The founders of the independent publication Phoenix New Times won a $3.75 million settlement from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona on Friday, ending years of litigation after were arrested by Sheriff Joe Arpaio under false pretenses.
New Times reported on Friday that the dispute between Arpaio, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin dates back to 2004, when the newspaper published Arpaio’s home address, which was publicly available, as part of an investigation into his acquisition of six commercial real estate properties in transactions that were not made public.
“Unlike most of Arpaio’s victims, we had the financial wherewithal to defend ourselves in court, and we were able to speak through the newspaper,” Lacey and Larkin said in a statement. “But the vulnerable and impoverished victims of Arpaio’s ongoing abusive practices have neither the money nor the voice to fight back.”
Though Arpaio asked that the paper be charged, arguing that the information presented a “timely threat,” two separate County Attorney’s offices declined, since at least 10 months had elapsed between the article’s publication and his request. But a special prosecutor appointed by Thomas issued subpoenas in 2007 asking for New Times’ sources and readers for all of its stories related to Arpaio.
In response, Lacey and Larkin wrote an Oct. 18, 2007 story detailing authorities’ actions. The night the story was published, they were arrested on charges of violating the secrecy of a grand jury. The subpoenas were later declared invalid because they were obtained without the approval of any grand jury, nor Superior Court Judge Baca, who was in charge of convening them.
The Arizona Republic reported that Maricopa County has been forced to pay nearly $17 million in settlements related to cases of political attacks by Arpaio and Thomas.
[Image via KXNV-TV]