REQUESTS RECUSAL OF JUDGE, ALLEGING IMPROPER COMMUNICATIONS WITH MONITOR AND JUDICIAL OVERREACH

by Sharon Rondeau

(Dec. 29, 2016) — A press release issued on Wednesday by Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio indicates that Arpaio’s appeal of a contempt-of-court ruling issued in May asks the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the judge’s contempt ruling and an earlier ruling which placed a monitor over Arpaio’s office.

Melendres Statement Re Opening Brief FINAL

Arpaio is represented by a Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, based in Washington, DC and Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C. of Phoenix.

Stemming from hearings occurring in April of last year, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found Arpaio and three others to be in civil contempt of his orders to discontinue neighborhood patrols dispatched with the purpose of identifying illegal aliens within the county.

In January 2015, Arpaio admitted that he had not followed Snow’s December 2013 order to cease the immigration patrols and offered to make financial restitution out of his personal funds, which Snow rejected, opting to go to trial.

In Arpaio’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit announced on Wednesday, his legal team requested that Snow be removed from the case, as it did while contempt hearings were ongoing last year after derogatory comments involving Arpaio allegedly made by Snow became public.  In their brief, Arpaio’s attorneys claim that Snow was involved in “ex parte communications” with the monitor Snow personally appointed to oversee the MCSO and that both federal law and the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights were violated.

The comments allegedly made by Snow are discussed on page 60 of the brief.

Further, Arpaio’s team states that Snow’s appointment of the monitor amounted to “a federal court improperly micromanaging the internal operations of a state agency.”

The case from which the civil contempt ruling arose, Melendres  et al v. Arpaio, et al, was filed in December 2007 by a group of plaintiffs represented by the ACLU.

Along with his ruling of civil contempt, Snow recommended that Arpaio be criminally prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, which declared its intent to do so just before early voting began in Arizona in late October.

Arpaio, 84, served six consecutive terms as Maricopa County sheriff but was defeated in his November 8 bid for re-election to a seventh term.  His successor, Paul Penzone, will be sworn in on January 1, 2017.

A trial on the DOJ’s intent to prosecute Arpaio is scheduled for April 4, rescheduled from December 6.

In a 76-page filing dated December 27, 2016, Arpaio’s attorneys claim that Snow’s orders affecting how the MCSO was to be monitored constituted “sweeping powers” (p. 20).

Melendres Filing

On pages 22-23, appellant Arpaio quoted Snow as having “admitted that ‘the Monitor is in constant communication with the Court regarding the performance of his services,'” to which Arpaio’s attorneys object.

On December 15, Arpaio and the lead investigator of his Cold Case Posse, Michael Zullo, presented further evidence that the long-form birth certificate image posted at whitehouse.gov purported to represent a certified copy of Obama’s original birth record is a “computer-generated forgery.” The press conference followed two others held on March 1, 2012 and July 17, 2012, respectively, which were intended to alert the media and the public of their growing suspicions of forgery of not only the birth certificate image, but also Obama’s Selective Service registration form.

The media has often mischaracterized the nature of the investigation by referring to Arpaio as a “birther” when the focus of the probe was never Obama’s birthplace.  Neither the media nor Congress has conducted an independent investigation on the posse’s conclusions to prove or disprove them.

Arpaio has stated that he believes that the Justice Department’s decision to go forward with the criminal contempt charge is a result of his pursuit of the “birth certificate” matter.

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