It looks like the political leftists who targeted Sheriff Joe Arpaio has won their battle against the respected Arizona law enforcer.
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.
Department of Justice prosecutors were able to successfully argue that Arpaio purposely ignored a federal judge’s order for him to stop rounding-up illegal immigrants, what he was most well known for.
“He didn’t care about the federal court injunction,” said John Keller, the Federal trial attorney. “That wasn’t going to stop him from running his office the way he saw fit.”
The order — which was issued by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in December 2011 — left room for interpretation, according to the former sheriff’s defense. For someone to be held in criminal contempt of court, the judge’s order has to be “clear and definite.”
“The only one who understood what Judge Snow meant was Judge Snow himself,” said defense attorney Dennis Wilenchik, who revealed to the court several members of MCSO were confused about the language of the order.
According to Bearing Arms: 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.”