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The Arpaio Pardon — Don’t Obsess about the Russian Investigation

It seems there are two likely responses to the Arpaio pardon: to use it as a teaching opportunity about race, or to use it to panic about the Russian investigation.

I’m seeing far too many people choosing the latter option, focusing on what Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio might do for the Russian investigation. That, in spite of the fact that Trump has already spoken openly of pardoning Mike Flynn, just like he did of Arpaio, to say nothing of his spawn or the father of his grandchildren.

The targets of the Russian investigation already know Trump can and is considering pardoning them.

But a pardon of them — at least some of them — is a very different thing than an Arpaio pardon. That’s because, for some of the crimes in question, in case of a pardon, Robert Mueller could just share the evidence with a state (usually NY) or NYC prosecutor for prosecution. It’s possible that accepting a pardon for Trump or Kushner business related crimes could expose those businesses to lawsuit, and both family’s businesses are pretty heavily in debt now.

Most importantly, a Paul Manafort or Mike Flynn pardon would deprive them of their ability to invoke the Fifth Amendment, meaning they could more easily be forced to testify against Trump, including to Congress.

Presidents implicated in crimes have used a variety of means to silence witnesses who could implicate them, but Poppy Bush’s Cap Weinberger pardon — the most recent example of a President pardoning a witness who could incriminate him — was not the primary thing that protected Poppy and Reagan, Congress’ immunization of witnesses was. Thus far, most Republicans in Congress seem determined to avoid such assistance, and Trump’s attacks on Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis for not sufficiently protecting him probably have only exacerbated the problem.

I wrote a piece explaining why (in my opinion) George W Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence, but never pardoned him: it kept Libby silent without adding any personal risk. If Trump were competent, he’d be making similar calculations about how to keep witnesses out of prison without making it easier to incriminate him. But he’s usually not competent, and so may fuck this up royally.

In any case, given that some Republicans (including both Arizona’s Senators) have made lukewarm objections to the Arpaio pardon, I’d imagine any pardons of Russian witnesses would meet more opposition, particularly if those pardons came before the 2018 elections. Add in the fact that sleazeball Manafort has no purported service to point to to justify a pardon, as Trump cited with Arpaio (and would to justify a Flynn pardon). The backlash against Trump pardoning witnesses against him will likely be far worse than the already existing backlash here.

Pardoning Arpaio was easy. Pardoning Manafort and Flynn and Don Jr and Kushner and everyone else who can implicate the President will not be easy, neither legally nor politically. So don’t confuse the two.

Meanwhile, Trump has just pardoned a man whose quarter century of abuse targeting people of color has made him the poster child of abuse, not just from a moral perspective, but (given the huge fines Maricopa has had to pay) from a governance perspective.

Like it or not, a lot of white people have a hard time seeing unjustified killings of people of color as the gross civil rights abuse it is, because when cops cite fear or danger in individual cases, fearful white people — who themselves might shoot a black kid in haste in the name of self-defense — side when them. Those white people might easily treat Black Lives Matter as an annoyance blocking their commute on the freeway.

The same white people might find Joe Arpaio’s tortuous camps for people of color objectionable, because those camps make the systemic aspect far more apparent. They’re far more likely to do so, though, if this pardon is primarily seen as Trump’s endorsement of systematic white supremacy rather than a test run to protect himself.

Moreover, white supremacy is something that will remain and must be fought even if Robert Mueller indicts Trump tomorrow. It was a key, if not the key, factor in Trump’s win. We won’t beat the next demagogue following in Trump’s model if we don’t make progress against white supremacy.

You can’t do anything, personally, to help the Robert Mueller investigation. You can do something to fight white supremacy. And if that doesn’t happen, then we’ll face another Trump down the road, just as surely as Sarah Palin paved the way for Trump.

The Arpaio pardon is an abuse, horrifying, yet more evidence of how outrageous Trump is.

But it’s also a teaching opportunity about white supremacy. Better to use it as such rather than cause for panic about the Russia investigation.

Related posts

emptywheel, You’re not the audience for the Arpaio pardon, cops are

bmaz, Some thoughts on the Arpaio pardon

 

 

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

The Arpaio Pardon: You’re Not the Audience

In the wake of yet another deranged speech from the president — and his seeming promise to pardon Joe Arpaio — the pundit class has taken to explaining how outrageous an Arpaio pardon would be. Such analysis often focuses on what it would symbolize: which is usually described as some proof that Trump doesn’t respect judges, the law, or by others as yet more evidence Trump coddles racists.

I don’t disagree with any of that analysis. But I think it misunderstands the audience for the pardon.

As things move forward, Trump will increasingly retain support among his base — who are, to a significant degree, the racists who marched in Charlottesville and the racists who elected him by 10 points in South Carolina over a Christian Conservative candidate. Trump will manage to hold onto power to the extent that his base can sufficiently scare people — more moderate Republican voters, Republican politicians, counter-protestors — such that they won’t act against Trump. But the formula by which that base succeeds will depend on Trump’s other, more respectable, base: cops.

As I pointed out repeatedly during the election, while some dissidents objected, the National Fraternal Order of Police and many other police groups stood by Trump, even after the Access Hollywood video made it clear the candidate endorsed sexual assault. Trump continues to feed this base, with repeated tributes to cops’ roles in keeping “us” “safe.”

Meanwhile, Brennan Center’s Mike German has started to track a disturbing trend. I believe he, like me, thinks the FBI is generally adequate at infiltrating white supremacist groups to disrupt the most outrageous attacks. But what law enforcement is not doing is policing right wing violence at protests the same way it polices left protests.

There have been a number of protests over the last six months where the police — and this is in Portland, Oregon, two in Berkeley, California, one in Sacramento, California, one in Huntington Beach, California — where these protests were well-advertised within the far right movement as, “Come and beat somebody up.” And yet the police response wasn’t adequate enough to prevent these running street battles. In fact, it appeared the police were standing back and allowing these street battles to go on, which only meant the next rally people were going to be better prepared to commit more violence. And it conditioned these groups that have been hyper-violent in the past, these far right groups, to come expecting the police would let you commit acts of violence.

In Portland, Oregon, the police actually let the people from the militia groups participate in arresting their political opponents. That was also true in Huntington Beach, where it’s almost like the police are sanctioning them to apprehend people and bring them to the police, which is extraordinarily dangerous to give these groups the idea that they have the authority to put hands on people, much less put hands on their political opponents.

So I wasn’t surprised to see the violence getting out of hand, and I think we as a nation have to have a serious conversation with our local law enforcement and with the federal government. I’m sure the FBI was aware of any number of people coming to this protest who were subjects of domestic terrorism investigations. Why was there not a more robust response?

Particularly since we see over-policing of non-violent protests by groups like Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock anti-pipeline protests, not to mention just regular political conventions. The Republican National Convention, you have troops there just to manage the crowds. So I don’t understand why in these latest series of events, where groups that have a history of violence and are advocating that they’re going to bring people to be violent, somehow the police seem to be caught off guard.

As he explains what I laid out above. Trump can retain power — which will increasingly require grabbing authoritarian powers — by enabling his street thugs to beat up the government’s opponents.

If you look at the ways authoritarian governments obtain police powers, this is exactly how they do it. They sort of turn a blind eye to street thuggery and allow people to commit political violence against opponents of the government. That street violence becomes unbearable for the public, who demand that the government do something about it so the government can justify stopping protests altogether. And, of course, what the government is really interested in is stopping protests against government policies. We’re seeing that kind of thing, where there are a number of bills in state legislatures that would remove civil liability from people who run over protesters in the street. That’s taken on a very disturbing aspect with the latest murder in Charlottesville.

So while feeding his explicitly racist base with hateful rhetoric is important, it’s even more important to ensure that the cops remain with him, even as he fosters violence.

There is no better way to do that than to convey to police that they can target brown people, that they can ignore all federal checks on their power, with impunity (this is probably one key reason why Trump has given up his efforts to oust Sessions, because on policing they remain in perfect accord).

There is no better way to keep the support of cops who support Trump because he encourages their abuses then by pardoning Arpaio for the most spectacular case of such abuses.

You’re not the audience for this pardon. The cops are.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Federal Judge Blasts Joe Arpaio’s Racial Profiling and Detention Policy

In a scathing decision just entered by Judge Murray Snow in the District Court for the District of Arizona, the court has hammered the racial profiling and detention policies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The case is Melendres v. Arpaio, and the Arizona Republic described the decision thusly:

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has engaged in racial profiling and must not use Hispanic ancestry as a factor when making law-enforcement decisions, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued the ruling Friday, more than eight months after a seven-day trial on the subject concluded. The trial examined longstanding allegations that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s emphasis on immigration enforcement led deputies to target Latino drivers based on their race, and that by doing so, they violated the constitutional rights of Maricopa County residents and the sheriff’s own policies requiring constitutional policing.
….
The class of Hispanic citizens that brought the racial-profiling lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office never sought monetary damages. Instead, the group asked for the court to issue injunctions barring Arpaio’s office from discriminatory policing.

Snow obliged — and indicated more remedies could be ordered in the future.

Here is a link to the full decision.

The decision is long at 142 pages, but it is beautiful and contains specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that will make it hard to reverse on appeal to the 9th Circuit. There is no question but that Arpaio will appeal, but he will not be doing so from a good position in light of this decision.

Here are some quick highlights:

As is set forth below, in light of ICE’s cancellation of the MCSO’s 287(g) authority, the MCSO has no authority to detain people based only on reasonable suspicion, or probable cause, without more, that such persons are in this country without authorization.

Thus, the MCSO’s LEAR policy that requires a deputy (1) to detain persons she or he believes only to be in the country without authorization, (2) to contact MCSO supervisors, and then (3) to await contact with ICE pending a determination how to proceed, results in an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

And

Thus, to the extent it uses race as a factor in arriving at reasonable suspicion or forming probable cause to stop or investigate persons of Latino ancestry for being in the country without authorization, it violates the Fourth Amendment. In addition, it violates the Plaintiff class’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And

Finally, the knowledge that a person is in the country without authorization does not, without more, provide sufficient reasonable suspicion that a person has violated Arizona criminal laws relating to immigration, such as the Arizona Human Smuggling Act, to justify a Terry stop for purposes of investigative detention. To the extent the MCSO is authorized to investigate violations of the Arizona Employer Sanctions law, that law does not provide criminal sanctions against either employers or employees. A statute that provides only civil sanctions is not a sufficient basis on which the MCSO can arrest or conduct Terry stops of either employers or employees.

There is a LOT of prime substance to this decision, and it all needed to be said. The fact that it comes with specific and articulated findings of fact and conclusions of law, after a trial, makes all the difference in the world as to strength. It is a treat for the Memorial Day weekend.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

500,000 Uncounted Ballots in Maricopa County AZ With Elections In the Lurch

A great deal of the country breathed a sigh of relief and assumed finality and normalcy in the election after last night. And, at first, such was the case in Maricopa County, Arizona. But then it was revealed there were uncounted ballots, a LOT of uncounted ballots. Sources close to the Arizona Democratic Party and Adios Arpaio reported the uncounted votes as follows:

· – 200,000 early ballots were mailed in but not yet counted

· – 100,000 early ballots dropped at polls have not been counted

· – 80,000 ballots machines cannot read

· – 100,000 “provisional and conditional provisional.

That is, to say the least, a LOT of uncounted votes. 500,000 is especially disconcerting considering the controversial Sheriff, Joe Arpaio “won” reelection by 489,952 votes to 401,574 for challenger Paul Penzone.

Furthermore, another critical election for US House of Representatives District AZ-9, between up and coming Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker is separated by only 2,715 votes, with Sinema currently in the lead.

There are a lot fewer ballots out of the nearly 500,000 at issue within the limited bounds of AZ-9 for Sinema and Parker, probably most of them in one of the two early ballot categories.

