Pardoning America’s Toughest Sheriff

In July 2017, Judge G. Murray Snow held Sheriff Joe Arpaio in criminal contempt for disregarding judicial orders stemming from a 2007 civil rights case involving racial profiling and racial discrimination. Learn more about James Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://michael-lacey.com/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/relevant-links/

A few weeks before Arpaio was scheduled to report to the jail, he was pardoned by President Donald Trump. The pardon was later upheld by U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton.

No one was more outraged by the pardon than journalists Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, co-owners of the Phoenix New Times. Larkin described himself and Lacey as “a constant thorn” in Arpaio’s side during his 24-year reign as sheriff of Maricopa County. Larken also declared “I think that’s why Michael and I got arrested.”

After midnight on October 18, 2007, Lacey and Larken were taken from their respective homes and placed under arrest by plainclothes detectives from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office on what they considered trumped-up charges. As a result of the public backlash, the pair were released and eventually settled with Maricopa County for more than $3 million.

The arrests were the culmination of a long-running feud between the sheriff and Lacey and Larken, who were unrelenting in their coverage of Sheriff Arpaio’s misdeeds during what their called his “reign of terror.”

Michael Lacey referred to Trump’s pardon of Arpaio as “the perfect marriage of two corrupt individuals,” and then listed a few of Arpaio’s transgressions, including the atrocious jail environment, both in the main jail and in the tent city Arpaio liked to call his “concentration camp,” consisting of rotten food, brutal beatings, and one of the highest incidences of prisoner “suicides” in the nation. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase

Arpaio also stands accused of illegally diverting more than $100 million in jail funds for his own uses, including buying nearly $700,000 worth of commercial real estate on a $78,000 salary.

Lacey called it a “failure in the justice system,” and lamented that all Arpaio drew was a contempt of court charge, “as opposed to being held accountable for the people who were killed, the people who were tortured, the prisoners who were abused.”

It was, however, Arpaio’s shameless persecution of anyone appearing to be Latino that presented the most problems. The case that actually resulted in Arpaio’s censure was a class-action suit involving, among others:

Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican national who was arrested during a traffic stop and detained for several hours even though he presented a valid U.S. visa;

brother and sister Manuel Nieto & Velia Meraz, who were arrested after witnessing deputies holding two Latinos during one of many “saturation sweeps” by the sheriff’s office;

a married couple named David and Jessika Rodriguez, who were off-road motoring with their two toddlers in December 2007 near Lake Bartlett.

In 2013, Judge Snow ordered reforms to the sheriff’s office and appointed a monitor to administer them. Arpaio appealed the judge’s rulings and they were upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Learn more about James Larkin and Michael Lacey:

Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Continue Fight for Latino Rights after Pardoning of Joe Arpaio

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