Do Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his top brass and his lawyers all suffer from brain damage, or perhaps some form of what now is politely referred to as "intellectual disability"?
If I didn't know better, I'd swear the answer was, "yes."
That's because the MCSO is, again, objecting to the full dispersal of a so-called "corrective statement" to its employees, regarding federal Judge G. Murray Snow's ruling in the civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio.
This comes after a protracted, annoying dance the MCSO engaged in with Snow concerning the document, which Snow ordered into existence as a response to the MCSO's many mischaracterizations of both his findings and his final injunction against the MCSO in Melendres.
Initially, the MCSO agreed to the draft corrective statement and summary of the case, then balked at it, because Arpaio didn't like the press it received.
Arpaio attorney Tim Casey submitted a bunch of lame amendments, which would have injected PR spin into the statement.
Last Thursday, Snow promptly rejected these asinine amendments, and instructed that the statement be sent to all sheriff's office personnel.
Also, he ordered that all command staff above the rank of sergeant read his 142-page "Conclusions of Law and Findings of Fact" and his subsequent, 59-page injunction.
That same day, the sheriff issued a statement saying that he had "directed all Sheriff's personnel to read the attached seven page statement."
Arpaio objected to signing the statement (the judge said he didn't have to), but he went on to assure the judge he would abide by the court's dictates.
"And as I was a top law enforcement official in the Department of Justice," said Arpaio, "and the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as the recipient of awards for superior management of federal officers, the court should have every confidence that I will direct this activity to its timely completion."
OK, case closed, right?
Bzzzt. Wrong. On Wednesday, GilBride, who also wrote Arpaio's appeals' brief, asked for "clarification" from the court. Surely, when the judge indicated that the statement should be sent to all MCSO personnel, he didn't mean jail staff and posse members, too?
GilBride urged the court to "to limit its application to the sworn side of MCSO," contending that jail staff do not participate in traffic stops. Ditto posse members.
In response, lead plaintiffs' attorney Stanley Young, of the California firm Covington and Burling, pointed out that "posse members and detention officers sometimes assist with and/or are present at large patrol operations."
As evidence, Young offered the court sign-in rosters from the MCSO's last sweep, in October 2013, apparently showing the presence of posse and jail staff.
"The goal in this instance is dissemination within the MSCO of accurate information about the Court's orders, such that the Court's orders can be followed. It may be that compliance with the Court's orders can best be accomplished if all MCSO personnel receive the correct information, without regard to the distinctions that Defendants now try to draw between `detention officers and volunteers' and `street enforcement.'"
As an example of why this remedial education is necessary for everyone at the MCSO, Young cited the latest misstep by a member of the MCSO brass.
"There is no equivocation here. Despite the fact of reports in the media, there is no court finding that the sheriff's office racially profiled."
MacIntyre's statement is, of course, a big fat whopper, one that Arpaio himself made in a fundraising letter, when he called allegations of racial-profiling by his office "unfounded."
In fact, what the judge found -- that the MCSO impermissibly used race and ethnicity as a factor in law enforcement decisions, including whom to pull over for traffic violations and whom to ask about their nationality -- is the very definition of "racial profiling."
Snow is not comfortable with the use of the general term "racial-profiling," but he's noted that it's equivalent to saying that the MCSO violated the Fourth and 14th Amendment rights of Latinos in Maricopa County, because the MCSO targeted Latinos for scrutiny.
According to the transcript of an April 3 hearing in Snow's court, the one where Snow took Deputy Chief David Trombi to task for mischaracterizing the court's order to members of the public, Snow addressed the questionable passage from Arpaio's fundraising letter.
To defense counsel, he explained the following:
I also want to tell you, in full disclosure that last week somebody sent me Sheriff Arpaio's campaign fundraising brochure that was sent out on Wednesday saying...that he was being wrongfully accused of racial profiling.
Again, as with Chief Trombi, I want to be careful and say that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has used race -- has illegitimately used race as a factor, and to the extent that constitutes racial profiling, that's what it is and that's what I found and the sheriff is saying that people have wrongfully accused him of that as of last Wednesday, which was after the meeting in which he was here.
So to the extent that I have a sheriff, who I'm not going to prohibit from mischaracterizing my order publicly, to the extent that I have an MCSO that is rife with a misunderstanding of my order and a mischaracterization of it when they are the people that have to understand it and implement it, I have grave concerns...
The italics above are mine. I don't know how much plainer the judge can be.
MacIntyre is no dummy. He's been a faithful flunky of Joe's ever since he fled the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in 1996, then under the control of Arpaio's bitter enemy, County Attorney Rick Romley.
The guy's a lawyer, or was. And the county tells me he's paid almost $140,000 a year to be Joe's toady. He knows what Snow's ruling says.
But as I pointed out in my column this week, this sort of behavior is standard operating procedure for the MCSO.
Faced with a more powerful force -- whether it's a federal judge, the U.S. Department of Justice, or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Arpaio and his upper echelon play chicken, drag their heels, say they're complying when they are not, claim ignorance, and employ just about every passive aggressive move possible.
Which is why, as I said in the column, Snow needs to find Arpaio in contempt, and until Snow does, he will have to deal with the obnoxious behavior of Arpaio and Arpaio's lackeys like MacIntyre, Trombi, and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, over and over again.
As for the corrective statement, here's hoping Snow sticks to his guns and insists all MCSO personnel read it.
Granted, reading comprehension is not the MCSO's forte. But is reading the main document in question really that onerous? I think not.
Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly gave Tim Casey the credit for the recent filings by the MCSO. Actually, it was another MCSO attorney, Eileen GilBride, who authored the latest objections from the MCSO. The appropriate changes to the copy have been made. Sorry for any confusion.
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