But ALL of the outstanding ballots, including the 180,000 plus provisional and “hard to machine read” ballots are in play as to the Arpaio/Penzone race, and the majority of the provisionals and “hard to machine reads” are feared to be from precincts of predominantly Hispanic and other minority population, including the incredibly large number of voters recently registered by the Adios Arpaio effort.

Either way the results come out, these are votes that should, and must, be accounted for and counted in the most open and transparent manner possible.

Now precisely what precincts the uncounted ballots are respectively out of, and where the trends from those precincts would indicate a proper counting would take the overall vote, is not yet clear. It is something the County Recorder Helen Purcell and/or Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office might well get done – or at least you would think so. But, this is a weird county in a crazy state, so it cannot be taken for granted in any regard. 500,000 uncounted ballots in an election with an extant margin of 88,378 between Arpaio challenger Penzone, is fairly significant.

Reportedly, the counting of “early ballots” will commence forthwith, but the counting of provisionals and disputeds will not commence until next Monday. Pursuant to Arizona law, ARS 16-249, “The secretary of state shall certify the election results to the state party committee chairmen of the parties that have candidates on the presidential preference ballot on or before the second Monday following the election.”

Adios Arpaio registered a lot of new voters, especially in the immigrant areas most affected by the deleterious policies of Arpaio. Other Latino and Democratic groups registered a whole lot more new voters. These newly registered voters deserve to have the state insure their votes are counted. It may not be enough to get rid of Arpaio, but it will affect Kyrsten Sinema and other downticket local elections. And it is the least that can be done for the newly registered participants in democracy.

[UPDATE: The latest count appears to be just over 460,000 total uncounted ballots in Maricopa County]

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Adios Arpaio – The Fiscal and Legal Case For Removal of Sheriff Joe

America, indeed the nation, is in a financial and legal moribund lurch. No longer, if there ever was, is there taxpayer money and ethics left on balance to be wasted on entrenched politicians sucking at our tit. You say your’s is the worst? Well, then you do not live in Maricopa County Arizona, the home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It is time for Sheriff Joe to go. ADIOS ARPAIO! There is a fiscal, legal and moral case to do so.

My friend Tim Murphy, of Mother Jones, laid out the “bizarre” freak show nature of Arpaio’s current reelection campaign in superb detail. But only part of the story was told, understandable as there is SO much to tell in the Arpaio saga. Here is the rest of, or at least some of the rest of, the story.

Joe Arpaio did not magically come to be Sheriff of Maricopa County. It happened because the two previous occupants of the Sheriff’s Office were, shall we say, problematic on their own. There was Dick Godbehere, who was, prior to being Sheriff of the fourth largest county in the United States, literally a lawn mower repairman. No, I kid you not. And he served with the same level of sophistication you would expect of a lawn mower repairman.

Then came Tom Agnos, who was supposed to return “professionalism” to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). But Agnos was a subservient Sun City resident who led the MCSO into not just the biggest cock-up in Maricopa county law enforcement history, but one of national and international proportion. The Buddhist Temple Murder Case where nine buddhist monks and acolytes were lined up and shot in the back of the head, execution style, at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple on the west side of Phoenix.

It was out of the Buddhist Temple Murders Joe Arpaio came to be. A group of prominent Phoenix trial attorneys, both criminal and civil, wanted an alternative to Tom Agnos and the whitewashing coverup he was conducting on one of the greatest coerced false confession cases in world history. The group of trial lawyers coalesced around the upstart primary candidacy of a local travel agent with a colorful background. Yep, one Joseph Arpaio.

Joseph Arpaio promised that initial group of trial lawyers he would clean up the MCSO, release the damning internal report of the gross misconduct that had occurred in the Temple Murder Case under Tom Agnos, which lead to at least four false and heinously coerced confessions, and that he would refuse, under all circumstances, to serve more than one term in office. It was a promise made and, obviously, a promise long ago broken.

To be fair, Arpaio did release the internal report on the Temple Murder Case, which led to five plus million dollar settlement for some of the most wrongfully arrested souls in American history. But with that promise kept within a short time of taking office, Joe Arpaio breached the solid promise he made to the people who gave him the seed funding carrying him into office. And Arpaio has made a mockery of his word, as a man, ever since by repeatedly running for office and sinking Maricopa County into depths of depravity and fiscal distress beyond comprehension, from the vantage of the MCSO.

Arpaio’s false pretenses to get elected have turned into the fodder of liability for the county he was supposedly elected to serve and protect.

How deep has Arpaio’s liability effected the taxpayers, and residents, of Maricopa County? To the tune of at least $50 Million dollars. AT LEAST. Because that figure not only does not count the costs of defense, and they are usually astronomical in the larger cases against Arpaio, because he never admits responsibility, but also does not consider Maricopa County is self insured and may not, necessarily, publicly disclose all smaller payouts. There may, or may not, be a lot more payout, or a lot more, we just don’t know.

So, what is the ledger to date? Here it is is in all its sick glory. $50 Million dollars of unnecessary payout, all because of a man, who promised, and who was initially sponsored, and brought to election, by a group who wanted change and the diametric opposite of what came to be.

Here is the worse part: the $50 Million figure is, by all appearances, devoid of the real and hard actual costs of defending all the action on which payout was made in that spreadsheet. Hard costs are known in the legal world as attorney fees, court costs, expert witness fees, service costs, evidentiary laboratory fees – in short, fees that can add up to millions in, and among, themselves, irrespective of the underlying root liability payouts. In short, the $50 Million you see in the ledger is but a fraction of the real cost of Joe Arpaio’s criminally and civilly negligent insolence as Sheriff of Maricopa County. Nor does the figure, of course, include the losses that already should have come from the Deborah Braillard case, much less the Matty Atensio case.

Who is Matthew Atensio represented by? That would be by one prime example of tort liability counterbalance to egregious wrongdoing, Michael Manning. Who is Michael Manning? Well, Manning is the grinning man in the photograph above, with the somewhat soullessly dumbfounded Joe Arpaio at a charity fundraiser. Manning has a right to grin at the sight of the “Toughest Sheriff In America”, because Michael Manning, alone, has taken the greatest portion of the nearly $50 Million (and very much increasingly counting) toll on the taxpayers of Maricopa County, the narcissistic propaganda obsessed figurine Joe Arpaio has cost. And Manning and fellow Phoenix attorney Joel B. Robbins, have laid the wood to Sheriff Joe, and the worst is yet to com in the form of the Atensio litigation and other compelling cases (not to mention Braillard which should have settled and, now, instead awaits a larger jury verdict on already determined damages).

You think the moral and tort liability train fueled and paid by the taxpayers and citizens of Maricopa County has sailed into the sunset? Oh no. There are mountains of liability and taxpayer’s coffer’s payouts on the horizon. The only question is if the residents and voters of Maricopa County will wake up and end the madness now, or whether they will give yet another term of office to the Most Liable and Wasteful Sheriff In American History”.

The dedicated folks at “Adios Arpaio” have done yeoman’s work in identifying, registering, and encouraging tens of thousands, if not more of, not just latino, but voters of all colors and stripes, to vote in this election. A heroic effort.

But where does that leave the citizens of Maricopa County? Arguably still short against the self promoting dynamo that is Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It is a living monument to the benign destruction caused by hyped belligerence, ignorance and apathy in a designated and restricted electorate. Joseph Arpaio came into office as the the promised one term agent of well meaning, and will leave, to the shame of Maricopa County as perhaps the most disgraceful official ever elected in the county. The only question is, whether that is now or four years from now.

Will morality and justice be delayed? By the real signs on the ground in Arizona, as opposed to national hype, probably no. It will, nevertheless, be an everlasting blemish on the character of the electorate of Maricopa County. It wasn’t as if you, and actually we, didn’t know.

The better question is what becomes of the righteous Adios Arpaio movement? Honestly, if this level of awareness and action had been brought here in relation, early on, to the Scott Norberg deaths at the Maricopa County Jail facilities run by Joe Arpaio, perhaps soooo much more death, destruction and liability could have been avoided. Not to detract from anything, everything, existing now, that did not then, in the way of putting a stop to Arpaio, is it enough? No, likely the current effort, much less this post, is not.

