A federal judge ruled on Friday that Arizona’s Joe Arpaio is in contempt of court for violating an order meant to end to racial profiling in his sheriff's department.
Arpaio, who has declared himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” and his three top Maricopa County deputies failed to enact changes that targeted minorities, Judge G. Murray Snow said on Friday.
This case has been moving through the courts for several years. In 2012, Arpaio was forced to defend his infamous policies, and in 2013, Snow ruled that the department had to reform. The American Civil Liberties Union countered in 2015 that Arpaio’s office had not complied with the ruling. Arpaio admitted that they had not enacted the reforms, but blamed bureaucratic inefficiencies for the delay.
But Friday’s ruling could result in criminal prosecution. A hearing has been set for May 31 to determine if Arpaio will face criminal contempt charges, which could result fines or jail time but will not prevent Arpaio from holding office.
According to Snow’s ruling, a monitor will be appointed by the court to make sure reforms are implemented.
In a statement to Fusion, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s attorneys said they that while “disagreeing with some of the court’s findings,” they would work with the court-appointed monitor.