Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio case: No official criminal contempt of court charges yet

Posted at 7:45 PM, Oct 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-22 01:21:12-04

There's a holdup in the criminal contempt case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Department of Justice lawyers made a big splash ten days ago with an announcement they would pursue the case, which stems from Arpaio's failure to follow court orders in a racial profiling case.

Lawyers from both sides have filed rounds of paperwork over the past week, including a proposed Order to Show Cause, for the federal judge to sign. The judge, Susan Bolton, has not yet acted. Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton says this case is unprecedented.

"I think the reason, if any, for this process is because it is so new that she and the lawyers want to be very careful about doing it the right way," Charlton said. 

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Charlton says he has confidence the court will follow through.

"There will be a charge brought," Charlton predicted.

Arpaio's legal drama unfolds as he faces his toughest re-election bid to date.  Polls vary wildly,  from Arpaio, a Republican,  up 7 points to Democratic challenger Paul Penzone up 15 points.

Arpaio called the case against him "garbage" in a recent political commercial, and his campaign says it's an attempt by the Obama administration to influence the election.

"It is pure Chicago-style politics: go in, influence them, trash the other guy, drag it out, get the headlines, and every turn attempt to destroy them. I think it's going to backfire," campaign spokesman Chad Willems said.

Willems says the campaign has seen a surge in volunteers and donations since prosecutors announced their intent to file charges.