Constitutional right to being tried before a jury of one’s peers denied former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton rejected arguments that a jury trial was needed to avoid the appearance of bias by Judge G. Murray Snow who recommended the criminal charge against the former sheriff.
Arpaio is charged with criminal contempt for defying a 2011 court order in a case stemming from his workplace patrols of illegals. Arpaio pleaded not guilty to the charge. He acknowledged violating the order but insisted the breech wasn’t intentional.
His trial is set for April 25. Judge Bolton, a registered Independent, was nominated to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench by Democrat Pres. Bill Clinton, based on a recommendation from then-U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican with John McCain’s concurrence. She was confirmed by a voice vote.
If convicted, Joe Arpaio, who will be 85 on Flag Day, June 14, could face up to six months in jail. His wife Ava battles a serious illness, but age and infirmities take a back seat to politics as usual. Though both of his parents were legal Italian immigrants, he was characterized in the media as being anti-immigrant for doing the job the citizens of Maricopa County reelected him to an unprecedented six four-year terms to do.
Mel McDonald, Arpaio’s lawyer, is the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Although McDonald argued that an elected official’s actions should be decided by an impartial jury of his peers, he said his client won’t appeal this latest decision. “It’s not surprising,” McDonald is quoted as saying, noting that Bolton had previously said she was leaning toward deciding the case herself. Bolton declared there is no inherent right to jury trials in cases in which potential jail sentences are limited to six months or less.
This August 2016 post provides background on the motivation of U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow, whose temper and apparent vendetta against Arpaio were frequently on display as he initially put this unsavory legal scheme into action