“The ACLU Memo incorrectly analyzes the legal authorities cited in it, and ignores other relevant Arizona authorities addressing the scope of the Board’s authority over elected officials …. The Sheriff–not the Board–has general authority to operate the jail ….”
Those were the words of Deputy Pima County Attorney Regina Nassen in a confidential attorney-client communication regarding the power of Pima County Board of Supervisors to keep ICE out of the County jail.
The memo was released by a unanimous vote of the supervisors last week.
Supervisor Ally Miller published the memo on her website after the vote as part of her ongoing effort to share public information with the public.
Across the country, efforts are underway to block the work of ICE ( Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Arizona’s county-level officials have faced legal tactics to prohibit the presence of ICE in county jails.
Nassen’s memo then “summarizes the general principles regarding the relationship between the Board and other elected County officials,” and the “Sheriffs (sic) authority to operate the jail and reviews the specific legal authorities that the ACLU Memo cites in support of its
Nassen’s memo reads in part:
“In response to a request from Supervisor Valadez, I have reviewed the memorandum, which I have been told was prepared by a lawyer employed by the American Civil Liberties Union, entitled “Power of County Board of Supervisors to Prescribe Policyf or the County Jail (the “ACLU Memo” a copy of which is attached as Attachment A). The author of the ACLU Memo opines that the “Board of Supervisors has the authority to prescribe and influence jail policy.” That, however, materially overstates the role that the Board has in the operation of the jail.”
“As explained in more detail in that memo, a county’s executive authority is split among its board of supervisors and the other elected officials,” wrote Nassen. “Though the board has the broadest scope Among other enumerated powers and duties, county sheriffs in Arizona have a
mandatory duty to “[t]ake charge of and keep the county jail … and the prisoners in the county
jail.” A.R.S. § 11-441; see also A.R.S. § 31-101.”
“This delegation is very specific, and Arizona courts that have addressed the issue through the years have uniformly recognized that a county sheriff has significant discretion regarding how the jail is run, and the county’s board of supervisors has no authority to interfere with it. The court opinions cited in the ACLU Memo are no exceptions; not one of those cases actually supports the ACLU Memo’s central premise.”
“Among other enumerated powers and duties, county sheriffs in Arizona have a mandatory duty to “[t]ake charge of and keep the county jail … and the prisoners in the county jail.”
“The ACLU Memo also asserts that a board of supervisors can use its budgeting and appropriation authority to control jail operations. As discussed in the attached earlier opinion from this office, however, the Board cannot use its budgeting authority in a manner that unreasonably infringes on another elected official’s legitimate exercise of the discretion delegated to their office. The cases cited in the ACLU Memo do not support a different conclusion.”