MONICA LINDSTROM

Legally Speaking: Breaking down the likely arguments in Joe Arpaio’s contempt case

Mar 29, 2017, 9:28 AM | Updated: 11:10 am
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)...
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Joe Arpaio might be out of a job but he isn’t out of the legal system yet.

He is no longer the sheriff of Maricopa County but he is still dealing with the consequences of his actions while in office. Although his successor, Paul Penzone, took his place (so to speak) in the long-lasting civil case regarding racial profiling, Arpaio still faces criminal contempt charges.

His trial is scheduled to begin in late April.

A charge of criminal contempt of court requires the prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Arpaio was aware of Judge Murray Snow’s order to cease his immigration patrols, that the order was clear and definite and that Arpaio willfully disobeyed it.

As the cornerstone of its case, the prosecutor would like to use Arpaio’s confession he made on the stand while being questioned by Snow — the proverbial “smoking gun.” However, according to court documents, the defense team claims:

  • Arpaio’s confession was involuntary and he was coerced in making it
  • Improper promises were made to Arpaio that led him to believe he would avoid the criminal charges
  • His attorney failed to do their job and advise him that he could be criminally charged.

As such, the defense claims the smoking gun should be doused with water and then melted down. In other words, the confession should not be allowed in Arpaio’s criminal trial.

Now, you might be wondering how could the lead law enforcement officer of Maricopa County be “coerced” into confessing? How could he, who has been in law enforcement for years, not realize that he could face criminal charges if he confessed to not following a court order?

These are great questions and ones the assigned judge will want answers to.

Arpaio claims his confession in open court was the result of “psychological pressure” by Snow. In addition, since he was not allowed to leave the witness stand without the judge’s permission, he was “detained.”

Arpaio also asserts Snow “gave the impression that he was making the promise that if remedies were agreed upon in the civil matter, those remedies would extend to the criminal matter.”

Lastly, Arpaio claims his attorney never told him that he could face criminal charges.

Here is the bottom line: In order to use a confession, the prosecutor must be able to prove it was voluntary. How do you do that?

You look at the totality of the circumstances. According to Arpaio, while he was on the stand, he was pressured by the judge to confess, he was forced to stay on the stand and wasn’t free to leave, he was given false promises and his attorney failed to protect him.

Those circumstances do not paint the picture of someone who voluntarily and knowingly confessed to committing a crime.

If the criminal judge agrees, the confession will be thrown out and then the prosecutor would have to confess that his job to convict “America’s Toughest Sheriff” just became much more difficult.

Monica Lindstrom

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Arizona remains in state of confusion regarding abortions

Eventually, Arizona will have clarity on abortion law. For now, KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom says it is in a state of confusion.
7 months ago
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Abortion no longer a constitutional right, states to make decision

Roe and Casey are overturned. There is no longer a constitutional right to abortion. However, the question of whether an abortion is legal has reverted back to the states for each of them to decide on their own.
8 months ago
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: It will come down to the states, not Supreme Court, to rule on abortion legality

The issue of whether an abortion will be legal and any rules regarding it will revert back to the states, not the Supreme Court, for each of them to decide on their own, writes Monica Lindstrom.
9 months ago
Arizona State Courts Building (Arizona Governor's Office Photo)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Brnovich appeal to Arizona Supreme Court makes sense

KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom thinks it's a good move by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to petition the Arizona Supreme Court to hear his appeal in a case about laws that were ruled unconstitutional.
1 year ago
(File Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Why judge rejected Arizona ban on mask mandates

KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom explains the reasons behind a judge's decision to strike down Arizona's ban on face mask mandates.
1 year ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Police may need to be part of Phoenix oversight office

Phoenix's requirement that no current or former law enforcement be part of a new police oversight office appears to be in direct conflict with recently signed Arizona laws, writes KTAR News legal expert Monica Lindstrom.
2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Legally Speaking: Breaking down the likely arguments in Joe Arpaio’s contempt case