Arpaio's Chief Deputy Shellacked (Again), Judge Decries "Direct Violations" of Court Orders

The quest to make this picture a reality continues...
The quest to make this picture a reality continues...
shutterstock.com

The words of Sheriff Joe's Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan came back to sink their shark-like teeth in his hindquarters Friday in federal Judge G. Murray Snow's courtroom, where Snow again indicated that the authority of his court had been violated by MCSO higher-ups, and criminal contempt charges could result.

During the Friday status conference in the ongoing contempt trial of Arpaio, Sheridan and three other current and former MCSO honchos, Snow and counsels for the plaintiffs and defense discussed several issues, chief among them being last week's dramatic events, where Snow ordered U.S. Marshals to seize 50 hard drives and about 1,500 IDs from MCSO property and evidence lockers.

Court-appointed monitor Robert Warshaw discovered the existence of the evidence, which had not been divulged to the monitor as required under the dictates of Snow's prior orders.

Warshaw was concerned about the possible destruction of the IDs and the withholding of the 50 hard drives, prompting Snow to act during an emergency hearing held July 24, after which, the MCSO complied, and coughed up the goods to the marshals.

That evening on the local news, Snow said he saw video of an impromptu press conference in front of the MCSO's headquarters, where Sheridan, with attorney Joe Popolizio by his side, stated, "No one has asked [MCSO] to turn [this evidence] over before."

However, Snow had, on several occasions, beginning with his October 2013 injunctive order, made it clear for the record that his monitor was to have "timely, full, and direct access" to all documents related to the case.

Snow went through these instances one by one, quoting from his instructions to both Sheridan and Arpaio during their April testimony before him.

He also quoted from a hearing where Arpaio attorney Michele Iafrate objected to the monitor's having unfettered access to internal investigations.

Iafrate was allowed her to make her objection, but Snow insisted that his monitor "must have complete access." 

In February, Snow required that copies of IDs seized by the MCSO from Latinos "must be provided" to his monitor. 

Snow cited other orders where he's made similar admonitions regarding Warshaw's team's access to records, including, for instance, the "work product" of MCSO's confidential informant from Seattle, Dennis Montgomery. 

Commenting on Sheridan's statement last week to the press, Snow tersely said that he obviously "didn't share" Sheridan's view of his orders.

MCSO Chief deputy Sheridan shoots his mouth off, digging his contempt hole deeper, as his high-priced defense attorney Joe Popolizio (one of many) does nothing to stop him. Good work, Joe!
MCSO Chief deputy Sheridan shoots his mouth off, digging his contempt hole deeper, as his high-priced defense attorney Joe Popolizio (one of many) does nothing to stop him. Good work, Joe!
Lydia Guzman

He also noted that Warshaw had spoken last week about a secret July 17 meeting, where defense counsel, Sheridan and others met.

At that meeting, the subject of the 1,500 IDs came up, and there was an instruction given by defense counsel that the existence of the IDs should "not be volunteered" to the monitor.

"That violates my orders," Snow observed. "And it does so in a very direct way."

Snow said that he did not want to create another issue for the civil contempt hearings now underway, or schedule a new civil contempt hearing on the matter. 

"But there appear to be direct violations of my orders," Snow said, adding, "if I must refer this for criminal contempt, I will do so."

Snow seemed to be putting the MCSO on notice to be prepared for possible criminal consequences to the July 24 incident.

Arpaio was not present at the defense table Friday. 

Sheridan was and looked stone-faced during much of the hearing. For good reason.

Representatives of the monitor appearing by phone requested access to the original of the first hard drive that they had obtained from the MCSO.

The hard drive was created by Detective Brian Mackiewicz, the lead detective on the so-called Seattle investigation.

A copy of the hard drive was turned over to the monitor's team as a result of the revelation in April that Arpaio had hired reputed Seattle computer guru Dennis Montgomery as a paid CI to investigate a cockamamie conspiracy theory involving Snow, the U.S. Department of Justice, former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and others.

This, as part of a vain attempt to compromise Snow's court.

Iafrate objected to the monitor's request, stating there might be other material on the original hard drive that could be privileged or confidential.

"So they provided everything but the 50 hard drives?" Snow shot back, in mock incredulity. 

Iafrate seemed, as she often does, flummoxed.

Later, Snow issued an order, instructing the MCSO to turn over to the marshal the original hard drive in question and copies of 42 additional IDs not yet provided to the monitor.

Additionally, Snow "memorializ[ed] in writing" his July 24 order that "the MCSO is not to destroy any materials stored in its property unit until such time as the Monitor may review the unit and its operation more fully with defendants."

Snow asked the defense counsel if they planned to challenge the DOJ's motion to intervene in Melendres.

Iafrate and the others indicated that they wanted till the August 6 deadline to decide.

Larry Klayman, the birther lawyer representing Montgomery, was not present, and still has time to reply to opposition to his motion to appear before Snow pro hac vice.

Therefore, Snow said he would not rule on that motion yet. 

At one point, Snow conceded that the material on the 50 hard drives could well be "junk."

He said the parties could resolve whole areas of the second round of hearings by stipulation if they wanted, such as stipulating that the material on the hard drives is worthless.

"You don't know what you don't know until you know it," Snow said of the mysterious hard drives, in a bit of Yogi Berra-esque wisdom.

He asked the attorneys present to hold open several dates in September, October and November for the second round of contempt hearings.

Snow also ordered near-weekly status hearings, beginning August 11.

Friday's hearing then closed to the public so that Iafrate could address the court about a confidential matter under seal.

My take?  

What's in those hard drives is less important than Snow's having ordered them turned over. 

The denial of those hard drives is part of an ongoing pattern of resistance by the MCSO, Arpaio and Sheridan.

Ditto the IDs.

Indeed, the confiscation of such IDs from Latinos en masse suggests the sort of criminality that ex-MCSO deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz's alleged 2014 suicide pointed toward, with the discovery at his residence of a cache of IDs and other property.

Confiscating Latino IDs was (is?) common for MCSO detectives, as it has been for many law enforcement entities in the Valley.

It's a product of a de facto culture of apartheid that has been a reality for many Latinos here.

Thanks to the ACLU, Judge Snow, and attorneys for Covington and Burling, among others, that apartheid culture, vis a vis the MCSO, is slowly coming to an end.


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