But, then, let it not be said there was not effort and argument made between then and now. There is a man, Arpaio, who should be removed from office and, if the electorate’s voice is willing to suffer exactly that, a remedy for the corpse of Matty Atensio, who died for Jesus’s sins, but so far, apparently, not Arpaio’s sins. Like an imperious “Wall Street Bankster”.

Where is the bullshit in Maricopa County going to end? Will the truth of the civil, criminal and moral liability of “The Toughest Sheriff in Town” be exposed? Only the voters of Arizona, who are not half as stupid as generally portrayed, will decide.

I sincerely hope intelligence and discretion win out over appearance and material duplicity. But, then again, such would not seem to be the characteristic of the modern Arizona electorate. It is a screwed up place in a screwed up time.

But, if the Leader of the Free World, Barack Obama,much less Joe Biden, cannot even be bothered to haul at least one of their self serving ass here to Arizona, when the election and morals are on the line, in a state in the process of turning from Red to Blue under the absentee watch, then why exactly should lifelong Democrats here give a flying fuck about the national ticket? Seriously, tell me why?

So, there is no national action, to even respectably mention, in Arizona. Arizona has been left to fend for itself as being useless and worthless by a craven two party system of two hollow jackasses but, even more significantly, by a national press system of court jester reporters, stenographers, and thin skinned puppet stringed mopes who cannot tell the difference between themselves and the common political flaming jackasses they cover. There is a national press who shouts “Semper Fi” while selling out everything they were trained and hired to do. I know several will read this, the question is who among them will adopt it, who will ignore it, and who will whine like pathetic thin skinned poseurs? Boo yah bitches, I am waiting. Show us your colors; if you cannot now in the heat of battle, then when? Answer up.

Which leaves us where we entered, with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a blight upon Maricopa County. Unelect him. Adios Arpaio.

There are further vignettes to be painted regarding Arpaio. Here are a couple of particularly poignant ones. Arpaio And Thomas: The Most Unethical Sheriff And Prosecutor In America Conspire To Abuse Power And Obstruct Justice oh, and not to mention the seminal “House Judiciary Cuffs Joe Arpaio, The Most Abusive Sheriff In America“. Read and know both if you want to know Sheriff Joe.

Unelect this guy!

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Immunizing Crimes: Blankfein, Zirbel, and Arpaio, but Whither Corzine?

DOJ has been doing a lot of immunizing of late. There’s Lloyd Blankfein, who not only ripped off his clients with “one shitty deal,” he then lied to Congress about it. There’s Matt Zirbel,* the CIA officer who had Gul Rahman doused with water and left to freeze to death in the Salt Pit. And there’s Joe Arpaio, who used the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office to investigate his political enemies.

DOJ immunized all these men in the last month, in spite of a vast amount of publicly available evidence clearly showing their crimes. And while DOJ had the courage to announce their decision about Blankfein and Goldman Sachs on a typical news day, not so their announcements about Zirbel and Arpaio–DOJ slipped those announcements into the journalistic distraction of Paul Ryan’s dishonest speech and Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, and the more generalized distraction of an imminent holiday weekend.

But with these grants of immunity, DOJ cleared the board of most of the politically contentious cases of immunized criminals just in time for election season. The Goldman banksters could donate with no worries, the NatSec types wouldn’t pull an October surprise, and Republicans couldn’t claim Arpaio was caught in a witch hunt because of the witch hunts he himself conducted.

DOJ cleared most, though not all, of the politically contentious cases they plan to clear though. The exception may prove the rule.

Read more

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Did Obama Screw Himself on SB1070 with Secure Communities?

As the press is reporting, SCOTUS largely overturned AZ’s “Papers Please” law. It left just one part–but the most important part–in place for further court review: the part that required cops to check the status of people they stop and require them to check the status of people they arrest.

Section 2(B) of S. B. 1070 requires state officers to make a “reasonable attempt . . . to determine the immigration status” of any person they stop, detain, or arrest on some other legitimate basis if “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States.” Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §11–1051(B) (West 2012). The law also provides that “[a]ny person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released.” Ibid. The accepted way to perform these status checks is to contact ICE, which maintains a database of immigration records.

