Arpaio Wants You to Pay His Criminal Attorney Tab, as He Loses Again in Melendres

Taxpayers pick up the tab for Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio's attorney's fees, court costs, and settlements in civil suits. 

Political contributors bankroll his campaigns.

He and his wife Ava are millionaires, and own a number of pricey properties in greater Phoenix.

His salary with Maricopa County is more than $100,000 a year, and he has a federal pension from his time with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies. 

Still, Arpaio's middle initial must stand for "Moocher," because he wants the public to pay for his criminal defense attorney.

On Tuesday, Arpaio's minions fired off another desperate e-mail appeal for contributions to Joe Arpaio's Legal Defense Fund. 

And as in the past, it's deliberately misleading, failing to reveal why Arpaio might need a legal defense fund. 
"You see, in the daily exercise of doing my job I am often targeted by groups that file legal actions against me for a variety of reasons," Arpaio confides in the missive.

"In some instances I have to personally pay for attorneys to represent me in these cases," he adds. "I do not have the personal wealth or the wherewithal to keep up with the costly demands of paying for attorneys to defend me."

But as mentioned above, county taxpayers are responsible for all of Arpaio's legal expenses when it comes to lawsuits.

The racial-profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio, for instance, will have cost the county more than $50 million by the end of fiscal year 2016.

Payouts on other civil suits regarding Arpaio's office have cost the county more than $74 million since Arpaio took office. 

What the county does not pay for are legal fees resulting from criminal allegations, such as criminal contempt of court, a charge Arpaio may face once contempt proceedings in Melendres against him and four of his current and former underlings are finished.

These proceedings start again on September 22, a week from when this latest e-mail was sent.
Also on Tuesday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition by Arpaio's lawyers for a writ of mandamus, a vain attempt to have the appeals court order federal Judge G. Murray Snow off the case in Melendres.

In July, Snow refused to recuse himself in Melendres, as requested by Joe's legal beagles.

So Arpaio's lawyers took it to the Ninth, and the Ninth said no.

"Petitioners have not demonstrated that this case warrants the intervention of this court by means of the extraordinary remedy of mandamus," reads the recent order of a three-judge Ninth Circuit appeals panel.

"The district court’s July 10, 2015 order denying petitioners’ motion for recusal is not clearly erroneous as a matter of law. Accordingly, the petition is denied. All pending motions are denied as moot."

Remember, this petition for mandamus and all other such tricks of Arpaio's attorneys are paid for by county taxpayers. 

Similarly, county taxpayers had to foot the bill for Arpaio's two stabs at causing a conflict for Snow: an investigation into comments allegedly made by Snow's wife in a Tempe restaurant in 2012, and the so-called Seattle investigation, where Arpaio paid alleged computer guru Dennis Montgomery to flesh out a non-existent conspiracy by Snow and others to "get" Joe.

Arpaio and his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan have admitted to civil contempt in Melendres. And yet, over Arpaio and Sheridan's heads hangs the Damocles sword of criminal charges.

The sheriff has criminal counsel, former U.S. Attorney Mel McDonald, who works for the same law firm as some of Arpaio's civil attorneys: Phoenix's Jones, Skelton and Hochuli.  

McDonald has refused to say how he is compensated for Arpaio work, though the county maintains that it will not pay for Joe's criminal defense.

This helps explain the pathetic nature of Arpaio's latest appeal, and the reminder that there are "no limits" on what he expects supporters to pour into his legal defense fund.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons