Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been convicted of ignoring a federal judge’s orders to halt racial profiling that targets Latinos for proof of citizenship or residency, according to AZ Central. The power to stop people and ask them for their papers came in 2010 when Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, also known as the Show Me Your Papers Law. The current trial, which will now be moving to a sentencing hearing in October, stems from Arpaio’s willful defiance of Federal Judge Murray Snow’s order to stop profiling Latinos based on immigration.
“In short, the Court finds that the Defendants have engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith with respect to the Plaintiff class and the protection of its rights,” Judge Snow wrote in a decision on May 13, 2016. “They have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of this Court,as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct as they pertain to their obligations to be fair, “equitable[,] and impartial” with respect to the interests of the Plaintiff class.”
Arpaio, who was found guilty of civil contempt for the same issue, has now been convicted of criminal contempt after a lengthy court battle with different civil rights groups and Maricopa County.
“The evidence at trial proves beyond a reasonable doubt and the Court finds that Judge Snow issued a clear and definite order enjoining Defendant from detaining persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed,” reads the ruling signed by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.
AZ Central reports that the decision is a total rejection of Arpaio’s defense: that the order was confusing and unclear and that there was no willful defiance.
“Today, Judge Susan Bolton violated the United States Constitution by issuing her verdict without even reading it to the Defendant in public court,” Jack Wilenchik, Arpaio’s attorney, said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “Her verdict is contrary to what every single witness testified in the case. Arpaio believes that a jury would have found in his favor, and that it will. Joe Arpaio is in this for the long haul, and he will continue his fight to vindicate himself, to prove his innocence, and to protect the public.”
AZ Central reports that Arpaio’s deputies detained up to 171 people after Federal Judge Snow’s injunction filed in December 2011. These detentions were in direct violation with the order of a federal judge to stop the practice of racially profiling Latinos.
“This verdict is a vindication for the many victims of Joe Arpaio’s immigration policies, which were unconstitutional to begin with, and were doubly illegal when Arpaio flouted the court’s orders,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang said in a statement. “Joe Arpaio learned his lesson the hard way — no one, not even America’s so-called toughest sheriff, is above the law.”