Residents of Arizona's Maricopa County may once again foot the bill for a court case against Joe Arpaio, the county's notorious sheriff whose racial profiling against Latino residents a judge has ruled illegal.
On Tuesday, the Stamford Advocate reported that lawyers in the case against Arpaio are seeking $5.9 million in legal fees and expenses for pursuing contempt of court charges against the sheriff. The Stamford Advocate noted that if granted, the request would mark the second time a court gave the attorneys such a monetary award, the lawyers having received almost $4.5 million last year for bringing the racial profiling case against Arpaio to trial.
Although Sheriff Arpaio has long been a popular public figure among county voters, the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts expressed the frustration of many Maricopa County residents in an op-ed on Tuesday that pointed out the county's taxpayers will once again pay the legal fees in a case against their controversial sheriff. Roberts wrote that in addition to the $4.5 million taxpayers will pay for this round of fees, they have shelled out a total of $10.4 million in lawyer bills for this case alone.
"In all, we’ve already paid $51 million as a result of Snow’s ruling that Arpaio’s office systematically violated the civil rights of Latinos," Roberts wrote.
The proposed costs come after the judge presiding over the most recent racial profiling case against Arpaio handed the first of what may be several legal punishments against the Maricopa County sheriff. According to the Associated Press, on July 20, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow demanded an overhaul of the sheriff department's internal affairs investigations against Arpaio. AP noted that Judge Snow previously found Arpaio in civil contempt of court after the sheriff disobeyed the court's order that he stop his immigration patrols.
In addition to finding Arpaio in contempt, AP wrote, Judge Snow previously ruled that the sheriff department’s internal affairs investigations into officer misconduct had been manipulated to protect cops from punishment. The judge is now considering criminal charges against Arpaio and his top aide, Jerry Sherridan, that could lead to the two of them facing jail time. The lawyers in the case against Arpaio also want the sheriff to compensate Latinos who his department illegally detained:
The lawyers who won the profiling case say Arpaio should be required to pull $300,000 out of his own pocket to help compensate Latinos who were illegally detained. The sheriff has not had to foot the legal bills directly tied to his official duties in any of the lawsuits filed against him during his 23-year tenure.
But Maricopa County residents haven't just had to pony up money in legal cases against the lawman who styles himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff." As Raw Story previously reported on July 2, Arpaio spent tax dollars to ensure that every one of the county's 8,000 inmates were adorned in American flag-themed clothing prior to Independence Day.
Arpaio's antics may seem merely absurd, but Raw Story also noted that his harsh policing practices in an effort to have resulted in tragic consequences. In May 2009, Marcia Powell, a 48-year-old sex worker, died of heat exposure after the sheriff's department placed her in a cage for four hours in the sun. Arpaio has also constructed an outdoor tent city that is designed so inmates will suffer extreme heat.
At the Republican National Convention last week, Yahoo News reported, Sheriff Arpaio praised Donald Trump, claiming that, "We need a leader who will protect our borders and enforce our laws."