminary injunction that the judge issued, that prevented that ordered the sheriff to stop engaging in these enforcement practices, and provided other examples of where he also violated the orders.

Richard Ruelas: You were in court every day covering this, does the ruling pretty much summarize what you saw, was there something that he highlighted that you didn't quite expect would be highlighted?

Alessandra Soler: I think throughout the -- there were disthis contempt hearing lasted more than 20 days. There was 20 days of testimony and a day of closing arguments. And the judge really didn't speak that much until the very end, at which point he telegraphed some of what we saw in the actual order on the very last day, he said something to the effect of that he was concerned that those sheriff Arpaio and chief deputy Jerry Sheridan had misrepresented some facts under oath. And so he did flag that in that last day, so that was a theme in this order. So that was, again, consistent with something that he raised.

Richard Ruelas: Since I'm not a lawyer, I'll turn to one. The difference between civil contempt and what might be the next step, which would be criminal contempt of court. What is the difference between those two?

Paul Charlton: You could easily define it with one word. That's "intentional." The judge uses that word time after time after time, what he says is, that we can all agree, because Arpaio's lawyers have agreed, that there was a violation of the court's orders, civil contempt. What is surprising, and at least novel in a public record is that the judge said you intentionally violated my orders. That opens up the door for criminal prosecution, and the very last sentence, the very last page of this order the judge says by may 31st, you will have an opportunity to try to convince me whether I'm wrong on the facts, or whether or not in the exercise of my discretion, I should refer this to the U.S. attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution.

Richard Ruelas: If you are in violation of the order but you did so through neglect or carelessness, maybe not thinking that much about what the judge meant, that's civil and that's possibly not in criminal violation?

Paul Charlton: That's exactly right. So in -- that's a concept that's held throughout the law. If I bump into you accidentally that's an accident. If I do so intentionally it could be a crime. Here if the judge find, as he has found this, was an intentional violation of his orders, there are criminal ramifications. Civil contempt means there may be some vehicle, some instrument we can use to correct your behavior. And the judge spent a lot of time talking about what we could still do to correct the behavior the ACLU has brought to the public's attention. What the judge is contemplating and asking all of the parties to weigh in on is whether or not there needs to be a punishment for these wrongs. Different than corrective behavior, but punishment and possible deterrent for others who may dot same.

Richard Ruelas: We're going to dive into what is in the ruling, but we should give the sheriff's office a chance to respond. Arpaio has said he can't actually be interviewed about this case, but he did send over a statement that -- signed by his attorneys that essentially says they received the court's finding of fact and various civil contempt findings relating to the four individuals in this case, and they have begun reading and analyze the lengthy document, and expect to file a responsive memorandum and they will continue to comply with the court's orders as it has done since January 2014. But in the ruling it does say that essentially the sheriff's office seems to have gone through some lengths to not follow the directives of the judge, and the judge didn't seem very happy about it, reading the rulings of -- as you mentioned, one of the things the judge says is in the testimony during the evidentiary hearing, sheriff Arpaio and deputy Sheridan made multiple intentional misstatements of fact while under oath, and that the defendants intentionally failed, there's that word again, to implement the court's preliminary injunction in this case. Did you know this was going on? Did you know after the judge's ruling, did you know that the office was not following through?

Alessandra Soler: Well, this has been a pattern from the very beginning. I think one of the -- we had raised some concerns about the destruction of evidence in this case. This was before this year's -- last year's trial. They had been deliberately -- this is the most sued sheriff in America. This is a sheriff who has been litigated lots and lots of times. And he knew very well that when you're a subject and a defendant in a case you shouldn't be destroying evidence. And we've had time after time evidence, examples of where they were deliberately destroying the documents in the case. They weren't complying with discovery, which is when both sides are sharing information. And that's what the judge examples there. I think the other piece, when it comes to the destruction of evidence, which is one of the examples that he cited of why Arpaio is in contempt, was that they were deliberately -- these internal investigations were sham proceedings, as the judge describes them, where they were deliberately delaying investigations or they were assigning officers who had a conflict of interest to investigate. These very serious allegations, these are deputies, they were stealing from people. That is -- they were stealing passports, money, identification, the judge spend as lot of time going through those examples.

