Legal Ethics

Ex-lawyer for Joe Arpaio testifies in the former sheriff's contempt trial

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Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Joseph Sohm /

A former lawyer for Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was forced to testify Monday in Arpaio’s criminal contempt trial for allegedly violating a judge’s order.

Arpaio, who lost his bid for re-election, is accused of violating a court order that barred him from detaining people only because he believed they were in the country illegally. His former lawyer, Tim Casey, testified on Monday that he told Arpaio that immigrants could not be detained unless they were arrested on state charges, report the Associated Press, the Phoenix New Times and the Arizona Republic.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton generally allowed Casey to testify about his recollections of conversations, but generally blocked testimony involving hearsay or Casey’s frame of mind, according to the Arizona Republic account. Casey was represented by his own ethics lawyer.

Prosecutors say Arpaio continued to detain individuals based on a suspicion that they were in the country illegally for at least 17 months after the judge ordered a stop to the arrests. In opening arguments, Justice Department lawyer Victor Salgado said Arpaio’s public statements show he knew he was defying the court order.

“I’m still gonna do what I’m doing,” Arpaio told reporters in April 2012. “I’m still gonna arrest illegal aliens.”

Arpaio’s defense lawyer at trial, Dennis Wilenchik, claimed the injunction wasn’t clear and Casey had “dropped the ball” in explaining the order.

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