In a bombshell filing in federal court Tuesday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan admitted that they are guilty of civil contempt, in a blatant attempt to avoid an upcoming civil trial before U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow.
Since earlier this year, when Snow ordered a four day civil contempt hearing to address allegations that Arpaio and four former and current aides have disobeyed the judge's orders in the ACLU's big racial profiling case, Melendres v. Arpaio, the sheriff and his co-defendants have sought to wiggle out of the de facto trial, scheduled for April.
(One exception: Former Deputy Chief Brian Sands, who according to his attorney Dennis Wilenchik, is willing to testify at the hearing and will not invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege.)
Arpaio and some of the others have sought assurances that the civil charges would not be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney's Office for possible criminal action, and have tried to settle the matter with the plaintiffs in the case, all to no avail.
Now, Arpaio and Sheridan are admitting wrongdoing, promising to make good, and pleading for mercy from Judge Snow.