Arpaio can't disqualify judge in profiling case

Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 20:44:23-04

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's bid to disqualify a lower-court judge who is presiding over a racial profiling case against the lawman.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also denied a request by the sheriff that would have postponed contempt-of-court hearings set for next week against Arpaio for his acknowledged violations of court orders in the profiling case.

The sheriff had asked the appeals court to disqualify U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, saying the judge created the appearance of bias when he questioned Arpaio about two secret investigations involving the judge that were done on the sheriff's behalf.

One investigation examined a claim that the judge's wife had told someone that Snow didn't want Arpaio to be re-elected. The judge has said the other investigation was intended to show a conspiracy between Snow and federal authorities who pressed a separate civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio.

The sheriff's office and its top lawyers in the case didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The sheriff insists there were no investigations of Snow. Arpaio's lawyers say the sheriff had a duty to examine whether information provided by two investigative sources about the judge was true.

Snow rejected the sheriff's disqualification request about two months ago.

The 9th Circuit said Snow's ruling on the disqualification request wasn't in error and that Arpaio's lawyers hadn't shown that the appeals court needed to intervene in the case.

Contempt hearings that began in April are tentatively scheduled to resume Sept. 22.

The hearings could lead to fines, increased oversight of the agency and a possible criminal contempt hearing for the sheriff.