Police Abuse

Could Sheriff Joe Arpaio End Up Wearing Pink Underwear In His Own Jail?

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy


Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Oh, OK. Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is unlikely to bake under the desert sun, wearing his prisoners' trademark pink underwear in one of his signature jail tents any time soon. He runs a county jail, after all, and he faces federal criminal charges. But after two decades of spying on political opponents, abusing prisoners, terrifying immigrants, and taxpayers picking up the tab for all of the above, it's fun to think about.

The toughest sheriff in America's current troubles were telegraphed exactly a year ago, when U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow, who had earlier ordered Arpaio and company to stop targeting Latinos for extra scrutiny and mistreatment, blew his stack in court.

But at the hearing on Monday, Judge Snow said that Mr. Arpaio and the chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, had blatantly flouted his order, pointing as evidence to a video of a briefing that the two men held in October for a group of rank-and-file deputies who participated in a crime-suppression operation in southwest Phoenix. In the video, Mr. Sheridan called Judge Snow's order "ludicrous" and "absurd," and compared the restrictions the courts had placed on them to those imposed on the beleaguered New Orleans Police Department, whose officers, he said, "were murdering people."

"That tells you how ludicrous this crap is," Mr. Sheridan of the judge's order, as a videocamera recorded his every word.

Mr. Arpaio spoke next, telling the deputies, "What the chief deputy said is what I've been saying," adding, "We don't racially profile, I don't care what everybody says."

Last week, Arpaio "acknowledged he violated U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow's orders on three instances, including a 2011 court order to stop detaining people solely on the suspicion they are in the country illegally." The admission came as part of an effort to keep his penalty in civil court—maybe, he suggested, he could make a tax-deductible charitable donation.


"I want to see personal sacrifice," commented Judge Snow. "I'm still toying with criminal contempt as a personal punishment."

Criminal contempt could mean that Arpaio will have actual skin in the game, rather than cash donated by his nativist fans.

There are few times I want to contemplate an octogenarian in pink skivvies, but this is one of them. Even if it's unlikely to come to pass.

NEXT: Indiana's So-Called 'Right to Discriminate' Law Appears Very Similar to Existing Federal Law

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  1. Too bad the Feds can’t get this hot for justice in the cases of folks like James Clapper and Lois Lerner. That would be even funner.

    1. Eric Holder? Don’t I remember Eric Holder laughing off a contempt of congress beef?

  2. “I want to see personal sacrifice,” commented Judge Snow. “I’m still toying with criminal contempt as a personal punishment.”

    And that remark would help Arpaio in an appeal. You have to clothe such sanctions in serious language about the court, respect and upholding authoirty of judiciary, etc. Not “Imma gonna stick it to this guy” and “toying” does not help this at all.

    1. Not really, judges are granted some degree of latitude in how they enforce their orders; the legal system will break down spectacularly if ever people get the idea they can defy its orders.

      And Arpaio in word, and deed, violated both the spirit and the letter of the order.

      1. I have dealt with both civil and criminal contempt – the bar for criminal is much higher, and if the judge had just stuck with the serious side of this, it would probably hold up….instead, it is now more doubtful.

  3. The sheriff upholds the laws he likes and disregards the rulings he doesn’t? That doesn’t sound like the law and order man that we’ve been sold.

    1. Sounds like the Obama administration though.

    2. But it sounds EXACTLY like the way Obama interprets the immigration laws of this country, doesn’t it? Yeah, he even said so, explicitly. You can’t have it both ways.

  4. Jesus. Do. Not. Ever. Criticize a judge’s order against you in public like that. What the hell is wrong with them?

    1. For normal people, no. People who provide courtroom security, and people who are elected and report to nobody else can get away with that. While it’s generally a good thing that sheriffs don’t report to mayors or county administrators, Arpaio illustrates the down side of that.

      1. Well, the county sheriff and the deputy have nothing to do with security at federal facilities or for federal judges. All local officials are, at the very least, answerable to federal court these days.

        This case would have likely gone nowhere in state court precisely because the courts and judges are “protected” by this guy and (more importantly) judges are elected by the same people that elect Arpaio (time and again despite verifiable reports of civil rights abuses).

  5. Yet, a douchebag like this, still remains locking all sorts of folks up and violating their liberty. If he were in charge of a security company, it would probably go out of business.

    Or if he and his officers were this bad, they might not make it home as others wouldn’t take their abuse and defend themselves. In a free society, violations of one liberty can be defended against immediately, whereas politicians, etc, are shielded from consequenses.