In deciding not to overturn this part of the law, Anthony Kennedy’s opinion noted that Congress already encourages local officials to consult on immigration status.

Consultation between federal and state officials is an important feature of the immigration system. Congress has made clear that no formal agreement or special training

needs to be in place for state officers to “communicate with the [Federal Government] regarding the immigration status of any individual, including reporting knowledge that a particular alien is not lawfully present in the United States.” 8 U. S. C. §1357(g)(10)(A). And Congress has obligated ICE to respond to any request made by state officials for verification of a person’s citizenship or immigration status. See §1373(c); see also §1226(d)(1)(A) (requiring a system for determining whether individuals arrested for aggravated felonies are aliens).

So the ruling says we will have to wait to see how AZ courts interpret the breadth of the law before finding it conflicts with US law by permitting, for example, the detention of suspected aliens until a status determination can be completed.

Some who support the challenge to §2(B) argue that, in practice, state officers will be required to delay the release of some detainees for no reason other than to verify their immigration status. See, e.g., Brief for Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard et al. as Amici Curiae 37, n. 49. Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns. See, e.g., Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U. S. 323, 333 (2009); Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U. S. 405, 407 (2005) (“A seizure that is justified solely by the interest in issuing a warning ticket to the driver can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission”). And it would disrupt the federal framework to put state officers in the position of holding aliens in custody for possible unlawful presence without federal direction and supervision. Cf. Part IV–C, supra (concluding that Arizona may not authorize warrantless arrests on the basis of removability). The program put in place by Congress doesnot allow state or local officers to adopt this enforcement mechanism. But §2(B) could be read to avoid these concerns. To take one example, a person might be stopped for jaywalking in Tucson and be unable to produce identification. The first sentence of §2(B) instructs officers to make a “reasonable” attempt to verify his immigration status with ICE if there is reasonable suspicion that his presence in the United States is unlawful. The state courts may conclude that, unless the person continues to be suspected of some crime for which he may be detained by state officers, it would not be reasonable to prolong the stop for the immigration inquiry.

[snip]

There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced. At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to assume §2(B) will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law.

SCOTUS has basically permitted this part of the law to remain on the books until AZ is shown to be overstepping Federal jurisdiction on detention decisions.

But while that happens, the Obama Administration will be (and has been) expanding a mandatory status check program at the federal level, Secure Communities. Just since this litigation began, for example, the Administration has made it mandatory for local law enforcement entities to participate in Secure Communities.

And while that only pertains to those booked into jail–so not the jaywalking Latino used in Kennedy’s opinion–it does make it easier for AZ to justify part of the program. And it makes the process of checking status more routine by mandate.

Ultimately, what happens with this part of the law may come down to the fight between DOJ and Joe Arpaio as much as anything else. He’s precisely the kind of person who will abuse the provisions, and this will give DOJ an additional lever to respond if and when he does and is upheld by state courts.

But all that may lead to some Latinos spending a lot of time in jail before then.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Legal Henchman Andrew Thomas Gets The Axe

I have written several times over the years about the unethical antics of Andrew Thomas, the disgraced former elected County Attorney in Maricopa County Arizona. (See: here, and here and here for instance).

The article at the last link was, with unwitting prophecy, titled “Arpaio And Thomas: The Most Unethical Sheriff And Prosecutor In America Conspire To Abuse Power And Obstruct Justice“. Indeed, subsequent to that article, Thomas resigned as Maricopa County Attorney, lost a bid to be elected Arizona’s Attorney General and was charged with a blistering set of ethics violations by the Arizona Supreme Court via their Disciplinary Board.

Nearly two and a half years later after the prophetic article, those chickens have come home to roost for Andrew Thomas. After the appointment of bar discipline investigators/prosecutors from Colorado to avoid conflict, the assignment of the Chief Disciplinary Judge to the case, and a two month long, very public, adversarial hearing, the Arizona Supreme Court has just issued its decision against Andrew Thomas and his two of his top aides while at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

The court found insufficient evidence and dismissed a couple of the initial charges against Thomas. However, as to pretty much the entirety of the remaining thirty (30) plus counts, the court found ETHICAL VIOLATION BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE.

