Arpaio's Attorneys Try Blocking Damning Evidence from Contempt Trial

Shamelessness must be a requirement to work for Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Just hours before the second round in Arpaio's contempt trial was set to begin this morning in federal court, his attorney, John Masterson (one of several), submitted a motion to block "any inquiry during the continued contempt proceedings regarding the investigation and issues involving Dennis Montgomery."

Masterson blithely argued the MCSO's hiring of the supposed Seattle computer guru as part of a yearlong secret effort by Arpaio to undermine federal Judge G. Murray Snow, the jurist overseeing the big civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio, is "not relevant" to whether or not Arpaio and four current and former MCSO higher-ups are in contempt of court. 

Moreover, even if the judge decides that it is relevant to the proceedings, Masterson insists that anything and everything to do with the Seattle investigation — which has cost taxpayers as much as $1 million, all told, according to my sources — should be precluded from the hearings because of the "danger of unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, undue delay, and wasting the Court’s time."

At this point is where a good comedian would do a spit take.

My lawyer friends tell me that such motions are all about preserving issues for appeal. Perhaps this is understandable considering the mountain of evidence already pointing to Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan's likely criminal contempt of court. 

Remember, Arpaio and Sheridan admitted their civil contempt of Judge Snow's orders in Melendres before the first round of contempt hearings in April.
Why, Arpaio even offered to pay $100,000 out of his own (ahem) pocket as a fine, and both men generously suggested that a county fund be established in the amount of $350,000 to deal with any claims arising as a result of their inability to follow orders from a federal court.

The April hearings proceeded to establish a record of the MCSO's wrongdoing, and to determine if their was evidence that the defiance of Snow's orders was "willful" and therefore, "criminal."

From the April hearings alone, there was enough evidence gleaned to point to willful defiance of the court in three areas: Snow's 2011 order that the MCSO not enforce civil immigration law; Snow's May 14, 2014 instruction that the MCSO quietly cooperate with the court-appointed monitor to gather traffic-stop videos from its deputies; and the violation of the MCSO's pre-trial discovery responsibilities, by not turning over such videos to the plaintiffs.

Issues involving Montgomery, the Seattle investigation and an additional investigation of Judge Snow's wife concerning random comments that her husband disliked Arpaio and wanted him out of power, allegedly made in 2012, came to light during the April testimony of Sheridan and Arpaio, who each confirmed the existence of these investigations, first revealed by New Times in June 2014 and January 2015. 

As recently published portions of depositions of MCSO employees and Arpaio's former attorney Tim Casey have shown, these investigations were done as a means of undermining the court.

Indeed, Casey testified that he learned in late 2013/early 2014 of the Seattle investigation and its attempt to gin up an anti-Arpaio conspiracy involving Snow, the U.S. Department of Justice and scores of other individuals and entities, while at a meeting called by Arpaio.

Casey said he and the other attorneys present thought the investigation was "vindictive" and "hogwash."
But Arpaio bought the conspiracy theory hook line and sinker, ordering MCSO investigators travel to and from Seattle for 13 months, racking up bills, and paying Montgomery at least $120,000 in the process.

The sheriff even donated, according to one deposition, $10,000 of his own money to the Cold Case Posse so its civilian "commander" Mike Zullo could participate in the operation.

Arpaio and Sheridan admitted in their April testimonies that what they got from Montgomery was "junk," but they told Snow that they were never investigating him, never looking into some wacky conspiracy theory involving his court.

How the worm has turned. No wonder Masterson wishes to bar this evidence from the hearings.

Indeed, the evidence and testimony amassed since April may well point to further criminal misdeeds by his clients, perjury being but one.

And this evidence further demonstrates a pattern of never-ending defiance of federal court authority by Arpaio and his underlings. 

The great irony is that the sheriff's attorneys recently attempted to use both the Seattle investigation and the investigation of Snow's wife as a means to recuse Snow from this case.
Masterson's motion to preclude anything to do with Dennis Montgomery.

But after a multi-week delay in the case, Snow denied the recusal motion.

Then, Arpaio's platoon of pettifoggers used the same information in seeking to have the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remove Snow from the case, an attempt the Ninth Circuit denied.

Another recent, ironic motion is an attempt by Masterson, et al. to keep the plaintiffs from using the testimony of a private investigator hired by the MCSO to conduct internal affairs investigations on its upper echelon. This, regarding the MCSO's defiance of Snow's 2011 preliminary injunction.

The investigator, Don Vogel, the same shamus hired by Tim Casey to investigate Snow's wife, said in a recent deposition that there are problems with the MCSO's process of investigating itself.

In fact, Vogel testified that he was "shocked" when he found out his investigative findings regarding Sheridan and others largely were declared "not sustained" by the MCSO.

Vogel was asked by a plaintiffs attorney if "something should have happened to somebody," discipline-wise, as a result of his investigations.

"Based on the information that's contained in my report, yes I do," said Vogel.

So Vogel doesn't want to go along with the MCSO's whitewash of itself and Arpaio's attorneys want to keep that out of the court hearing?

Well, you can certainly see why.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons