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Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff and longtime Overlawyered mentionee Joe Arpaio did not keep close track of the military-grade gear the Pentagon gave him — in fact, his office seems to have lost some of it — and now the feds are lowering the boom: “Because of the agency’s continued failure to locate nine missing weapons issued by the Pentagon’s 1033 program, the Sheriff’s Office was terminated from the military-­surplus program, effective immediately. The agency is required to return its cache of issued firearms, helicopters and other gear within 120 days.” Arizona Republic reporter Megan Cassidy quotes me regarding the interesting timing of the announcement, following closely after events in Ferguson, Mo. helped stir a nationwide furor over the 1033 program. It’s not specified (h/t Lauren Galik) whether they’ll have to give back the hot dog machine and $3,500 popcorn machine.

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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]

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Taxpayers of the Arizona county are shelling out millions in settlements to compensate victims of the systematic abuses committed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and D.A. Andrew Thomas. The latest settlement, $1.4 million, was to a developer whose office was ransacked as part of a series of raids conducted against Arpaio’s and Thomas’s political enemies, purportedly in search of evidence of political corruption. “Thomas was disbarred for his actions last year, but Arpaio was re-elected to a sixth term as sheriff in November.” When organized lawyers display higher ethical standards than an electorate, I’m not sure it reflects well on the electorate. [Aaron Kase, Lawyers.com, Phoenix New Times; earlier on Arpaio and on Thomas]

November 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 13, 2014

  • Italian appellate court overturns conviction of seismologists on manslaughter charges following 2009 L’Aquila earthquake [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • “The most ominous outcome in last week’s election: A band of big-bucks civil attorneys almost picked off an Illinois Supreme Court justice because they believe he’s a threat to their big paydays.” [Chicago Tribune on Karmeier retention] More: lawyers aren’t through with him yet [Madison County Record]
  • They were expecting any different? “Landlords Say de Blasio Ignores Their Plight” [New York Times]
  • “Liberties,” they said: New York Civil Liberties Union represented complainants who got couple fined $13,000 for not renting farm for a same-sex wedding [Ann Althouse]
  • Michael Greve on citizen suits, deadline-forcing consent decrees, and “sue and settle” [Liberty and Law] Why Germany rejects the citizen-suit device [same]
  • Harry Reid planning to push through large number of nominees in lame duck session, few more controversial than Sharon Block at NLRB [On Labor] (7 a.m. Thursday update: White House withdraws Block)
  • Maricopa County, Ariz. sheriff and perennial Overlawyered favorite Joe Arpaio sues building owners after sidewalk trip/fall “as he headed to a restaurant to get a bowl of soup” [AP/Yuma Sun]

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Three columns to read on the subject: Gene Healy, Glenn Reynolds (linking this site), and Nat Hentoff (like Healy, a Cato colleague) in his syndicated column (thanks for mention). I had a letter to the editor yesterday in the Frederick News-Post drawing connections with local lawmakers (as well as a blog post at Free State Notes with similar themes) and the Arizona Republic quoted me Tuesday on the federal subsidy programs that drive militarization, including transfers to the ever-controversial Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of Joe Arpaio. Earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.

P.S. Also quoted on NPR.

Never mind what rightish pundits have to say about the Perry indictment. Leftish pundits like Jonathan Chait are tearing it to shreds all by themselves. It reminds me of when prosecutor Andrew Thomas, sidekick of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, pressed charges against some of Arpaio’s political rivals over actions within their official authority, an episode that ended with Thomas’s disbarment. Chait:

They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. …

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.

When you’ve lost not just David Axelrod and Matt Yglesias but even Jonathan Chait and Scott Lemieux for a legal complaint against a conservative, you’re not just aboard a sinking ship, it’s more like you’re grasping a piece of random driftwood.

P.S. John Steele Gordon, Commentary: “the blow back from left, right, and center is so intense that Perry may well be the first public official to actually gain political clout from being indicted.” (& welcome Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog readers)

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After 17 months the federal government has released heavily redacted information in response to a FOIA request, shedding new light on the probe into the systematic abuses committed by Sheriff Joseph Arpaio and allied county D.A. Andrew Thomas. We’ve been covering them for years. [Arizona Republic, auto-plays]

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Law enforcement roundup

by Walter Olson on August 10, 2012

  • Domestic law enforcement use of drones should require a warrant [Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial] “Are license readers an invasion of privacy? ACLU asks police agencies to elaborate on use of readers, data collection” [Baltimore Sun]
  • “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is hands down my favorite Sacha Baron Cohen character” [Matt Oswalt, background]
  • “Protester accused of bank robbery for holding ‘You’re Being Robbed’ sign” [CBS Philadelphia]
  • “How a Single Oxycontin Pill Nearly Ruined One Man’s Life” [Mike Riggs, Reason] Good Samaritan shields could help in overdose emergencies [Reason] Milton Friedman on the Drug War [Tim Lynch]
  • After Washington Post exposed widespread unreliability in forensics, DoJ, FBI to investigate thousands of cases [WaPo]
  • Lynne Stewart 10-year rap upheld: “stark inability to understand the seriousness of her crimes” [Reuters, earlier]
  • “Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Eight-Year Sentence for Taking Pictures of Legal Sex” [Reason] One family’s nightmare with the sex offender registry [Mary DeVoy, Virginian-Pilot via Lenore Skenazy]

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January 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 5, 2012

  • Big business vs. free markets again: light bulb makers “fuming” over GOP effort to restore consumer choice [Sullum] Large grocery chains like DC’s bag tax [Tim Carney]
  • Eeeuw! Bystander can sue train fatality victim whose body part flew through air and hit her [Chicago Tribune]
  • “Recommended Cell-Phone Ban Comes as ‘Shocking,’ ‘Heavy-Handed’ To Some” [Josh Long, V2M]
  • “Exploding churros are newspaper’s fault, Chilean court rules” [AP]
  • In New Jersey and North Carolina, GOP friends of trial bar block legal reform bills [Armstrong Williams, Washington Times]
  • Kozinski vs. ill-prepared lawyer in case of Sheriff Arpaio vs. newspaper that covered him [The Recorder; Phoenix New Times case]
  • Federal judges block cuts to in-home personal care services in California, Washington [Disability Law, San Francisco Chronicle, KQED]

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October 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 31, 2011

  • A pack of gum, e.g.: “What the Proceeds of a BlackBerry Class Action Could Buy” [Rebecca Greenfield, Atlantic Wire]
  • A million law firm ads later: “Pfizer’s Anti-Smoking Drug [Chantix] Isn’t Riskier Than Patches, FDA Says” [Bloomberg]
  • Over 9/11 attacks: “Court Recommends al-Qaida Pay $9 Billion to Insurers” [NYLJ]
  • Green alarmism over cosmetics — justified? [Dana Joel Gattuso, CEI; related here, here]
  • Arpaio-Thomas follies continue in Arizona courtroom [Coyote, earlier]
  • Upcoming: November 4 conference “Silenced” in D.C. on blasphemy laws and hate speech; Bruce Bawer, Nina Shea et al. [Federalist Society]
  • “I dreamed I swayed the jury… in my Maidenform bra” [Retronaut, scroll]

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September 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2011

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Bad enough when the media caters to this sort of thing, but when government itself does it, you may have crossed into Arpaio territory [Coyote] Related: David Kravets, Wired.

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March 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 28, 2011

  • Maricopa-cabana: Sheriff Arpaio uses tank (with Steven Seagal along) to raid cockfight suspect [KPHO, Coyote, Greenfield, Balko]
  • Malpractice reform in New York is about more than money (though it’s about that too) [Paul Rubin, TotM; NYDN]
  • EEOC initiative combats alleged employer bias against unemployed job applicants [Bales/Workplace Prof, Hyman]
  • After court rejection of Google Books settlement, where next? [Timothy Lee/ArsTechnica, David Post]
  • When your lawyerly conduct has been eviscerated by Judge Easterbrook, you know it [Above the Law]
  • Ninth Circuit rules on legality of keyword advertising using other firms’ trademarks [Coleman]
  • Election showdown over future of Wisconsin Supreme Court [PoL, more, Esenberg, Althouse]
  • Legal battle follows NYC’s attempted application of sidewalk bicycle ban to unicyclist [AP]

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January 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2010

  • Pa. cash-for-kids judge allegedly came up with number of months for length of sentence based on how many birds could be seen out his office window [Legal Ethics Forum, with notes on ornithomancy or bird divination through history]; “The Pa. Judicial Scandal: A Closer Look at the Victims” [WSJ Law Blog on Philadelphia Inquirer report]; feds charge third county judge with fraud [Legal Intelligencer, more]; state high court overturns convictions of 6,500 kids who appeared before Ciavarella and Conahan [Greenfield]; judge orders new trial in Ciavarella’s eyebrow-raising $3.5 million defamation verdict against Citizens’ Voice newspaper in Wilkes-Barre; some web resources on scandal [Sullum, scroll to end]
  • Says drinking was part of her job: “Stripper’s DUI Case Survives Club’s Latest Attack” [OnPoint News, earlier]
  • Hundreds of lawyers rally to protest Sheriff Arpaio, DA Thomas [Coyote, Greenfield, ABA Journal, Mark Bennett interview with Phoenix attorney Jim Belanger, earlier here, here, and here]. In deposition, Arpaio says he hasn’t read book he co-authored in 2008 on immigration [Balko, Coyote] And as I mentioned a while back, Maricopa D.A. Andrew Thomas turns out to be the very same person as the Andrew Peyton Thomas toward whom I was uncharitable in this Reason piece quite a while back.
  • Ted Roberts, of the famous sex-extortion case, begins serving five-year term [AP/Dallas News, KENS]
  • New Hampshire lawsuit over leak of documents to mortgage gadfly site raises First Amendment issues [Volokh, earlier here and here]
  • Did someone say paid witness? Judge tosses decade-old animal rights case vs. Ringling circus [Orlando Sentinel, Zincavage] Bonus: Ron Coleman, Likelihood of Confusion, on PETA and Michelle Obama;
  • How’d foreclosure tax get into Connecticut budget when both parties claimed to oppose it? [Ct. News Junkie]
  • Best-legal-blog picks of Ryan Perlin, who writes “Generation J.D.” for the Maryland Daily Record, include one that’s “humorous though sometimes disheartening”, while La Roxy at Daily Asker salutes a certain website as “Lurid, i.e. satisfying”. Thanks!

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December 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 21, 2009

  • “CBO Stands By Its Report: Tort Reform Would Save Billions” [ShopFloor; our weekend post on what actually wound up in Reid bill]
  • “Indianapolis Tacks on Steep Fines for Challenging Traffic Tickets” [Balko]
  • “Fugitive Located Inside Homeland Security Dept. Office” [Lowering the Bar]
  • Assumption of risk? New York courts field legal complaints over mosh dance injuries [Hochfelder]
  • Company claiming patent on Ajax web technique is suing lots of defendants [W3C, ImVivo via @petewarden]
  • Why Arizona voters still back Sheriff Joe [Conor Friedersdorf/Daily Dish, von Spakovsky/NRO (deploring "persecution" of Arpaio), Greenfield]
  • “Are Breast Implants and Donated Organs Marital Assets?” [Carton, Legal Blog Watch]
  • “Disbarment Looms for First Attorney Convicted Under N.J. Anti-Runner Law” [NJLJ]

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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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New Jersey dental assistant Amber Arpaio found herself an asterisk-to-an-asterisk in the history of political scandals when it was reported that Ashley Dupre used Arpaio’s lost driver’s license to pass for more than 17 when she made a “Girls Gone Wild” video that later became notorious after the exposure of Dupre’s paid liaison with Gov. Eliot Spitzer. So now Arpaio is suing Dupre and Joe Francis, impresario of the “Girls Gone Wild” series. The news coverage of the lawsuit contains no indication that Arpaio suffered any damage to her credit record or other tangible interests from the affair, but she wants upwards of $10 million in cash solace for defamation and invasion of privacy, and, per her attorney, because “when someone searches her name on the Internet, pornographic material comes up.” Much better, when someone searches her name on the Internet, for intimations of litigiousness to come up. (Nancy Dillon, “Duped by Dupre: N.J. woman charges Spitzer call girl with identity theft”, New York Daily News, Jul. 17; AP/Comcast, Jul. 17)(& Prettier Than Napoleon). Plus: complaint at The Smoking Gun (h/t commenter VMS).

More 7/22: Thanks to commenter Eric Turkewitz for pointing out that Dupre had posed as Arpaio in actual news coverage, not just in the signing of film releases and the like, which makes the basis for the suit less unreasonable than I had hastily assumed.

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