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by Sharon Rondeau

U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona Judge G. Murray Snow was appointed to the federal bench by Pres. George W. Bush in 2008.

(Jun. 20, 2015) — On Wednesday, The Post & Email reported, through documents filed in the federal PACER system, that U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow had changed the manner in which invoices from a monitor appointed last year would be approved.

In January 2014, Snow appointed former Rochester, NY police chief; Statesville, NC police chief and seasoned police-department monitor Robert Warshaw to work with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to ensure compliance with Snow’s orders following a ruling in December 2013 that Arpaio’s deputies had racially profiled Latinos during traffic stops and immigration patrols.

The plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in December 2007, Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al, are defended by ACLU lead attorney Cecillia Wang, who had expressed a preference for Warshaw’s appointment.  Warshaw’s photo and contact information relating to his monitoring of the MCSO are placed prominently on an Arizona ACLU web page.

In his proposal responding to Snow’s Judgment Order of December 9, 2013 against the MCSO, Warshaw provided the biographies of his team members, all of whom possess extensive law enforcement and managerial experience.  Warshaw wrote that he envisioned “at least one 5-day site visit to MCSO offices and districts” each quarter-year (p. 19).  He anticipated that his evaluations of MCSO for compliance with the order would be completed in “phases.”

The MCSO appealed Snow’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which largely upheld the U.S. District Court but stated that the role of the monitor should be contained to correction of constitutional violations.

Following the formation of a May 2014 contractual agreement with Warshaw & Associates, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson had been reviewing the monitor’s invoices in the judge’s chambers once a month with her attorney, Katherine E. Baker, before approving them for payment.

On May 6, Snow “temporarily” suspended the in-camera monthly review of Warshaw’s invoices without explanation. Citing statements made by a former attorney for the sheriff’s office prior to the consummation of the monitoring agreement, Snow indicated that he would assume oversight of the review of Warshaw’s invoices for “reasonableness.”

Snow reviewed the April 2015 invoice and instructed Wilson to have the county pay it.  However, in a June 8 brief, Baker informed Snow that her client objected to having been told to authorize payment for the invoice without having seen “necessary backup and billing detail.”

Baker’s statement included not only her client’s objections to the new arrangement, but also that Warshaw’s April invoice had contained “huge sums.”

On June 15, Snow issued an order stating that “The Court has received and reviewed the Monitor’s invoice dated June 2, 2015 for services rendered by the Monitor in May 2015.  The Court finds the invoice and charges to be reasonable and directs Maricopa County to authorize payment of the Monitor’s invoice.”

Melendres 06-15-15 Monitor Invoice Order

In her latest filing dated June 17, 2015, Baker stated that Wilson had ordered the May invoice to be paid.

Melendres Baker May Invoice

Baker also asked the Court (Snow) to restore the previous arrangement in which she and her client reviewed Warshaw’s invoices in the judge’s chambers, then authorized them for payment by the county.  Baker indicated that if that arrangement were to resume, Wilson “has not, and will not, reveal the contents of the billing detail to MCSO, the Sheriff, or to any other persons or entities.”

“The Court has suspended the County’s receipt of detailed invoices [required by the County’s contract with the Monitor],” Baker stated at the bottom of page 1 of her brief, adding that the amount allocated for monitoring services could be depleted “within the next two to three months.”

On Friday, The Post & Email received confirmation from MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen that the contractual agreement between Warshaw & Associates and Maricopa County is not maintained by the MCSO but likely by county offices.

A source familiar with police monitoring told The Post & Email that while invoices from monitors may not necessarily be posted online, they are generally considered public information.

In early May, Arpaio’s attorneys asked Snow to recuse himself for what they allege is a conflict of interest following his intense questioning of Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, about an alleged investigation into his wife.  Snow has acknowledged but not issued a ruling on the motion.

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