Richard Ruelas: To get into some of the stories we don't often have time to cover, that there were trophies being taken by employees of the human smuggling unit of -- and that they might have been kept in offices of -- what kind of -- what was that discussion like in court as far as the trophies being taken?
Jude Joffe: We heard testimony from representatives of the sheriff's office who said that they had a practice of taking items from drop houses for training purposes, but there would be trainings, for example, if there was perhaps like human smugglers had a drop house where they were holding migrants, that there might be certain religious statues, or things like that, that might help other deputies sort of notice some -- be able to see some of the telltale signs, perhaps, of a drop house. And the -- we were explained by their witnesses that the I.D.s was also for training purposes, that this was training to see if you could decipher a fake or fraudulent I.D., and so there was a practice of seizing I.D.s that were fake and fraudulent. In this order, judge snow says that those arguments are not credible, that -- and he actually goes after the internal affairs investigator and says that this premise, that taking the items was for training purposes, take-away concern at face value, and he finds it problematic and that's actually an example where the judge goes even further than I think we expected and said, in fact some of these internal affairs investigations that the sheriff's office has completed are void, because they were not done properly. And so this is kind of leaving this really interesting question of what happens next, if -- how do you redo some of those internal affairs investigations? Should it be done by a third party? Should the court have oversight? So the judge in this case has raised those as possibilities and has given the parties an opportunity to respond to those proposals, and that's going to be in the next phase of this next remedy phase of the case.

Richard Ruelas: It seems like the judge is saying that what you're providing me is a cover story, and I'm not buying it. Although the sheriff's office would insist indeed that is what happened. And then there's the matter of the deputy ARMANDERAS whose house, and he appeared to be a deputy who took his own life, but in his house they find documents, recordings, you would ask the ACLU would ask for recordings of stops, it appeared they were equipment given to deputies but there was no rhyme or reason about what to do with those stops.

Alessandra Soler: I think the ARMANDERAS case is an example of just the lack of oversight and accountability that has been come to light as a result of this case. That you had deputies out there who had been instructed by MCSO, senior sort of top brass, to record these stops as -- that were part of the human smuggling unit but there was no policies in place regulating and smelling out what they were going to do with those recordings. And so that was one of the recommendations, the judge had ordered when this came to light, the judge had ordered MCSO to conduct its own internal investigation, to collect quietly all of those recordings.

Richard Ruelas: there's a thought, if you send an email to the deputies saying if you have incriminating evidence, turn it in, they may not. And he said we're going to figure out a way to make it so the deputies without knowing we're going to ask this, are being compelled to give us this evidence. That's not what happened.

Alessandra Soler: That's not what happened. In fact, one of the members of his senior leadership team sent an email out, sent a memo out to everyone saying, please turn over your recordings. Obviously there were many, many recordings that were not submitted. And that was -- that ironically, the -- out of all of these examples where you had deputies engaging in misconduct, he was the only member of the MCSO team that was actually suspended. Hoe was suspended for a week for how he handled these various internal investigations, and then subsequently was promoted. And I think the judge uses that this and says this, is clearly an indication of serious problems with lack of oversight.

Richard Ruelas: And they ask the monitor if -- the judge makes notes the monitor had asked, had an email gone out to the deputies and that sands had said, no, I'm not aware of one, despite having ordered the email to be sent.

Paul Charlton: The judge uses such extraordinary strong language, phrases like "cover-up," "white wash," "sleight of hand," phrases I've never in my career heard described of a leader of law enforcement, it's an extraordinary finding.

