40,000 signed petitions calling for an end to the prosecution of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio were hand-delivered to the Department of Justice by National Center for Police Defense (NCPD) President James Fotis Wednesday.
“After devoting 56-years of his life to upholding and defending the Constitution, Sheriff Arpaio deserves our nation’s eternal gratitude — not jail time,” the petitions read. “[T]he case against him is nothing more than a political witch-hunt.”
Arpaio is facing a criminal contempt charge in relation to a decade-old “racial profiling” lawsuit initiated by the ACLU and the DOJ Civil Rights Division. Because the charge is a misdemeanor punishable by only six months in jail, Arpaio does not have a constitutional right to a trial by jury. “He’s asking for a trial by jury,” Fotis told Breitbart News of Arpaio. “The judge is refusing.”
Prosecutors are reportedly seeking jail time for the 85-year-old who lost his re-election bid this past November after 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, Arizona. In those years, he gained a reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff,” coming under harsh criticism by open-borders advocates and civil libertarians.
As Breitbart News’s Ken Klukowski reported in April, there are serious questions about the propriety of certain aspects of Arpaio’s civil trial, which led to these charges. Judge G. Murray Snow of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, who presided over the original lawsuit and made the referral for contempt prosecution, had a brother-in-law who works at Covington and Burling, the firm representing those suing Arpaio in the first place. His failure to recuse himself casts a shadow over this criminal trial begun at his behest.
A delegation from the NCPD, having collected over 40,000 signed petitions in support of Arpaio, came to deliver them personally at the main DOJ building in Washington, DC. James Fotis, the non-profit organization’s president, was met outside by Justice Department Deputy Director of Public Affairs Wyn Hornbuckle, who shook his hand and accepted the petitions.
“We believe this is a miscarriage of justice. The charges should be dropped. Apraio should be released and allowed to go off and have a decent retirement … he served in law enforcement for 50 years,” Fotis told Breitbart News before delivering the petitions.
Fotis thought both the original lawsuit and the criminal contempt prosecution were politically motivated, driven in part by Arpaio’s reputation as a tenacious enforcer of immigration laws. “Sheriff Arpaio didn’t break any laws. All he did was ask – for illegal immigrants and criminal immigrants – for ICE to pick them up. And that’s what he’s basically being attacked for,” Fotis explained.
As things stand today, Arpaio’s misdemeanor trial is still scheduled in Federal Court in Phoenix at the end of the month.