Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan Mouths Off, Arpaio and Sheridan Head to the Woodshed March 24

Neither Sheriff Joe Arpaio nor his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan have been playing by the rules federal Judge G. Murray Snow laid down in the ACLU's big racial profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio.

And Judge Snow is not amused.

That's the gist of a 17-page order issued Monday by Snow, in which he scolds Sheridan for a training session, where Sheridan referred to the judge's injunction in Melendres as "absurd," "ludicrous," and "crap."

Read Judge Snow's recent order in Melendres taking Arpaio and Jerry Sheridan to task.

The training session, which was videotaped, took place just before an October 18, 2013 sweep of the West Valley by the MCSO, and included the deputies participating in that sweep.

Snow quotes Sheridan's tirade at length, and goes into additional problems with the training, the sweep itself, the MCSO's appointment as community liaison a deputy who was a member of the Human Smuggling Unit, and other matters.

The judge notes that the training session is "in violation" of provisions of his October injunction in Melendres, and he orders that both Arpaio and Sheridan be present in court on Monday, March 24, for a status conference.

Snow writes that the "direction that the MCSO leaders have demonstrated in this training" raises the possibility that Joe's agency "may choose not to be compliant with some or all aspects of this order, or only facially compliant..."

See also: -Arpaio's Sweep of the West Valley Could Turn Judge Snow's Order Into a Paper Tiger -Arpaio's "Community Liaison" Participated in Sweeps Targeting the Undocumented -Joe Arpaio's "Community Liaison" and the Bigoted MCSO E-mails in Melendres -Joe Arpaio's Monitor in Melendres Appointed by Judge G. Murray Snow

After reading Sheridan's statements to MCSO deputies during the October 18 training, it's evident Snow's concern is well-placed.

According to Snow, the video has Sheridan saying the following to his subordinates:

"With the Melendres case, Judge Snow did not say that we were racist. He did not find that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was racist. What Judge Snow found was that three deputy sheriffs used the ICE training that they received by the federal government in determining the alienage of some individuals; to determine whether they were here legally or not. He found that that was unconstitutional.

"He found that we detained Hispanic drivers fourteen seconds longer than non-Hispanic drivers. So, therefore, he found that we violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment with those two things. That's why we're here today. And we have the same--this judge put the same constraints on us that a federal judge did with the City of New Orleans Police Department. And their police officers were murdering people. That tells you how ludicrous this crap is."

Sheridan goes on to say that the MCSO is still obliged to implement Snow's injunction while the MCSO appeals.

But Sheridan, according to Snow, opines that, "based on [Sheridan's] apparently unfavorable view of the Ninth Circuit, that the Ninth Circuit would not only uphold the ruling but commend the District Court."

So the MCSO will appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, because, the chief deputy explains,

"...it is not just my opinion, and the Sheriff's opinion, but every lawyer that I've talked to that it is Judge Snow that violated the United States Constitution. It's Judge Snow that violated the Tenth Amendment. The Federal Government does not have the authority to do what he did."

Who knew Chief Sheridan was such a constitutional scholar?

But there's more, much more.

See, in May 2013, Snow found Arpaio's office guilty of racial profiling Latino drivers.

One of Snow's requirements meant to remedy this situation is that the MCSO keep records of the ethnicity of those stopped.

At the October 18 training, Sheridan presents the deputies with a new form, on which they are "required to record their perception of the race and ethnicity of all of the vehicles occupants both before and after every stop they make."

(Note: the judge's order only required that deputies record this info after a stop is made.)

Then, with the video running, Sheridan gives his deputies some free advice on filling out the forms.

Snow describes the passage in the video, thus:

...Chief Deputy Sheridan indicated that determining ethnicity would be hard to do without asking and he said that he felt it was "absurd" for the deputies to be asked to guess. He then asked for the door to be closed because did not want the media to hear what he had to say. After the door closed he said they were "safe," but he then noted the camera in the room. He then emphasized that perceiving the ethnicity before the stop would be particularly hard to do.

He emphasized that there might be reasons that someone might not be able to ascertain the racial identity of occupants of a stopped vehicle and he offered several reasons why they might find it impractical. In doing so, it appears to the Court that he was suggesting to the deputies that they were not obliged to use their best reasonable efforts to comply with the Court's order.

Arpaio, who was also present during the training session, adds his two cents.

"What the Chief Deputy said is what I've been saying."Joe tells the assembled. "We don't racially profile. I don't care what everybody says. We're just doing our job. We had the authority to arrest illegal aliens under the federal programs."

In the very polite language of the court, Snow finds that "the summarization made by...Sheridan mischaracterizes and trivializes the significant period and the significant extent to which the Court found that the MCSO's operations violated the Constitution."

Snow then goes over some of the reasons he found that the MCSO's practices violated the constitutional rights of Latinos in Maricopa County.

These include: using race as a factor in choosing the location of its operations, using race "in deciding which vehicles to pre-textually stop for traffic violations," and improperly training deputies that they had "the inherent authority to enforce civil and/or administrative aspects of federal immigration law with or without valid 287(g) certification."

Snow finds that this pre-operation training session by Sheridan "defies other requirements in the Injunction," such as the requirement that any such training include "a correction of any misconceptions about the law or MCSO policies."

Sheridan's actions, combined with his obvious disdain for the court, raises the concern with Snow that,

"MCSO leadership may be choosing to present a paper appearance of compliance while at the same time fostering an attitude of contempt and subversion of the Court's orders among MCSO personnel."

The hearing on March 24 will address other concerns of the court and the plaintiffs, such as, the timing of the October 18 sweep and the apparent lack of exigent circumstances for it, that community meetings organized by the MCSO "were not held at a time or place that was convenient to the community," and that the MCSO's community liaison Deputy Hector Martinez has participated in sweeps targeting Latinos and was the recipient of bigoted e-mails from other MCSO deputies.

I do not envy Judge Snow's task. Arpaio's reign has been marked by contempt for all authority but his own, and as long as he's around, he will delight in thumbing his nose at Snow's order in Melendres.

Indeed, if Snow is able to get the sheriff to obey the U.S. Constitution, he may be able to train house cats to do the backstroke.

Arpaio and Sheridan are two really bad kitties that need to learn some new tricks. Only severe discipline will make them comply.

Perhaps Robert Warshaw, Snow's recently appointed monitor in Melendres, can assist the court in that regard.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons