Joe Arpaio: From Respected Arizona Sheriff to Convicted Criminal

From beloved sheriff to convicted criminal, Joe Arpaio has become the latest victim of jurisprudence run amok.

AZ Central reports:

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff, guilty of criminal contempt of court, finding that he willfully violated a federal judge’s order.

Arpaio issued a statement Monday saying he will appeal the ruling and will continue to press for a jury trial.

The sentencing phase will begin Oct. 5. Arpaio faces up to six months in confinement, a sentence equivalent to that of a misdemeanor.

The decision came after Department of Justice prosecutors successfully argued Arpaio intentionally ignored a federal judge’s order to halt his famed immigration round-ups.

“He didn’t care about the federal court injunction,” said Federal trial attorney John Keller. “That wasn’t going to stop him from running his office the way he saw fit.”

Arpaio’s defense argued the order, issued by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in December 2011, left room for interpretation. For an individual to be found in criminal contempt, the judge’s order but be “clear and definite.”

“The only one who understood what Judge Snow meant was Judge Snow himself,” said attorney Dennis Wilenchik, who told the court there were several members of MCSO who were confused about the order.

Snow’s order commanded Maricopa County Sheriff’s Officers to stop holding individuals solely for being suspected of being in the country illegally and only detain those who were accused of a crime in the State of Arizona.

“The evidence at trial proves beyond a reasonable doubt and the Court finds that Judge (G. Murray) Snow issued a clear and definite order enjoining Defendant from detaining persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed; that Defendant knew of the order; and that Defendant willfully violated the order by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed,” Bolton wrote in Monday’s ruling.

“Because the Court finds that Defendant willfully violated an order of the court, it finds Defendant guilty of criminal contempt.”