America’s worst sheriff admits his contempt for courts

Joe Arpaio, the elected (why?) sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, is a folk hero to America’s far right but a nightmare for minorities, defense and civil rights attorneys, and others who bear the brunt of his blatant violations of citizens’ constitutional rights.

He’s also crazy (at least like a fox), and a showoff who shamelessly grandstands to his red-meat fan base with antics like making jail inmates wear pink uniforms and feeding them foul-tasting food; and not a little partisan, stretching far beyond his law enforcement duties with activities like his conducting own highly-publicized “investigation” of Obama’s birth certificate (which, of course, concluded the president’s b.c. is a forgery, ignoring all genuine evidence to the contrary).

The man ought to be in jail for contempt of court, not wearing a law enforcer’s badge and authority.

209660_f520The abuses under his reign are legion, ranging from an Arpaio employee rifling through a defense attorney’s confidential legal files in open court behind her back, in blatant violation of attorney-client privilege and the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to legal representation, for which the employee served 10 days in jail for contempt after the judge ordered him apologize and he refused on Arpaio’s orders, to systematic racial profiling and racial discrimination by his officers on the streets.

Civil rights activists consider Arpaio a racist and loose cannon. Far from being bothered by that harsh judgment, Arpaio laps it up, which plays well to his rightwing admirers. There’s really only two encouraging things about the whole picture: They’ve sued him in federal court, and now some of his chickens are beginning to come home to roost; and he will be 83 in June, so  unless he’s immortal, human civilization won’t have to put up with him all that much longer.

You can read about the current status of the federal lawsuit here. Basically, he’s now admitting he’s in contempt of court, in hopes of avoiding a trial. Some of the people he’s abused are pressing for criminal charges. Perhaps things are beginning to look up a bit.




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