Migraine Blamed for Questionable Email

     PHOENIX (CN) – Raked over the coals in court Friday for possibly acting without court approval in a closely watched civil contempt case against his office, Maricopa County’s chief deputy sheriff could point only to his history of migraines.
     “I take medication every night to help prevent those headaches from occurring,” Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan told the court, while speaking of the migraine headaches he has suffered for 40 years. “That medication has some side effects that I don’t wish to talk about. And, I had a slight migraine that day.”
     The day Sheridan allegedly had a headache was the day he ordered Chief David Trombi to send an email to the agency’s commanders to collect all recordings from department traffic stops.
     That evidence was needed for a class action against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Sheriff’s Office for racially profiling Latinos during traffic stops or crime suppression sweeps.
     U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow had directed the office to collect such evidence “quietly,” however, saying it should work with court-appointed monitor Chief Robert Warshaw to determine the most efficient way to collect videos from deputies of traffic stops.
     Now Sheridan, along with Sheriff Joe and three other former and current Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office officials, face civil contempt charges accusing them of detaining and transporting undocumented individuals to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, failing to deliver data to the court, and failing to train deputies not to make unconstitutional stops despite a court order.
     Cecillia Wong, an attorney behind the 2007 racial-profiling class action against the department, questioned Sheridan why he never fessed up to Chief Warshaw about ordering Trombi to send the email.
     Sheridan defended the departmentwide directive as what seemed to him then as the “best” way to collect the evidence.
     “To this day, after having many, many hours to think about the issue on how best to gather videos that are in the hands of 700 individuals spread over 9,226 square miles, once we asked one deputy sheriff for the videos, how could we prevent anyone if they had the thought, the desire to destroy a video?” Sheridan asked the court. “The only way I could come up with that was if we served 700 search warrants all at once, [and] I don’t think that would ever work. There was going to be no perfect way if I had a corrupt deputy sheriff that was going to destroy that video.”
     Sheridan told Wong he was tired and confused when he spoke to the monitor moments after making the email order – two symptoms of his migraine problem.
     Michele Iafrate, counsel for defendants, broached the subject with Sheridan of the department’s alleged investigation into Judge Snow’s wife.
     “Do you know anyone that investigated Judge Snow or his wife?” Iafrate asked Sheridan.
     Arpaio admitted Thursday to knowing his former counsel hired a private eye to investigate Snow’s wife.
     “We did not investigate Judge Snow’s wife,” Sheridan said, claiming they only reached out to an individual after she claimed Snow’s wife made denigrating comments about Arpaio.
     Snow then joined in on the questioning.
     “Was it about me and did it make allegations that I was doing something illegal?” the judge asked Sheridan.
     “I can’t quote it verbatim but it was ‘I know Judge Snow’s wife she told me he hates you and he wants to see you out of office,'” Sheridan told the judge.
     The court also continued hearing matters regarding an ongoing ethical dispute involving Tom Liddy, who represented Arpaio and Maricopa County during the 2012 trial. Liddy excused himself Tuesday, but Snow has not yet granted or denied his motion to withdraw as counsel.
     Wong asked the court to remove Liddy from the courtroom under the rule of exclusion because Liddy may be called at some point as a witness.
     “I haven’t yet granted Mr. Liddy’s motion to withdraw, so is there going to be an objection to his motion to withdraw?” Snow asked, prompting Wong to quickly ask him to withdraw her request.
     Snow did ask Casey to leave the courtroom under the rule of exclusion. Casey may be called as a witness at a later date.
     The civil contempt hearing is expected to continue in June.

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