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article imageSheriff Joe Arpaio facing new contempt charges today

By Karen Graham     Sep 24, 2015 in Politics
Phoenix - Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was back in court on Thursday, facing a new round of contempt-of-court hearings over his defiance in ignoring a judge's court order to stop immigration patrols by his department.
Chief Deputy Gerard Sheridan was in the hot seat today in federal court in Phoenix, while his boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio sat in silence, listening as Sheridan testified about emails involving the department's violation of a key court order, reports the Associated Press.
Arpaio's chief deputy and three other top aides appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow as the second round of civil contempt hearings began. Digital Journal reported on the first round of hearings held in April this year. Today's hearings are expected to last until November.
Sheridan was questioned by the plaintiff's attorney, Cecillia Wang, saying he couldn't remember reading any of the emails he was sent, including not remembering what was said about the emails during a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting attended he attended.
Sheridan was quoted by the AP as saying in answer to Wang's questioning, "I am not a lawyer. I knew there was an issue with the case. I knew and was aware that there was (a) class-action suit — Melendres versus Arpaio — but I was not familiar with the case."
Reuters said Sheridan and Arpaio have already admitted committing civil contempt in violation of court orders, but they say it wasn't deliberate. As was reported in Digital Journal, Judge Snow's pretrial order barred Arpaio's immigration enforcement patrols. Arpaio has also accepted responsibility for his agency's failure to hand over traffic stop videos in the racial profiling case and for scuttling a plan to gather the recordings from officers once some of the videos were discovered.
Judge Snow has indicated he will use the testimony in this hearing to decide what to do on the non-compliance with his pre-trial orders. The decision by Judge Snow could include imposing fines, restitution, and even grteater oversight of the Maricopa Sheriff's Department's operations.
Legal experts cited by Reuters are also saying that if Judge Snow decides the defendant's misconduct warrants turning the case over to prosecutors, then even criminal charges could be sought.
The cost to the taxpayers of Arizona is projected to be at least $50 million by next summer. The price includes legal fees for both sides, buying cameras for hundreds of deputies, and paying for a team of former police officials to monitor the Sheriff Arpaio's Department. The cost overall is expected to rise until the department is found to be in full compliance for three years.
More about Sheriff Joe Arpaio, new contempt charges, immigration patrols, violation of court order, Racial profiling
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