After Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio received a full pardon from President Donald Trump late last week, attorneys for Arpaio issued a statement reminding reporters that he “was not convicted for “racial profiling.” In response, State Senator Martin Quezada tweeted his own message, or what some are calling a threat, to the media.
Quezada warned: “Don’t you dare water down the racism and defiance of the rule of law from this man. #ArpaioPardon”
Arpaio’s attorney noted that his “conviction had nothing to do with race.”
“The court’s verdict,” according to his attorneys, “does not even mention race. In fact, prosecutors admitted before trial that the Government was “unaware of facts” that would support “that he [Sheriff Joe] and other MCSO officers detained plaintiffs on the basis of race.”
“Mr. Arpaio respectfully requests that these statements be corrected, and that the correction be published in a manner comparable to that of the original publication and be disseminated to the same audience,” requested attorneys.
“The 2011 Order that Mr. Arpaio was convicted of “willfully” violating, can be accurately described as an order not to detain illegal aliens based solely on their status as illegal aliens, “without more,” wrote the attorneys.
|In an interview on the James T. Harris radio show, State Senator Steve Montenengro discusses the politics behind Arpaio’s conviction|
The actual Order prevented the “Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office] and all of its officers …. from detaining any person based only on knowledge or reasonable belief, without more, that the person is unlawfully present within the United States, because as a matter of law such knowledge does not amount to a reasonable belief that the person either violated or conspired to violate the Arizona human smuggling statute, or any other state or federal criminal law. ”
Arpaio’s attorneys noted that he was convicted by a federal judge, “sitting without a jury,” of “willfully disobeying a 2011 temporary Order (“preliminary injunction”) which provided that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (“MCSO”) could no longer act as federal immigration officers to enforce immigration law. President Obama’s administration decertified the MCSO as an immigration enforcement agency in October 2009, during the first year of President Obama’s own term. The Bush administration had previously given the Sheriff’s Department such authority, under the “287(g)” program.”
Arpaio’s attorneys argue that the “2011 temporary Order was not clear as to whether the Sheriff’s Department could still cooperate with federal immigration officers by turning over illegal aliens who were apprehended for violating some other law, i.e. during the course of a lawful stop, which was and is a “common practice” by law enforcement agencies in southern Arizona, according to the testimony of the Special Agent in Charge of the Casa Grande Station at the time, who testified at trial.”
Arapio’s attorneys claim that the issue of whether or not the “Sheriff’s Office could still detain illegal aliens for the sole purpose of immediately turning them over to federal authorities was not clarified until a 2013 Order from the court, which specifically provided that it could not.”
Arapio’s attorneys claim that he was acting “out of respect for the court’s clear 2013 order,” when he issued “an order to his deputies to stop turnovers to federal authorities.”
“Every witness who testified at trial on this issue testified that the 2011 Order was unclear as to whether turnovers were legal or not—including MCSO Lieutenants, a Sergeant, and even the MCSO’s own lawyer. The MCSO’s lawyer testified that he advised the Sheriff that he could make a “good faith” argument that it was permissible to continue to turn illegal aliens over to federal authorities under the Order, even though the lawyer thought the Judge “likely, not definitively” could say just the opposite too,” stated the attorneys. “The lawyer said that the Order was “ambiguous” even to him, and that “we weren’t sure what it [the Order] meant.” What they understood it to mean was simply that they could not stop someone solely for being illegal alien; but they never had a practice of doing that, and only detained people on the suspicion of violating some other state law or crime (like the human smuggling law). Accordingly, the Sheriff made numerous statements to the media that his office had not changed its policies with respect to cooperating with federal law enforcement and turning over illegal aliens, because he did not believe that the 2011 Order required any change to those policies, and Order did not clearly direct any changes.”
While the Order was alleged to be unclear, Arpaios’ attorneys argue that “What is clear is that under federal law, a defendant cannot be convicted of criminal contempt of court unless the court’s order was “clear and definite.”
“The Sheriff repeatedly asked for a jury trial, and he was clearly entitled to one under a federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 402. And the judge can always grant a trial by jury, even when one is not required. There were numerous reasons to do so in this case, where the court’s independence would clearly be viewed with suspicion—after all, this was a case for contempt of court, and the court was basically the “victim.” Not only did the court deny the Sheriff a jury, but it went out of its way to avoid his constitutional right to one (by arbitrarily limiting the potential sentence to below the constitutional minimum),” concluded Arpaio’s attorneys.
“This resulted in a trial for “criminal contempt of court” to the court, which was about as fair as trying a crime to the victim,” concluded the attorneys.
Arpaio’s attorneys also filed a motion Monday, seeking to have his federal criminal contempt of court conviction vacated. They are requesting that the conviction be vacated because the judge denied a trial by a jury of his peers.