Arpaio Aide Bickers|With ACLU Attorney

PHOENIX (CN) – Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s chief deputy testified in a civil contempt hearing Thursday that he investigated his office’s alleged mishandling of evidence only because he knew an ACLU attorney “would be on our ass if we didn’t.”
     The admission came after ACLU attorney Cecilia Wang grilled Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation of Deputy Ramon “Charley” Armendariz.
     Sheridan, and Arpaio, have admitted they are in civil contempt of U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow’s 2013 preliminary injunction order to take steps to stop racial profiling.
     After Armendariz committed suicide in May 2014, it was found that he had secretly recorded traffic stops and confiscated drugs, license plates and identification cards without turning them over to the sheriff’s office.
     The investigation of whether members of Arpaio’s now-disbanded Human Smuggling Unit took items from the people they stopped yielded no criminal charges.
     “I felt compassion for those deputies assigned to the Human Smuggling Unit accused of crimes,” Sheridan said in a heated exchange with Wang.
     “We didn’t have probable cause to bring people in, detain them and issue their Miranda rights, but we did because we knew that you would be on our ass if we didn’t.”
     Armendariz, a member of Arpaio’s Human Smuggling Unit, testified during trial of the class action racial profiling case in 2012 that claims he threatened to charge a Hispanic man and woman with disorderly conduct were false.
     Sheridan denied knowing of the federal court order requiring the sheriff’s office to take steps to prevent racial profiling, despite a number of emails that showed he attended meetings on the matter.
     “I contend that it was not something that I considered to be something that demanded much of my attention,” Sheridan testified on Thursday. “I don’t ever recall reading it. I assume I received it because my name was on the email, but I did not historically open those emails; they were delegated to the executive chief.”
     Wang listed a number of emails sent to Sheridan directly or sent on his behalf, about updates in the case or arranging meetings between Sheridan and Tim Casey, then-counsel for Arpaio.
     “I’m saying right now today that that is something the chief deputy should have done, but it is not something that I did,” Sheridan said.
     Sheridan said at the time of the meetings he was busy handling the high-profile death of inmate Ernest Atencio at the hands of the agency’s detention officers, allegations that the sheriff’s office mishandled sex crime investigations, and the shooting of sheriff’s Officer Bill Coleman.
     “I had seen him around; he was a very big figure, but that was about it,” Sheridan said. “That was my involvement with Mr. Casey.”
     Casey’s attorney, Karen Clark, filed a motion Wednesday to keep him from testifying at the contempt hearing, claiming it would violate attorney-client privilege .
     Snow denied the motion, telling Clark that Casey will have to testify.
     The court also addressed Arpaio’s attorneys’ motion to prevent testimony related to Dennis Montgomery, a private investigator hired to investigate Snow’s family after an Arpaio supporter claimed the judge’s wife had said her husband wanted to keep Arpaio from gaining re-election.
     “The state of mind of the alleged contemptors is obviously important in determining the nature of the remedy,” said Stanley Young, an attorney for plaintiffs with Covington & Burling.
     Snow agreed, finding the investigations relevant for remedies and to determine the credibility of witnesses. He agreed to allow defendants’ attorneys to make individual objections to testimony related to Montgomery.
     The hearing continues Friday.

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