Arpaio aide: Appears deputies took IDs as prizes

Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-29 21:45:32-04

Hearings to decide whether to hold Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in contempt of court continued Tuesday, with Arpaio's chief deputy and former attorney taking the stand.

Arpaio is accused of violating a court order that demanded the office stop conducting controversial immigration patrols. The sheriff defied the order for 18 months, which is a key part of the contempt hearings, and could leave him facing fines or even being called into criminal court.

Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan was on the stand answering questions by both the plaintiff’s attorneys and federal Judge Murray Snow.

Snow questioned Sheridan about the 1,500 IDs deputies confiscated during racial profiling traffic stops, further probing if the Sheriff's department was investigating each incident. Sheridan told Snow he didn’t recall.

Snow has questioned in the past, and continues to question, why the IDs of Mexican nationals were confiscated. Snow has pointed out in past hearings, if the driver gave sheriff's deputies a Mexican ID, then they couldn’t be claiming to be US residents. 

The largest revelation came when Snow asked Sheridan if it appeared deputies "may have taken the identifications as … trophies?"

Sheridan gave a long pause before answering, "It appears that way.”

Following Sheridan's testimony, Arpaio's former attorney Tim Casey took the stand.

Casey withdrew from Arpaio’s 2012 case and told the court it was indirectly in part because of a federal injunction ordering Arpaio to stop detaining illegal immigrants solely on immigration status. In 2011, a federal court judge ordered the Sheriff either arrest or release. 

After the Sheriff's office issued a press release stating he expected ICE would start refusing to take the immigrants he had detained, he implemented a "back up" plan where he took them straight to the border. 

In an email, Casey warned the Sheriff he could be violating orders and would set off contempt of court proceedings. 

Casey soon withdrew from the case and when asked why he said his client had become resistant. 

At one point, Casey testified Arpaio told him, "he was the Sheriff and would make his own decisions."

"I think what we're seeing is the unraveling of the corruption inside MCSO," said Lydia Guzman, a plaintiff in the case representing Somos Americanos.

The hearing is expected to continue through the rest of this week.