PHOENIX (CN) - Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former attorney testified Wednesday that he first became concerned his one-time client was violating a federal court order during a 2012 trial over racial profiling.
In 2011, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow enjoined the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office from continuing its controversial practice of detaining undocumented immigrants.
But appearing before Snow this week, attorney Tim Casey said he began to believe Arpaio was ignoring the order after sheriff's deputies testified during the racial profiling trial that they still had the authority to detain undocumented immigrants for federal authorities to pick up.
Arpaio has admitted he is in civil contempt of court for failure to train deputies on making constitutional traffic stops and failure to deliver documents to the court.
Before Casey heard Arpaio give this testimony, Arpaio claimed not to "know that level of detail, kind of a non-response response," Casey testified.
"We talked about it after the trial that that was not the advice, that was not the instruction given to you by the order," Casey said.
Casey said he could sense a "disconnect" between Arpaio and former Executive Chief Brian Sands, who is also accused of civil contempt, after the trial.
Sands' testimony in 2012 that Arpaio was not familiar with what was happening in the agency "did not sit well with the sheriff, and there was a problem between them after that," Casey said.
Casey also admitted that he knew one sheriff's department official showed a lack of understanding of the court order, despite emails and phone calls explaining what the agency could or could not do during traffic stops.
That official, Sgt. Brett Palmer, was in charge of writing training scenarios to comply with the order, but one scenario still called for deputies to take undocumented immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"You had some concerns about Sgt. Palmer's knowledge or understanding when you got the scenarios," stated John Masterson, Arpaio's current attorney.
Casey responded by saying it was clear to him that Palmer did not understand what he and other department officials were told about the meaning of the order.
But he went on to say that he made corrections to the scenarios and explained them to Palmer, who then submitted them to Sands.
"I was reassured that he understood, and he conveyed that it was arrest or release and they couldn't turn [undocumented immigrants] over to the feds," Casey testified.
Casey said he came up with the idea of training scenarios, but that it was Sands who had to communicate them to officers.
"[Sands] actually expressed relief because he never liked turning people over to ICE," Casey claimed.
Casey defended Arpaio, claiming the sheriff was only concerned about the order when it came to leaving undocumented immigrants out in the desert.
"Sheriff Arpaio said, 'Are you telling me I've got to leave them in the desert to die?" Casey claimed. "I told the sheriff there is nothing under Judge Snow's order that prevents you from providing humanitarian assistance."
The court also heard brief testimony from Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, who could not recall whether or not he received a number of emails from Casey about the preliminary injunction order.
MacIntyre, did agree with Dan Pochoda, an attorney for plaintiffs with the ACLU of Arizona, that the Sheriff's Office "has an interest in using the media to get its version of events out to the media."
Arpaio was called to the stand in the last 30 minutes of the hearing Wednesday. He is expected to testify Thursday and Friday.
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