Monday, January 9, 2023

BREAKING, UPDATE: Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone APPEALS CIVIL CONTEMPT Order (READ Notice and Order)

UPDATE, 1/16, 4pm: The Opening Brief from the MCSO will be due April 19, with briefing completed in June.

Original article, 1/9, 3pm: "Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone APPEALS CIVIL CONTEMPT Order (READ Notice and Order)"

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone today appealed the latest civil contempt Order in the long-running Melendres civil rights case first brought against then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio. U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found Penzone in civil contempt because the backlog for internal investigations has continued to "balloon" despite Penzone's knowledge of it and despite there being budgets for additional personnel to deal with the backlog.

Snow found that for each month that the MCSO's Professional Standards Bureau does not reduce the backlog by at least 20 cases, the County has to pay more than $380,000 into a staffing fund. That amount is double what the MCSO told the court the annual cost to assign a sergeant to the Bureau.

The internal investigations are supposed to be completed within 85 days, but the most recent average is 500 days and there are 1,800 complaints in the queue. In his November contempt order (below), Judge Snow was upset that the backlog is "ballooning".

This contempt finding was not the best way for anyone to mark this case's 15th birthday in December. And, this is now the 10th time this case has been appealed to the 9th Circuit.

The Melendres case was brought by civil rights groups in 2007, when the MCSO was led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It detailed that the department was racially profiling Latinos in an effort to find immigrants in the U.S. illegally. A court monitor was hired to ensure that the MCSO was remedying related problems.

In 2016, Arpaio was found to be in criminal contempt of court for ignoring parts of the Court's orders. He was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump before the conviction became official and a sentence issued.

Penzone inherited the case and the court monitor when he defeated Arpaio in the 2016 election.

"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet. 

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