On Tuesday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s negotiations with the Department of Justice ended before they began when “America’s toughest sheriff” refused to agree to a court-appointed monitor who would oversee the settlement agreement, The Arizona Republic reports. In December, the DOJ accused Arpaio’s department of violating the civil rights of Hispanics by racially profiling and denying important services to Hispanic inmates.
If negotiations cannot resume, the DOJ will likely commence a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
The Justice Department's allegations against Arpaio's department were the result of a two-year investigation into the MCSO's practices. In a 22-page report, federal investigators alleged that Arpaio and the MCSO had violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Title VI of the U.S. Constitution.
In response to the alleged violations, the DOJ offered to negotiate with Arpaio, in order to reach an agreement on how to modify the MCSO's practices. The negotiations were set to begin on Wednesday.
Before negotiations could commence, however, Arpaio stood his ground, refusing to allow a monitor and canceling his meeting with the DOJ, the Washington Post reports. This was the second time Arpaio's attorneys had canceled negotiations at the last minute.
"I'm fairly certain what they're asking us to do is surrender statutory and constitutional authority to the DOJ and we're not willing to do that," said John Masterson, Arpaio's attorney.
"DOJ considers the oversight of an independent monitor to be an absolute necessity for meaningful and sustainable reform," wrote Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy L. Austin in a letter to Masterson. "We believe you are wasting time and not negotiating in good faith."
The DOJ indicated that the sheriff's refusal to negotiate in good faith requires the Department to begin preparing a lawsuit. Arpaio seemed unfazed: "I wanted to resolve this act in good faith, but it's not working out that way."
- Find a Phoenix Criminal Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Sheriff Arpaio not backing down from U.S. Department of Justice (AZfamily.com)
- Police Misconduct and Civil Rights (FindLaw)
- DOJ: Sheriff Joe Routinely Violated Civil Rights Laws (FindLaw's Phoenix Criminal Law News Blog)