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Arizona sheriff Arpaio asks appeals court to void contempt finding

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Joe Arpaio, the Arizona lawman who drew national prominence for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration but lost his bid for a seventh term in office, has asked a federal appeals court to throw out a civil contempt finding.

In a Tuesday filing with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, and two of his top officers said U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in Phoenix overstepped his authority in holding them in contempt for violating court orders stemming from a 2007 racial profiling case.

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Arpaio also said the judge went too far by ordering “extraordinarily intrusive” reforms to his office’s internal affairs operations and the reopening of closed cases.

Snow should also be disqualified for making repeated improper communications and creating an appearance of bias, including that he “hated” Arpaio, the sheriff said.

The case centers on allegations that Arpaio’s office failed to comply with court orders meant to curb alleged racial profiling of Latino drivers stemming from the sheriff’s immigration patrols.

Plaintiffs have until Jan. 23 to respond to Arpaio’s filing. The U.S. Department of Justice has joined the appeals process on the plaintiffs’ side.

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In October, a different federal judge ordered Arpaio to stand trial for criminal contempt. A trial in that case is scheduled for April 4.

Arpaio, 84, a Republican who has proclaimed himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” will end his 24-year tenure on Sunday, after losing his reelection bid to former Phoenix police officer Paul Penzone, a Democrat, in November.

The civil appeal is Ortega et al v Arpaio et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-16663. The criminal contempt case is U.S. v. Arpaio et al, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, No. 16-cr-01012.

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(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)


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New ‘Lord of the Rings’ show to start filming in New Zealand`

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US-based streaming giant Amazon announced Wednesday its big-budget "Lord of the Rings" series will within months start filming in New Zealand, home to Peter Jackson's movies of the fantasy epic.

Amazon is reportedly spending US$1 billion-plus on the series as it seeks to emulate the runaway success enjoyed by "Games of Thrones".

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said the South Pacific nation offered the "primordial beauty" of Middle Earth, the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien's tales of elves, dwarf and hobbits.

"We needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople," they said in a statement.

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Mitch McConnell crony running for Kentucky AG is ineligible for office: lawsuit

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On Tuesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that a new lawsuit seeks to remove Daniel Cameron from the ballot as the Kentucky GOP's nominee for state attorney general.

According to the lawsuit, filed by retired union worker and "concerned citizen" Joseph Leon Jackson Sr. in Jefferson Circuit Court, Cameron does not meet the office requirement of having practiced law for eight years — because although he was admitted by the Kentucky Bar Association in 2011, he spent two of the following years clerking for U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.

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Trump lashes out at Lindsey Graham after he accuses the president of showing ‘weakness’

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President Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham, once bitter enemies, have become close allies since the 2016 election as the South Carolina Republican realized it was in his personal interest to cozy up to the White House. But on Tuesday, fractures emerged between the two in public over a key issue for Graham: Iran.

Graham is on the severely hawkish wing of the Republican Party, and he clearly wants a war with Iran. He began a series of tweets Tuesday by praising Vice President Mike Pence’s briefing that day about the recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, saying he believes that “such a sophisticated attack could not have occurred without Iran’s blessing and direct involvement.” He called it an “an act of war” and lauded the Trump administration’s “efforts to create a regional coalition, thoroughly brief the Congress on the actions taken, and come up with a plan of action to restore deterrence against an evil regime in Iran.”

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