Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a border enforcement crusader now targeted by a federal prosecutors, could learn as early as today if he will be found guilty of criminal contempt.
He was indicted, and was tried last week, on charges of criminal contempt for continuing patrols to find those crossing the U.S./Mexico border illegally, after liberal Federal judge G. Murray Snow ordered him in 2011 to stop enforcing the law.
The Federal government alleges Arpaio continued border patrols that discriminated against Hispanics. Arpaio argues the court order was vaguely worded, and he changed the manner in which he conducted the patrols to made a good faith effort to comply.
Arpaio’s fate will be decided by Federal Judge Susan Bolton, a Bill Clinton appointee. It was Bolton who in 2010 blocked Arizona’s law allowing police to check the immigration status of detained suspects.
Arpaio, who won national praise for his tough approach to crime and efforts to secure his county’s border with Mexico, lost his re-election after he was targeted by liberals nationwide and charged with crimes.
Arpaio is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s “Public Integrity Section” (PIS,) which was behind the prosecutions of Republican former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and Democrat former senator and vice-presidential nominee John Edwards. McDonnell and Stevens were both convicted.
McDonnell’s conviction was unanimously throw out by the Supreme Court, which ruled the PIS falsely applied the law. Stevens’ conviction was also thrown out after the PIS admitted to widespread misconduct in the case, but by then Stevens has lost his Senate seat, his reputation was ruined and he had perished in a plane crash.
Edwards was found not guilty by a jury that found the PIS, once again, has misapplied the law.
In the weeks before the 2010 election, when it became apparent Democrats may lose, then-IRS official Lois Lerner spoke with PIS Chief Jack Smith, PIS Deputy Chief Raymond Hulser and PIS “Election Crimes” Division head Richard Pilger to discuss possibly targeting and arresting citizens operating anti-Obama “Tea Party” groups. During that meeting, PIS officials reviewed confidential taxpayer information on Obama critics, which is generally illegal.