A federal judge recommended on Friday that prosecutors bring criminal contempt charges against Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio, finding that the controversial sheriff had violated court orders stemming from a 2007 racial profiling case.
U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow also urged criminal contempt charges against Arpaio’s second-in-command, Gerard Sheridan, along with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Captain Steve Bailey and an Arpaio attorney, Michele Iafrate.
In a written order, Snow asked federal prosecutors to file contempt charges for three alleged violations by Arpaio, who styles himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” and has built a national reputation for strong rhetoric and aggressive actions to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
Federal prosecutors must still decide whether to bring criminal charges in a case that grew from a lawsuit challenging conduct by the sheriff’s department as unconstitutional.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix said the judge’s referral was under review. If prosecutors decline to file charges, another judge could appoint a special prosecutor to take up the case.
Criminal contempt citations, if proven in court, carry penalties of jail time and fines.
Arpaio’s criminal defense lawyer, Mel McDonald, said he was certain his client will be vindicated.
“Judge Snow voiced his opinion, and we disagree with his conclusion,” McDonald told Reuters. “There was no criminal intent by the sheriff.” McDonald added that he would meet with prosecutors to make his argument against criminal charges.
But an attorney for the plaintiffs in the racial profiling case called the judge’s decision “the right next step for justice to be done.”
“When a federal court finds that a law enforcement official has lied under oath and willfully flouted court orders, that official must be held to account,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project.
In his 32-page order, Snow said Arpaio willfully violated a 2011 court injunction barring the sheriff’s office from stopping and detaining motorists solely based on suspicion they were in the country illegally. That practice continued for 18 months after the judge ordered it halted, Snow said.
He also cited Arpaio for failing to disclose documents and preserve records in the case, as ordered.
The criminal referral marked the latest turn in a case since Snow ruled in May 2013 that sheriff’s deputies racially profiled Latino drivers during traffic stops and wrongfully detained them. He ordered sweeping changes to the sheriff’s office and appointed a monitor to oversee its operations.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Steve Gorman, Sandra Maler & Shri Navaratnam)
Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady
MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.
"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."
Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.
Watch the video below from MSNBC.
‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case
Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."
She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.
"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."
WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial
President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."
"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."