Phoenix: taxpayers pay millions for county officials to sue each other

by Walter Olson on December 11, 2009

Coyote reports from Maricopa County, Arizona. And speaking of which, the furor over the erratic doings of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his allies keeps getting hotter: Coyote, Greenfield, Bennett, etc.

More on Maricopa-cabana: “New Turmoil in Embattled Ariz. County as Appeals Court Bans Sheriff from Searching Judge’s Computers” [ABA Journal]; “Rule of law erodes further in Maricopa County” [Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute]

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1 John Rohan 12.11.09 at 7:32 pm

To get a feel for what is going on, it’s not really a good idea to link to blogs that openly ridicule Sheriff Arpaio or bluntly say they despise him. The current situation is rather complex, and these blogs aren’t helping me understand it.

As someone who used to live in Arizona, I do know this: due to his tough stand against illegal immigration (overwhelmingly supported by voters), Arpaio has been a constant target by various Arizona officials, including former Governor Janet Napolitano. He spends huge amounts of time and money defending his office from lawsuits, budget cuts, frivolous charges, etc. Napolitano’s elevation by President Obama to the position of Secretary of Homeland Security has probably only emboldened his enemies further. I’m guessing these lawsuits are him hitting back in frustration after years of harassment. We’ll see when the smoke clears.

2 Bill Poser 12.11.09 at 11:56 pm

John Rohan,

This is by no means must a dispute over immigration policy. Whatever your views on immigration, Arpaio is abusive and out of control. To take just one example, when one of his employees, a detention officer, was caught red-handed stealing privileged documents from a defense attorney and convicted of contempt of court, Arpaio defended the officer and announced that he would not tolerate such behavior on the part of the courts.

3 Doug 12.12.09 at 8:56 am

“To get a feel for what is going on, it’s not really a good idea to link to blogs that openly ridicule Sheriff Arpaio or bluntly say they despise him. The current situation is rather complex, and these blogs aren’t helping me understand it.”

That does not make sense. Why? Is the good sheriff gonna come and point his guns at us? These blogs certainly help us understand the situation.

4 John Rohan 12.15.09 at 11:29 pm

Well, Doug, when a blog author comes out and says he despised Sheriff Arpaio, I call his/her objectivity into question.

And to Bill Poser: a man defending his employee who was caught in contempt of court? That’s a very weak example to call someone “abusive and out of control”.

5 Jeff 12.16.09 at 9:24 am

The whole picture is far more bizarre than you might think. (Alleged) abuse of immigration enforcement powers are at the bottom of the list. This Sheriff is a meglomaniac and it is getting worse. Cross him and you will find yourself under investigation for “unrelated” matters, as half the county officials can attest. The Judge who held his deputy in contempt? Under Investigation. He has had the county supervisor arrested three times. There was an administrative dispute over a law enforcement computer system shared by the county/state/city. His solution? Armed SWAT team. During his last election campaign, he announced that he was opening an investigation into his opponent. For incest. 30 years ago.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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