Richard Ruelas: Do you think, Arpaio just filed his signatures to run for another term. How is the public reaction on this? I don't know if you have a gauge or this, or what your thoughts are as far as election. Much of it I imagine turns after the may 31st sentencing, I don't know if we want to play a speculation game.

Paul Charlton: Well, it's not a sentencing yet. We'll see, it's going to be a hearing --

Alessandra Soler: a hearing on figuring out what the answers are.

Paul Charlton: What's going to happen. And as I think Jude pointed out in a tweet today, the lawyers for Arpaio and some of his other deputies have asked for a 90-day extension, which they may have good legal cause to do, but as it relates to the election, it may be a strategically smart request as well, because you put off the time frame in which an individual may be found possibly under investigation, and eventual prosecution by the U.S. attorney's office.

Richard Ruelas: Did you think when you brought this case to light that we would be here?

Alessandra Soler: No. I Frankly -- I -- when we brought the case in 2008, we knew this was a huge case, it's a class action case where we're representing every Latino motorist in Maricopa County. And this is really the civil -- the contempt piece has been really a distracting piece. We should be now implementing a very excellent order that is intended to completely reform this agency. And implementing policies against racial profiling, early intervention system, data collection, body cameras. These are all very -- these are best practices that came out of this order, and we should be focusing our efforts and resources on implementing those. And working to reform the agency. But instead, there's been this diversion, because he has been this -- this is a recalcitrant sheriff and it's not just a question of negligence, I mean, he's willfully disobeying these orders. And it hasn't made the judge very happy.

Richard Ruelas: Disregard for the orders of this court. Again, maybe not -- no longer talking about how this case began, which was racial profiling, but now looking at the conduct of the sheriff's office.

Alessandra Soler: And it takes away from the victims. The victims are the ones that are suffering here. Civil contempt is intended to vindicate the rights of the victims.

Paul Charlton: As are we the taxpayers to the tune of $41 million, at least, so far. For this lawsuit.

Jude Joffe: And I think it's also important to remember that the sheriff does have a strong following, and I was visiting his Facebook page recently just to sort of see what the reactions were on there from the public to the order, and while there were a few critics on there, the overwhelming people posting were sort of saying, we support you, the judge is wrong, you were doing the right thing, and the federal judge doesn't understand that. And so there is definitely a portion of the electorate who might not necessarily interpret this order as a negative. It might be able to be fun as something that could be effective in Arpaio's campaigning. So that's what we -- remains to be seen in the rest of the election season.

Richard Ruelas: That he's being punished as his supporters would say, of trying to enforce the law. It will be interesting to see what happens after may 31st. Let's talk again.

Alessandra Soler: Thanks for having us.

Paul Charlton: Thank you.

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Richard Ruelas: "Through Each Others Eyes" encourages people around the world to appreciate diverse cultures through photography. An exhibition of photographs, "Sonora & Arizona," is the result of the eighth cultural exchange between photographers from Mexico and Arizona. Here to talk about the exhibit is David Moore, one of the photographers part of the exchange. And Errol Zimmerman, cofounder of "Through Each Others Eyes." Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us.

Errol Zimmerman: Thank you.

David Moore: It's a pleasure.

Richard Ruelas: Tell us how you started this, what the inspiration was for this group.

Errol Zimmerman: Well, the inspiration was for having an opportunity for photographers to travel and document another culture, and to see a documented -- document a culture that's different from their own. And we began with the Phoenix sister cities commission, and after a number of exchanges, we then became our own nonprofit. And we've had 11 exchanges with photographers -- 11 countries are involved, and we've had more than 35 different photo exchanges with these countries.

Richard Ruelas: And you talk about not just photographing the country, but photographing the culture. Explain the difference. What do you see the difference being?

Errol Zimmerman: The country, it's more than landscapes, because we want to photograph people and how they live, and the normal activities. We want ceremonies, of course, but we want to show people and how they live in these countries from our perspective. As a visitor.

