Wednesday, July 30, 2008

US Dept Justice asked to investigate Sheriff Arpaio for willful 'civil rights violations'


By Brenda Norrell

PHOENIX -- Recently, on an Amtrak ride across America, an elderly man bragged about purchasing a pair of panties signed by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. First, I thought he was joking. Then I just wanted to throw up.
This same sheriff, glorified as a romantic hero and cowboy-style sheriff, is actually a criminal. This is the ultimate in what the U.S. fantasy-news media produces; making heroes of villains, bullies and racists.
Attorney Michael C. Manning, on behalf of his clients, asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Sheriff Arpaio for abuse, cruelty, willful civil rights violations and other crimes.
Here is an excerpt:
" ...in 2001, MCSO guards in the same jail killed another young man in the same Restraint Chair. This time it was a 125lb retarded man who lived with his Mom and Dad. We took that case on and tried it before a jury. The jury unanimously awarded our clients $9,000,009.
Eight MCSO jailers were found liable for taking this man's life; none were ever disciplined and most were actually given MCSO promotions! "----
A Censored News blog reader writes:
Sheriff Joe is getting more attention, and perhaps he likes this kind also.
In late April, Phoenix-area attorney Michael Manning sent to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey a 10-page letter requesting that the U.S. Dept of Justice investigate Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for violations of law.
That is to say, this popularly elected champion of tough-guy law and order is himself accused of the most serious law-breaking.
Sheriff Arpaio is accused of repeated -- for more than 10 years (and by his own admission) -- practices which are constitutional violations and have resulted in more than $40 million in legal costs and settlements paid by the taxpayers, PLUS deaths and injuries to inmates, and unlawful demands on, and encouragement of illegal behavior by, guards and other Sheriffs Dept employees.
All without any indications that harsh and cruel treatment of persons held before trial - or above incarceration times imposed by the courts, - has reduced crime.
But Sheriff Joe says "NO ONE" will tell him how to run his jails.
Here are some highlights from the request for Federal intervention:
Sheriff Joe has participated in or encouraged:
Use of excessive force resulting in at least 7 deaths
Willful disregard for the advice of penal consultants (including his own) to correct violations of law and poor management of his jails
Destruction and alteration of evidence
And recently the Sheriff had the publisher and editor of a local newspaper arrested after publicizing the Sheriff's activities and editorializing against them. The County Attorney approved the arrests -- until public outrage at both local and national levels forced him to drop the charges and dismiss the special prosecutor (a very highly paid business associate).
Manning is representing the owners of the Phoenix New Times in another Federal court action claiming violations of civil rights. The lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio is almost certain to result in another large settlement - they ask for $15 million - paid for by the taxpayers who fail to vote Arpaio out of office.
The majority of voter-taxpayers may think they are not really affected but, if so, they don't care about how their money is spent nor how the Constitution is protected. In violating a "few" persons' rights this representative of the government - a man with a big gun and bigger ego - jeopardizes the rights of all citizens. ------
Local law enforcement officials - and Cochise County, AZ is no different - often exceed the statutory and constitutional limitations on their powers. Rarely does any one challenge them, and, in our part of the world even more rarely do such excesses and challenges get reported in the very limited local media. DMM
How much have lawsuits and claims against the Cochise County Sheriffs Dept and the Sierra Vista Police Department (and other local PDs) cost taxpayers in cash so far?
It's not an insignificant amount (that is, it's in the millions), but it's hard to say exactly because local officials aren't keen on actively providing such public information, and ....
Did you read about it in the Sierra Vista Herald?
-----PS. I invite you again to consider the value of an "alternative press".
Also see: Arpaio's racist media targets Isabell Garcia, cochair of Derechos Humanos in Tucson
For a e-copy of the 10 page letter contact: brendanorrell@gmail.com
Photo: Arpaio protest in Tucson. Photo Brenda Norrell

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