Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Weasel Move to Exempt Posse and Jail Side from Judge's Order Largely Denied

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's weasel-y attempt to exempt the "jail side" of his operation and all posse members from having to obey federal Judge G. Murray Snow's latest dictate in the ACLU's big civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio has failed.

With the exception of jail volunteers and others personally guaranteed by Arpaio as having nada to do with enforcement, the judge's original order to disseminate a "corrective statement" to all MCSO personnel stands.

See also: -MCSO Flack Jack MacIntyre Mischaracterizes Melendres

In part, the judge justifies having to do this because of the misinformation being spread by such Arpaio flunkies as Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, who incorrectly insisted in a recent interview with KJZZ that "there is no court finding that the sheriff's office racially profiled."

Read Snow's latest order in Melendres.

To which, Snow had this to say:

This statement sows confusion rather than clarity. In its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, this Court set forth a number of instances, instructions and policies in which the MCSO unconstitutionally and inappropriately considered race as one factor among others in making law enforcement decisions.

Nevertheless, since the Court made these findings, MCSO and its command staff, including Sheriff Arpaio, have stated, both in public statements and in training/briefing to deputies, that the MCSO never engaged in racial profiling and/or that the Court never so found. Such statements are misleading at best.

As this Court has previously stated, it has no present intention of attempting to restrict the MCSO's public statements, even if, in its assessment, those statements are inaccurate and misleading. Nevertheless, to the extent that such misstatements stand without correction to MCSO personnel, or are made directly to them, they create confusion in the very personnel who must understand the Court's Order to appropriately implement it.

The MCSO is a single agency. Misunderstandings that affect parts of the agency that are the result of misstatements made by the Sheriff and others in command, affect the understanding of the entire agency.

Translation? MacIntyre and his ilk wouldn't know the truth if flattened them with a steam roller. And as the First Amendment allows them to lie their pants off in certain situations, Snow needs to make sure MCSO employees know their responsibilities, despite the deliberate misstatements of Arpaio and his command staff.

That's why this corrective statement came about in the first place, to address the misstatements of MCSO brass like Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Deputy Chief David Trombi, and Arpaio himself.

The judge also notes that there's overlap of duties and departments in the MCSO, another reason everyone there should read the corrective statement.

He does excuse those who volunteer in the jail, and those whom Arpaio personally certifies as meeting several criteria, most importantly, not being involved in enforcement or anything else that might affect the "plaintiff class," i.e., almost all Latinos in Maricopa County.

Yet, there are a couple of problems with Snow's order.

First, never give Joe Arpaio wiggle room. The guy could squeeze a basset hound through a doughnut hole. Allow him that opening, and he will take advantage.

Second, Snow is attempting to change the MCSO from the ground up. Such a radical approach, while necessary, neglects that the rot at the MCSO goes from head to toe, not the other way 'round.

I can understand that Snow does not want to give the defendants any ammo for their generally weak appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

Also, I recall what Snow said at one hearing, that he was establishing a record, presumably to rationalize any use of his enforcement powers, such as finding Arpaio or the MCSO in general, in contempt.

But only when Snow reigns in Arpaio will Joe's underlings pay heed. Till then, Snow will continue to encounter steady resistance to the application of his October 2013 injunction in Melendres.

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