Richard Ruelas: How do you take that assignment, what do you think about as you walk through a country and look for what to train your camera on?

David Moore: You shoot everything. But you're thinking about the people. We do some landscapes to show the country they live in, but we do try and focus on people, or animals.

Richard Ruelas: There's a stunning shot of the sunset at rocky point, so I know you do take -- there are landscape shots out there, but particularly I guess part of it is where you are guided to visit, right? These are not -- you're not just let loose, you're being -- at some point guided to where to go?

David Moore: We are. We start at one location in SONOROA and head down, but they weren't taken out to see a group of Indians, and -- we could never have gotten access as tourists to a spot like that, without having our friends in Mexico help us.

Richard Ruelas: We'll look at some of your images, and guide us through. Here's the four, the two, you're obviously on the right, the two of you going and the two Mexican photojournalist who's came up. What do -- what are your guidance for them as they come to Phoenix and to -- where do you take them?

Errol Zimmerman: We take them -- first of all, the photographers kind of request things they are interested in. And then we try to honor those requests. And here in Arizona, most people at some point want to go to the north, they want to photograph Native American culture, and so we try to -- it's kind of a wish list, just as David and Jason gave a wish list to our friends in Mexico.

Richard Ruelas: This is again the tribe was.

David Moore: Seri Indians.

Richard Ruelas: If you wish to tell us what we're looking at, this is again, this is something you wouldn't -- you would have to be guided to --

David Moore: we came to the -- what is the town they're in?

David Moore: Well, there's two towns,, and once we got there, they led us down towards the gulf, and we got on to some -- went over to the island. And we met the -- first we met the chief and some people that were going to give us a tour. And we went over to isle of Tiberon, the largest island in the gulf, and we met -- we watched them put their face paint on, the ladies put face paint on everybody, and then they did a ceremonial dance.

Richard Ruelas: And then we're looking at you gathered around the candles --

David Moore: this was the virgin Guadalupe celebration, and this was one of the shots that I took there of the religious ceremony. So part of the culture, religion, fishing, the TOPANGAS that went over there, and of course the landscapes.

Richard Ruelas: Again, this is part of the area we don't -- the landscape images that we can show next, I think it's part of the country we don't normally see. How do you pick where the -- what is the wish list like going the other way?

David Moore: The wish list for our photographers in Mexico, I think it covers the gamut, because each photographer is different. We've had 16 photographers now participate too in each exchange, but they were so happy to get the Indians.

David Moore: That was unbelievable.

Richard Ruelas: How often does this exchange take place, and what's the gap like between when we get to have an exhibit like we're going to see this month?

David Moore: It's been a little while, we had a little bit of trouble finding a place to host it, but it's being hosted this Friday night at the Mexican consulate. And the consulate general has been very nice to allow us to be there and show, and Juan and Ruiz are coming up to be there, so it will be --

Errol Zimmerman: a nice reunion.

David Moore: They're showing their photos --

Errol Zimmerman: yes, their photos of Phoenix, Jerome and some other places that we took them to.

Richard Ruelas: I saw some images on Roosevelt row, which again, seeing downtown Phoenix through a different eye.

David Moore: First Fridays was a fun event for them.

Errol Zimmerman: Normally it's every two or three years that we have an exchange. By the time we shoot it and the exhibits are done, and we start a new one.

Richard Ruelas: Excellent. We'll see you there at the consulate. Thank you gentlemen for joining us this evening.

Richard Ruelas: And thank you. That's or show for tonight. Thanks for watching from all of us here at "Horizonte," and your Arizona PBS station. I'm Richard Ruelas, have a good evening. 13:30:32:19 Captioning Performed By LNS Captioning www.LNScaptioning.com

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Jude Joffe-Block: Senior Field Correspondent for Fronteras: The Changing America Desk for KJZZ Radio,Paul Charlton: Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona,Alessandra Soler: Executive Director for the ACLU of Arizona

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