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Judge: Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Face Contempt Sanction

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By Kamika Dunlap on February 17, 2010 2:15 PM

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in the hot seat again.

This time the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" may face a contempt sanction.

A federal judge has found grounds to impose sanctions against the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for destruction of records in a lawsuit involving racial profiling.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow said the sheriff's office was negligent for not holding onto the documents. The case centers on Arpaio's use of volunteers and deputies to sweep through Latino areas in search of immigration violators. In addition, his officers admit to deleting their e-mails about the patrols and shredding records of traffic stops made during the sweeps.

That's grounds enough for sanctions to be imposed against Arpaio, but the judge ruled that he would do so at a later date once more issues were hammered out.

What is a sanction?

It is part of a law that is designed to secure enforcement by imposing a penalty for violation of the law or offering a reward for its observance.

As previously discussed, the lawsuits filed by a group of Latinos allege that Arpaio's office made traffic stops on them with no probable cause to pull them over.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is widely known for tough jail policies, making inmates wear pink underwear, serving them green bologna sandwiches and making inmates listen to his holiday hits playlist, as previously discussed.

Peter Kozinets, one of those attorneys, said the documents that were destroyed would have been the proof his clients needed to show how deputies were selective in whom they approached during the sweeps.

The judge also said that plaintiff's attorneys can again depose Arpaio to question him about his own 800-page immigration file (he said he has not in fact read all of the file or his own co-authored book, and is not too fresh on the 4th amendment).


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