U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow finally may be catching a clue about Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his team of beige-shirted flunkies, and all the lies they've been spreading about Snow's findings and orders in the ACLU's big civil rights lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio.
Today, Snow filed an enforcement order, rejecting as "unacceptable" the MCSO's recent, proposed changes to a "corrective statement" that Snow had demanded the MCSO create.
Instead, Snow ordered that the MCSO "immediately disseminate" the corrective statement to all MCSO personnel, with the requirement that all sheriff's office employees sign an attestation that they've read and understood the statement, which also summarizes the court's rulings in Melendres.
Additionally, all staff "holding the rank of sergeant or above" must read Snow's "entire 142-page Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law," as well as his 59-page injunction, describing the steps the MCSO must take to make itself right with the U.S. Constitution.
Snow also empowers his monitor Robert Warshaw and Warshaw's staff to "verify compliance" with this order. Pop-quizzes after the fact, I imagine.
"The Monitor is authorized to question MCSO personnel, randomly or otherwise, to determine their compliance with this Enforcement Order and to ascertain whether their level of knowledge of the Court's orders is consistent with the effort required by the procedure specified above. The Monitor shall inform the parties and the Court of MCSO personnel found not to be in satisfactory compliance..."
Finally, Snow scheduled a status conference for May 7, stating that, "If this Order has not been fully implemented, Sheriff Arpaio's attendance will be required and he may be subject to questioning by the Court."
To say the least, it's pretty obvious that Snow is livid.
"The misinformation, misunderstanding, and confusion caused by the inaccurate statements and inappropriate training that has occurred throughout the MCSO cannot wait until such future training or briefing may be approved and implemented to be corrected," he notes at one point. "They require immediate attention."
The judge goes over some recent history, briefly discussing the MCSO's blunders, including false statements about Melendres by Arpaio, his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, and Deputy Chief David Trombi.
Snow observes that the defendants "have not yet provided the Monitor with the curriculum for training required by the order," thus, delaying the training of MCSO deputies on how not to racially profile Latinos (activity Snow has determined to be rampant throughout the sheriff's office), and adding to the monitor's final bill.
By now, I hope Snow sees the MCSO's obstinate actions as part of a pattern of defiance of his authority. That pattern stretches back several years, to the MCSO's destruction of evidence in Melendres, for which it was sanctioned, and the MCSO's violation of Snow's initial order in Melendres, for which it was not.
Though Arpaio and the MCSO have been found guilty of violating the constitutional rights of Latinos in Maricopa County, of impermissibly using race during law enforcement actions, and of persistent violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the nose-thumbing has continued.
Arpaio and his top law dogs have repeatedly misinformed MCSO deputies and the public about Snow's rulings, which is why Snow dressed down Chief Deputy Sheridan and Deputy Chief Trombi in separate hearings.
Snow then ordered that the MCSO author a corrective statement with the assistance of the plaintiffs for his approval, one that would be sent out to all MCSO employees.
Casey submitted that statement on April 10. But media reports on the statement were not to Arpaio's liking. Arpaio thought the Fourth Estate made him look like he was acknowledging the judge's findings as correct.
Which, to an extent, he has, as Arpaio is not challenging Snow's ruling as it applies to MCSO sweeps. The MCSO's appeal of Melendres to the Ninth Circuit is limited in that it basically argues that Snow's ruling was too broad. It does not contest Snow's findings regarding the MCSO's racial-profiling ways.
Nevertheless, on April 15, Casey belatedly suggested amendments to the corrective statement that amounted to PR spin for the sheriff.
This, after Casey had written in his April 10 filing that he believed Arpaio was willing to sign the original draft of the statement.
Snow's swift, angry reaction was to be expected. Now he's ordering that the corrective statement be sent out without Arpaio's signature, and without any PR spin by Arpaio.
Thing is, Snow has to know that his struggles with Arpaio will not end here. Arpaio will continue to play his game of pseudo-acquiescence, followed by insubordination. And he will play it up till the point that it will force Snow's hand.
Arpaio relishes this game of chicken, at which he's a past-master. And it would not surprise me one bit if, seeing the media splash garnered by the feds' conflict over the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, Arpaio wants to go sovereign citizen on Judge Snow.
Meaning a crisis may be inevitable. But Snow must in the future react quickly to any nose-thumbing by Arpaio and his underlings. And dressing down Joe's flunkies or his lawyer is meaningless at this point.
Arpaio himself must be held accountable. Or the shenanigans will never cease.
For instance, Snow already should be requiring Arpaio's presence at that May 7 meeting, not making it contingent on future compliance.
Allowing Arpaio wiggle room is only seen as weakness in the MCSO camp. Haul Arpaio before you ASAP and grill him, Judge. And if he gives you any lip, cite him for contempt.
Anything less will not serve you well if Arpaio ends up turning the MCSO's new headquarters into Bundy Ranch II.
Update 4:39 p.m.: The MCSO just released the following statement regarding Snow's order.
April 17, 2014
The following is a statement provided by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in response to Judge Murray Snow's Enforcement Order issued by the court today, April 17, 2014.
"This afternoon I directed all Sheriff's personnel to read the attached seven page statement.
"And as I was a top law enforcement official in the Department of Justice 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.
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"Additionally, the court previously requested my signature to be part of this statement, which I opposed. So I am pleased that today the court recognized my position on the matter and my signature will be not a part of this statement."
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