Media Contact

April 20, 2015


PHOENIX—A contempt hearing is set to begin tomorrow, April 21, to address the Maricopa County Sheriff Office’s (MCSO) noncompliance with a federal judge’s orders in the lawsuit Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio. Over four days, evidence will be presented by the ACLU demonstrating why MCSO officials should be held in contempt of court.

Individuals facing contempt charges include Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapio, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, retired Executive Chief Brian Sands, Deputy Chief John MacIntyre, and Lieutenant Joseph Sousa.

As of now, three areas of contempt will be discussed: (1) MCSO’s failure to abide by the terms of the preliminary injunction, which prohibited deputies from detaining people solely on the suspicion that they are undocumented; (2) the agency’s failure to disclose audio and video recordings made and maintained by MCSO deputies, as well as other materials maintained by or relating to the MCSO Human Smuggling Unit; and (3) the department’s failure to cooperate with judicial directives made on May 14, 2014 with respect to the collection of recordings that were in the possession of MCSO deputies.

Sheriff Arpaio and Chief Deputy Sheridan have already admitted to disobeying court orders in these three areas.

Consequences for these violations will be decided following the hearing and could include fines, restitution for individuals detained in violation of the preliminary injunction, and increased authority for the court-appointed monitor. U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow could refer the charges to the U.S. Attorney’s Office if he determines, after hearing the evidence, that criminal contempt charges may be appropriate.

More information about the contempt charges can be found in Judge Snow’s February 12, 2015, Order to Show Cause, available here.

WHAT: Evidentiary hearings relating to civil contempt charges against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and its leadership.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 21 through Friday, April 24, 2015, beginning at 9 a.m. each day.

WHERE: Courtroom 602, Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse, 401 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85003.

WHO: The plaintiffs’ legal team, attorneys from the ACLU and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, will be available to reporters outside the courthouse at the close of each day’s hearings.