Not what you might think, but we'll take it.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reinstated a federal civil rights and conspiracy lawsuit filed by Phoenix New Times owners Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a special prosecutor appointed by former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.A Federal District Court had found that Arpaio and Thomas had 'absolute immunity' from prosecution for these arrests because of their positions as law enforcement officers. The Ninth Circuit disagreed.
The claims in the lawsuit date to October 2007, when Lacey and Larkin were arrested in the middle of the night after publishing information in New Times about extensive subpoenas issued by special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik.
In an opinion issued today, a three-judge panel denied absolute immunity to Arpaio and limited immunity for Wilenchik, saying there was probable cause that they violated the owners' civil rights by retaliating because of the story and committing false arrest. The case was sent back to U.S. District Court with orders to move forward.I'd rather have seen Arpaio arrested for the hundreds of thousands of civil rights violations he and his Sheriffs' office have allegedly perpetrated on Hispanics in Arizona. E.g.,
Arpaio is accused in federal court of ordering some patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from people who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.Final arguments in that trial were made on August 16th; a judgement in the case could come at any time which will undoubtedly be appealed by the losing side. If it can be done at all, it will probably take several more years to get rid of Arpaio by means of the judicial system, and voting him out of office seems improbable at best.
Arpaio has raised more than $7 million this election cycle and has $4 million in cash on hand. National political fights with President Barack Obama have helped Arpaio’s fundraising outside of Arizona.It is a sad fact that old age (he is 80) may be the most likely reason he steps down as Sheriff, not any of his myriad abuses of power.