If there were Black Hole of Calcutta for bad sheriffs, is there any doubt that Joe Arpaio would be in it?
Arpaio, the biggest un-indicted criminal in Arizona, is responsible for so much malfeasance, illegal activity and human misery, that his Teflon Don persona continues to amaze, even as the nearly 80 year-old autocrat is looking at running for re-election in 2012, yet again.
But there are signs that some of his shenanigans are finally being halted.
Such could be the case with the now four year-old civil rights lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio, in which clients represented by the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) and MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) have charged Arpaio, his underlings and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office with a pattern of racial profiling during its Hispanic-hunting sweeps of Latino neighborhoods.
Yesterday, federal Judge G. Murray Snow ordered a hearing with two hours of oral arguments for December 22 in a motion for summary judgment and other pending motions. You can read the order, here.
He's also asked for a supplemental briefing on various issues and pointed out things he wishes addressed in court.
Based on these, were I one of Arpaio's lawyers, I would not be looking forward to the hearing.
As you can see, many of Judge Snow's questions have to do with what inferences he should make regarding the MCSO's illegal destruction of thousands of documents requested by plaintiffs in the case.
Snow also instructs attorneys from both sides to address issues raised by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision earlier this year in United States vs. Arizona, where the appeals court upheld a lower court's enjoinment of Arizona's breathing-while-brown-statute Senate Bill 1070.
Snow offers the following inquiries to the parties in the case, which I think are worth reproducing at length:
In United States v. Arizona...there is no "federal criminal statute making unlawful presence in the United States, alone, a federal crime"...Such violations, as well as other immigration "status" offenses according to the case, constitute civil violations of federal immigration law.
The Arizona case also makes clear two additional points: (1) "states do not have the inherent authority to enforce the civil provisions of federal immigration law," and, (2) that "an alien's admission of illegal presence . . . does not, without more, provide probable cause of the criminal violation of illegal entry."
In light of these and the other holding of United States v. Arizona, and in light of the revocation of MCSO's 287(g) status for conducting field enforcement operations as of October 16, 2009:
1. What good faith legal basis is there, if any, for MCSO to assert that it has the authority going forward to enforce civil violations of the federal immigration law?
2. What good faith basis is there, if any, for MCSO to assert that it presently has the authority pursuant to any enforceable state or federal law to detain any person based upon a reasonable belief, without more, that the person is not legally present in the United States?
3. What good faith legal basis is there, if any, for the proposition that Whren v. U.S., 517 U.S. 806 (1996), justifies pretextual stops for the ancillary purpose of investigating civil immigration violations when the officer conducting the stop does not have the authority to enforce civil immigration violations?
4. What good faith legal basis is there, if any, for asserting that prior to the revocation of MCSO's field enforcement authority, an officer who was not 287(g) certified had authority to detain someone for any period on the reasonable belief that the person was not in compliance with the civil immigration laws of the United States?
5. On what basis, if any, did Officer DiPietro form a belief that Ortega-Melendrez was committing a criminal violation when he was sitting in the vehicle which Officer DiPietro stopped?
6. Does the MCSO continue to assert that it presently has the authority pursuant to any enforceable law to detain any person based upon a reasonable suspicion, without more, that the person is not legally present in the United States? Please identify the basis for that authority in light of United States v. Arizona.
7. What other good faith arguments are there that the Court either lacks the authority or otherwise should not enjoin the MCSO from seeking to enforce federal civil immigration law, or otherwise conduct stops of persons based only upon a reasonable suspicion, without more, that the person is not legally present within the United States?
Keep in mind that racial profiling is not just an objectionable practice, it is both unconstitutional and illegal.
Which is no doubt why MCSO flunkies destroyed docs that would serve as evidence of their culpability.
Joe's boys in beige have already been busted for racial profiling: Specifically, in the case of father and son Julian and Julio Mora --- a legal resident and U.S. citizen respectively -- during a 2009 MCSO immigration raid on the Phoenix firm Handyman Maintenance, Inc.
The Moras' illegal arrests, detention and humiliation at the hands of sheriff's deputies -- all because the Moras were brown and the elder Mora spoke Spanish and wore a Mexican-style cowboy hat -- ended up costing the county $200,000 in a settlement.
This, after the judge in the case ruled that the Moras' Fourth Amendment rights had been violated and the county was liable for damages.
Though such discrimination has been popular with some of Sand Land's redneck voters, it's becoming less so.
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Bigotry will not score you a job in a down market, pay your mortgage, or buy your kids groceries or Christmas gifts, folks are learning the hard way.
Moreover, to pay for his racial-profiling sweeps and raids, Arpaio illegally swiped $100 million from protected county funds. Some of that also went to bankroll Arpaio's vendettas against county officials and judges.
Such corruption should be the focus of Arpaio's foes in the coming election, as should the ultimate cost in legal fees for defending Arpaio in Melendres. Particularly when he's forced to abide by the pending judgment of the court.
Which at this point, does not seem inclined to rule his way.