On Monday, Joe Arpaio, a former sheriff, has been convicted on criminal charges associated with disobeying a court order. Arpaio was told by the court to cease all traffic patrols that specifically targeted immigrants. When he failed to comply in a timely manner, he was deemed guilty of a misdemeanor crime.
As reported by NBC News, US District Judge Susan Bolton heard the case and determined Arpaio was guilty of contempt of court when the patrols that targeted immigrants continued after he was ordered to cease such activities. The crime is considered a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors alleged that Arpaio chose to ignore the court order to promote his stance on immigration during his 2012 campaign. The former Phoenix metro sheriff acknowledged the patrols continued after the court’s order but insisted he didn’t intend to ignore the court’s wishes at the time.
As reported by the New York Times, Arpaio served as the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for 24 years, and his fight against illegal immigrants drew national attention. During his time in office, deputies often detained individuals based on the belief that they could be in the country illegally, leading a lawsuit to be filed.
The suit alleged that Arpaio’s approach used racial profiling. In December 2011, a federal judge heard the case and ordered the sheriff to cease detaining people based on race. An appeals court upheld the decision in 2013. Arpaio repeatedly asserted that the detainments would continue even after the court orders were issued.
Federal prosecutors filed criminal contempt of court charges based on Arpaio’s actions. Arpaio insisted he did not willfully violate the court order, but the other members of the sheriff department staff had chosen to do so.
Bolton stated in her decision, “Not only did Defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”
While Arpaio’s strong stance on immigration issues originally made him popular with voters in the area, deepening legal troubles led citizens to become frustrated. Arpaio was eventually removed from the position.
Arpaio, 85, could face up to six months in jail. However, attorneys that are familiar with the case believe it is unlikely Arpaio will be incarcerated for the crime.