Sheriff Joe Arpaio took the stand yesterday in a civil lawsuit brought against him by civil rights groups and Latinos for alleged racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. During his testimony, he denied well-documented statements he previously made in a number of settings, apparently unaware that modern technology captures his every word. Ray Stern, who blogs for the Phoenix New Times, was in the courtroom to document what was said.
For example, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Stanley Young, asked Arpaio if it was his policy to go after illegal immigrants first, and their crimes second. Arpaio denied that was the case, so Young played a video of an Arpaio news conference in which the sheriff stated that he has a ”pure” program that targets illegal immigrants and “not the crime first.” Time after time, Young played or read evidence from Arpaio interviews that contradicted the testimony the sheriff just gave in court–quotes from a 2009 speech in Texas, from an interview on the Glenn Beck show, from an article in GQ Magazine. But the worst courtroom impressions, according to blogger Stern, came during confrontations over Arpaio’s book, Joe’s Law. Whenever examples of the bigotry contained within its pages was read to him, Sheriff Joe blamed his co-author, Len Sherman, for having written those passages.
Problem is, author Len Sherman remembers things differently, and today he said so. Sherman told the New Times that he did his best to reflect Arpaio’s ideas in the book’s first-person account. One passage at issue in court is this: “My parents, like all other immigrants exclusive to those from Mexico, held to certain hopes and truths.” Sherman, blamed by his collaborator for that quote, clarified today: “Anything that starts ‘My parents’…would more likely be attributed to what [Arpaio] said.” But not only did Arpaio blame Sherman, he also stated in court that he doesn’t agree with those words.
Enter a second naysayer, ready to hold the sheriff’s feet to the fire. Joe Dana of Phoenix’s Channel 12 News found a video from 2008 in which Arpaio encourages an audience to buy his book by saying, “One thing I don’t do is lie. I was very careful writing this book. I wrote it like I was testifying in court,” as you can see him doing here:
Oh, really, Sheriff Joe? Then it should be a lot of fun listening to your words at the next trial–the one where the Department of Justice takes you to court. Perjury in a civil lawsuit like the one currently going on rarely gets prosecuted–but the DOJ? It’s also bringing a civil lawsuit. It remains to be seen whether the Feds will be so lenient.
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