Former members of Arpaio's inner circle testify

Posted at 4:56 PM, Sep 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 19:56:19-04

The former lawyer for Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday that he privately confronted the Arizona lawman known for his sweeping immigration patrols over his mistaken understanding of his powers as sheriff.

The lawyer was one of three former members of Arpaio's inner circle to be questioned Wednesday in a contempt-of-court hearing before Arpaio himself takes the stand. That could happen later Wednesday or Thursday.
The hearing focuses on Arpaio's decision to allow his deputies to conduct immigration patrols 18 months after they were told to stop them. The sheriff also is being called into court for his office's failure to turn over traffic-stop recordings before the profiling trial and bungling a plan to gather the videos once they were publicly revealed.
The hearing will also address allegations that Arpaio investigated the judge in the case in a failed bid to get him disqualified and that his deputies pocketed personal items seized from people during traffic stops and busts.
The six-term sheriff could face civil fines and could later be called into criminal court on similar grounds.
Under questioning Wednesday from the judge, Tim Casey, an attorney who defended Arpaio's office in the case for nearly six years before bowing out in November, said he privately confronted Arpaio during the 2012 profiling trial about a key flaw in the sheriff's thinking about his immigration powers.
The sheriff mistakenly believed that his officers could detain immigrants who hadn't been suspected of a state crime until federal immigration authorities pick them up, Casey said.
Casey said Arpaio responded by saying he didn't get into the details of the matter and had delegated it to subordinates.
During an initial round of contempt hearings in April, Arpaio acknowledged defying the judge's orders to quit doing immigration enforcement.
"I want to apologize to the judge that I should have known more of his court orders," Arpaio testified. "It slipped through the cracks."
He is also expected to testify about allegations that he orchestrated an investigation into U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who concluded in 2013 that sheriff's deputies had profiled Latinos during regular traffic stops and immigration patrols.
The judge confronted Arpaio about the investigation during the April hearings. Weeks later, Snow said the investigation was intended to show an alleged conspiracy between him and the U.S. Justice Department, which was pressing a separate civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio.
The sheriff, who has been accused of retaliating against his critics in the past, insisted that he had not investigated Snow.
Instead, he said his office examined allegations that wiretaps had been put on emails and phones of local judges and lawyers defending him in the Justice Department case. Still, Arpaio acknowledged that he had lost confidence in the informant who provided the tip.
Documents that have since been released show that Arpaio's office was pushing the informant for anything to back up his claims about the conspiracy on the eve of the April contempt hearings.