Judge: Arpaio Guilty of Criminal Contempt

(KFYI News) – Former sheriff Joe Arpaio has been found guilty of criminal contempt of court.  

After a five-day trial earlier this summer, Federal judge Susan Bolton ruled on Monday that the federal judge's order that Arpaio violated was clear.  That order barred the Maricopa County Sheriff from detaining anyone without reasonable suspicion that the person had committed a state crime.  

Judge Bolton goes on to say that Arpaio knew, or should have known, that the policy of detaining people just to check their immigration status was not allowed, and that he willfully violated the law by failing to make sure his subordinates complied.  She called his disregarding of the order for a period of nearly 18 months "flagrant".

Arpaio could face up to six months in jail and a fine when he's sentenced in October.  However, most legal observers believe that given his age and his lack of any prior convictions, the 85-year-old Arpaio will not serve any time behind bars.

Nevertheless, his attorneys plan to appeal the verdict.  Among other things, they continue to insist that Arpaio's right to a jury trial was violated by Judge Bolton, who ruled that for a misdemeanor charge with a penalty of six months or less, the law allows a judge to decide whether to hold a jury trial or a "bench trial", where the evidence is heard, and the verdict is reached, only by a judge.

Arpaio's lawyers are also holding out hope that the former sheriff could be pardoned by President Trump.  Attorney Jack Wilenchik told KFYI News, "If there was ever a pardon that was justified, it would be this case.  A person that has given his life -- 58 years -- to law enforcement is deserving of a pardon, and I hope that happens."

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