A price tag for Arpaio’s journalist raid

by Walter Olson on December 24, 2013

Longtime Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio talks quite a game as a populist defender of the ordinary citizen. His actual record, however, has been one of grave abuse of power. One of the worst incidents has now come home to roost: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a $3.75 million settlement over an incident in which Arpaio’s deputies arrested two critical journalists at their homes in the middle of the night. [Phoenix New Times]

{ 10 comments }

1 Bill Poser 12.24.13 at 1:34 am

This incident would seem to provide an excellent basis for federal criminal prosecution of Arpaio under 18 US 241.

2 John Rohan 12.24.13 at 10:29 am

Keep in mind the context, though. Arpaio isn’t just fighting criminals. He is also constantly fighting the state and federal government who can’t stand that he actually tries to enforce laws against illegal immigration.

3 Igor 12.24.13 at 1:53 pm

Regardless of Sheriff Joe Fighting the Good Fight, nobody should be arrested in the wee hours of oh-dark-thirty. This truly smacks of Socialist practice!

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

YMMV, but if he’s so abusive, why do the citizens keep re-electing him?!?

4 Allan 12.24.13 at 2:05 pm

Why does this “smack” of “Socialist practice”?

I think the fascists did this. So did dictators. In fact, I think even Americans did this in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I am pretty sure the Communists in the USSR did this and the Communists in China, Cuba, and North Korea do this. Heck, even monarchies and theocracies engage in this practice. I am not aware of a “Socialist” government doing this.

Repressing the press is not the exclusive domain of any political group.

5 Richard 12.24.13 at 6:31 pm

They keep re-electing him because most voters are not inconvenienced by his misconduct, and buy the constant but unsupported general assertions that he is “fighting the good fight.”

6 ras 12.24.13 at 8:16 pm

Allan,

I’m pretty sure Stalin and his successors headed the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics … and Hitler led a National Socialist party of some name or another … amongst many other examples.

Obscure historical references aside, Socialists are not the only repressors, just statistically the “most likely to attempt repression” in the 20th century. The Islamists appear to be making a move to win back the title this century though. Top-down, total control, highly-centralized power is the goal; the philosophy merely is its MacGuffin.

7 JTW 12.26.13 at 8:59 am

So one incident of 2 journalists being arrested who later had to be let go is evidence of gross and repeated abuse of power?
I’d say it’s evidence of the long arm and big buying power of journalists that they can, despite being guilty as hell, get away with almost anything (and I’ve no doubt in my mind those journalists would have been guilty of things like trespassing, disturbing the peace, invasion of privacy, destruction of property, etc. etc. etc.).

8 Walter Olson 12.26.13 at 10:31 am

JTW — To get to the “gross and repeated” part, you might need to go past the incident of arresting journalists who’d been critical of Arpaio (despite the $3.75 million settlement you’re willing to assume the journalists must have been guilty of something, which must … simplify your view of press-state relations). You might want to check the years of stories about Arpaio and his now-disbarred county attorney sidekick, Andrew Thomas, right
here on Overlawyered, or better yet (and for much more detail) check out what Arizona pro-freedom blogger Coyote has to say (follow the links, for example, from this paragraph:

When Arpaio is not busy arresting folks for breathing while Mexican (he once managed to make a crime sweep through the 99% Anglo neighborhood of Fountain Hills and arrest 75% Mexicans), he likes to haul folks off to jail whose only crime is speaking out against the Sheriff . He arrested (with Thomas’s help) newspaper reporters and editors who wrote critically of him. This is a man who in his paranoia invented an assassination plot (against himself, of course) and got the city to spend $500,000 protecting him. If his deputies want to see a defense attorney’s working papers, they just take them. If he can’t get a judge to release computer records, he has his posse storm into the County computer center and take it over at gunpoint.

It’s noteworthy that what finally got Arpaio in the most trouble was turning his abusive methods against other power-holders, specifically opponents on the county Board of Supervisors and a judge that had ruled against him.

9 gitarcarver 12.26.13 at 2:50 pm

It is clear that Mr. Olson doesn’t realize that the only reason why this agreement was reached was because of the pressure from the White House on Arpaio’s “Cold Case Posse” looking into Obama’s birth certificate.

(and yes, that was sarcasm.)

10 TexJudge 12.28.13 at 1:14 pm

This is a prime example of a grossly excessive settlement. What are the damages? No injuries and a brief stay in jail. I can see maybe $25,000 apiece at most. No private sector business would ever agree to this but here you have politicians with no bottom line to worry about so they get to play with other people’s money.

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