PHOENIX (AP) — New lawyers for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed motions in federal court Monday to have his criminal contempt-of-court charge dismissed or have the scheduled April 25 trial date pushed back 60 days.
Dennis and Jack Wilenchik said “the case should be dismissed because the government did not bring a criminal charge until October 25, 2016 — a mere two weeks before the election — even though the judge had indicated that criminal charges were ‘at issue’ as early as December 2014.”
“The charge is therefore barred by the one-year statute of limitations,” the motion added. “Mr. Arpaio has previously stated that he believes that the timing of the criminal charge was politically motivated, and that it was intended to harm his chances of being re-elected.”
Arpaio, 84, lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county in November.
He’s charged with contempt for ignoring a court order in a racial-profiling case to stop his immigration patrols. Arpaio acknowledged prolonging his patrols, but he says his defiance wasn’t intentional.
If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail.
The Wilenchiks are joining lawyers Mark Goldman and Jeff Surdakowski in defending Arpaio.
Last week, attorneys Mel McDonald and Linda Kim Tivorsak were allowed to quit the case after citing ethical concerns in representing the lawman.
The Wilenchiks once represented a former Arpaio aide in a civil contempt case over the violation of the immigration-patrol order.
The father and son law team asked for the continuance to prepare their defense and also said Arapio has the right to a jury trial.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton rejected Arpaio’s request for a jury to decide whether he should be convicted of the misdemeanor charge. Instead, the decision will be made by Bolton.
“A continuance is proper in order for the court to fully address whether the defendant is guaranteed a jury trial, or whether the statute of limitations has run, before conducting a bench trial that may be rendered unnecessary or erroneous,” the Wilenchiks’ motion said.
Goldman, who joined the case in mid-March, already has made two unsuccessful attempts at delaying Arpaio’s trial. He had sought a 60-day delay because he has another trial a week earlier and his son’s bar mitzvah is scheduled for April 29.
Bolton ruled last month that Goldman shouldn’t have taken the case if he wasn’t available for the trial and added that Arpaio has other lawyers representing him.
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