Wow, this is a first rate tarring and feathering, as to Thomas primarily, but his key aides Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander, as well. Andrew Thomas and his go-to assistant Lisa Aubuchon have both been disbarred. The other assistant, Rachel Alexander, has been handed a much more severe suspension that anticipated, which was set at six months and one day, the extra “one day” being assessed to put her in a harder position to be reinstated. Harsh.

Thomas was charged in in a total of 30 of the counts counts, Aubuchon in 28 and Alexander with seven counts. As Yvonne Wingett and Mike Kiefer summarized in the Arizona Republic:

Charges cover a variety of allegations, including conflict of interest for holding press conferences to denounce the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which was his client, and threatening county officials with litigation; falsely claiming a judge had filed Bar complaints against Thomas, in order to have the judge removed from a case; and seeking indictments against county officials to burden or embarrass them. In one case, the charges allege, Thomas and Aubuchon brought criminal charges against a county supervisor even though they knew that the statute of limitations had already expired on the offenses.

The most serious allegations involve filing criminal charges against a sitting Maricopa County Superior Court judge without probable cause in order to stop a court hearing. Several of the allegations of ethical misconduct revolve around a federal civil racketeering lawsuit claiming that judges and county officials conspired against Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The importance of these holdings, and the attendant disbarment of Andrew Thomas and Lisa Read more

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Arpaio And Thomas: The Most Unethical Sheriff And Prosecutor In America Conspire To Abuse Power And Obstruct Justice

In addition to some of the finest weather and most spectacular natural beauty in the US, Arizona is also home to two of the biggest and most virulent self serving political hacks imaginable, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. For years, there has been an escalating turf war between the Siamese twins of local law enforcement oppression, Arpaio and Thomas on the one hand, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa County judiciary, who keep trying to reign in the out of control officers, on the other hand.

Last week, Arpaio and Thomas upped the ante in the war by filing a civil racketeering suit in Federal court. From The Arizona Republic:

Alleging widespread conspiracy, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday against county administrators, elected officials, judges and attorneys. Those defendants, they say, are violating federal racketeering laws by hindering criminal investigations and depriving their offices of resources.

County officials dismissed the claim as frivolous, saying Arpaio and Thomas have routinely lost on similar claims in state and local courts.

In the lawsuit, Thomas and Arpaio name all five members of the Board of Supervisors along with County Manager David Smith, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, four Maricopa County Superior Court judges, director of the county’s civil-litigation division, two attorneys and a law firm.

The suit, in essence, reiterates all of Thomas’ battles with the courts and county since 2006, including accusations of conspiracy by Judges Barbara Mundell, Anna Baca, Donahoe and Fields, claiming that the dispute began with the court’s opposition to Thomas’ immigration policies. It revisits the questions Thomas raised about the new $341 million court tower. Donahoe removed Thomas’ office from that investigation, and the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Donahoe’s decision. Coincidentally, on Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to reconsider that case. (emphasis added)

The last part in bold is key. Thomas and Arpaio have waged war against Maricopa County, the courts, elected officials and anybody else that dares to question or restrain their use and abuse of power. The issue here is a local concern, under purely Arizona state law, on which Thomas and Arpaio have resoundingly lost at every level of Arizona court, all the way to the Supreme Court of Arizona. With disdain and contempt for any court disagreeing with them, which is pretty much every court that reviews their conduct, they have now tried to counter the rule of law by tying the entire Maricopa County government in knots through spurious and unethical application to the Federal court.

The Judge Donahoe referred to in the Arizona Republic quote above is Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Criminal Judge Gary Donahoe. Arpaio and Thomas have a special vendetta against Judge Donahoe and, today, doubled down on their crusade by criminally charging Judge Donahoe with bribery, hindering prosecution and obstruction based, amazingly, primarily on the same complaints and facts that the entire spectrum of trial and appellate courts in Arizona have previously rejected. From a late breaking story today by The Arizona Republic: Read more

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.