    They are locking you up, taking your stuff, killing your loved ones, or your pets?….well just wait four years and you can “vote” to get them out of office. If other folks still vote for them, tough crap, try again in another four because they can violate your liberty, you have no say and fytw!!

  6. Oh, and I guaran-fucking-tee you that he won’t be wearing those pretty pink panties. Either the jail will have a sudden change of policy, or he’ll be assigned to a special unit (in another jurisdiction) or something.

  7. Hooray for the federalization of local policing, because that’ll get the prick we don’t like!!!!!

    Fortunately, there could never possibly be any negative results from that kind of policy.

    1. charging and convicting municipal amd state officials with federal crimes is not “federalizing local policing”. Arpaio has engaged in flagrant corruption and out of control violence for years. If anything, his outlandish politics have inculcated him from Federal review because KULTUR WAR!!!

      1. He’s being charged with contempt for allegedly ignoring a court order relating to racial bias in policing. If they bring him up on corruption charges then bravo. This isn’t the same thing.

  8. (1) If he’s tried for criminal contempt, will he get a jury trial, or a trial by judge alone (as Supreme Court precedent allows in many criminal contempt cases)?

    (2) If he doesn’t get a jury trial, what do H&R people think about that?

    1. Somehow I find it exceedingly difficult to get upset about the due process rights of those who have made a career out of abusing the due process rights of others. Particularly in a situation like this where the guy has A. admitted in court to 3 court order violations and B. is literally on video committing what is very likely its own court order violation.

      RE: the video, this was not Arpaio simply saying nasty things about the judge and court order. This was Arpaio saying nasty things about the Judge and Court order in front of a room full of Deputies in the capacity of their employer. This is not a video of him having coffee with his wife saying, that court order is bullshit. He is effectively telling his deputies that the court order has no factual basis which by no stretch of the imagination could be construed as “I dont give a shit if you violate the order”.

      As for your question re: trial, I have no idea. The only contempt proceedings I have seen were State, over journo privelege, and there was no trial. A judge holds you in contempt, you goto jail.

      1. Somehow I find it exceedingly difficult to get upset about the due process rights of those who have made a career out of abusing the due process rights of others.

        Popular people don’t need any more protection than popular speech. Your commitment to rights begins and ends with the extent you’re willing to extend them to people you don’t like.

        1. Right – I mean, look at people accused of terrorism, for example. What if they boasted of their crimes on video – does that mean they forfeit their right to a jury trial?

  9. That POS deserves jail like few do.

  10. This is a day that all good people in AZ have been praying for, to be sure. Would be poetic justice to see one of the worst (if not the worst) public officials in AZ get hung on his own petard.

  11. Seeing that potato-nosed scumbag who abuses other human beings for his own political gain locked up, even for a short period of time, would please me to no end.

  12. Yeah, no jail time. At most a fine. Remember when his deputy stole documents out of a lawyer’s bag during a court session?

    Contempt citation of detention officer

    In October 2009, a courtroom video was posted on YouTube, showing an MCSO Detention Officer removing documents from a defense attorney’s files. Deputy Adam Stoddard was subsequently found in contempt-of-court for violating attorney?client privilege, and ordered to hold a press conference, to publicly apologize for his actions. On the deadline set by the court, Deputy Stoddard, under orders from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, declined to apologize and was jailed. Arpaio argued that only he could order his deputies actions and the court had no authority to enforce any action against a deputy, a position that the Appeals Court rejected in Stoddard’s appeal.

    1. (cont)

      The Appeals Court did order that Judge Donahoe’s order to make an apology be stricken and replaced with a fine. The next day, 20 MCSO detention officers failed to report for work at the downtown Phoenix Superior Court, and a bomb threat was called in, causing the building to be evacuated. The same afternoon, more than 150 deputies and detention officers gathered outside the courthouse and reiterated their support for the jailed detention officer. The MCSO appealed the contempt order, and pending the outcome of the appeal, the deputy was released from jail. Ultimately, the contempt-of-court ruling was upheld, however the court of appeals threw out the penalty (that the officer apologize), and sent the case back to superior court for the imposition of a fine.


  13. Abusing prisoners = making them live like kids in a 50’s summer camp?

  14. While I hate to defend Arpaio since he’s a first-rate asshole, the linked article only said he criticized the judge’s order. Since when are litigants barred from criticizing the results of a court case?

  15. FTA:

    “Criminal contempt could mean that Arpaio will have actual skin in the game”

    Wow! I thought Reason was a leftie pub. Here they are going after Eric Holder.

  16. Thank god for Joe. Ship the illegals the fuck out.

  17. this is just further evidence of the illegal alien protection program..anybody stopping illegals is not tolerated..

  18. Joe is a committed Prohibitionist.

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