U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow of Arizona has been in control of a case heavily laden with conflicting interests, personal agendas and more involving Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for months.
The case started over Arpaio’s department’s alleged treatment of illegal aliens, or those suspected, advanced to an order on how to treat them, then a contempt proceeding on claims he failed to follow instructions.
At the latest turn, Snow signaled that the case might be referred for criminal contempt prosecution after a finding of civil contempt against Arpaio, chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Lt. Joe Sousa and former executive chief Brian Sands.
The judge claimed in his “findings” that several officers were “willfully” dishonest about the situation.
The case has been so convoluted that Snow at one point recommended a lawyer obtain her own legal counsel because of claims that were being made.
Among the issues that appear heading toward resolution is a plan for the sheriff to contribute $100,000 and have a fund set up to compensate those who allegedly were profiled by the sheriff’s office.
Related column (story continues below):
‘Il Duce’ judge out to destroy Sheriff Joe by Larry Klayman
But hovering in the not-too-distant future is a hearing schedule before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a request to have Snow removed from the case.
That could be a result that probably would mean much of the last year’s hearings, rulings and decisions could simply be voided.
It comes through one of the ancillary parties to the Arpaio case, Dennis Montgomery. He worked with the sheriff on several projects, and had been drawn into the courtroom battle because of that.
WND reported a year ago that the judge was being contentious with the investigator.
At the time, Montgomery’s lawyer, Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, said his client was being refused permission to participate – legally – in the case, although he was being drawn in through other actions.
Klayman said at the time Montgomery’s “rights are being severely harmed, on an ongoing basis. Mr. Montgomery must respectfully be allowed to intervene in this lawsuit in order to protect his property and other interests, which was previously ordered by this court to be handed over to third parties.”
Also raised at that time was the comment reportedly by the judge’s wife, “as confirmed by neutral persons,” that Snow was out to “destroy” Arpaio so that he could not be re-elected in 2016.
At the time, Klayman also explained the rancor is so bad in the case that his client, who had provided information at one point to Arpaio and was drawn into the current dispute that way, had filed a suit against the ACLU over their statements against him in the case.
“This case represents a multifaceted and growing conflict of interest not only by the ACLU and its attorneys but as important the equally unethical conduct by the court which must cease immediately,” a motion said.
At the time, at least two motions to remove Snow from the case were made, along with several other procedural motions. They were denied at the district court level, but now are pending on appeal before the 9th Circuit.
At the center of the effort to remove the judge from the contempt case is a statement from a witness, Karen Morris Grissom, who told the sheriff the judge hates him. The witness explained to Arpaio that she was a childhood friend of the judge’s wife.
Mrs. Snow, Grissom said, “told me that her husband hates u and will do anything to get u out of office.”
“This has bothered me since last year when I saw her.”
Then to make matters worse, the judge was accused of asking questions, apparently for his own investigation of the situation, in court.
“By his own official inquiry, statements, and questions in open court on the record, one of the investigations into which Judge Snow unexpectedly inquired during recent contempt proceedings concerns his spouse, Sheri Snow,” a motion then explained. “No reasonable person with knowledge of the facts can deny that Judge Snow is now investigating and presiding over issues involving his own family. This alone is sufficient to mandate recusal and disqualification.”
Snow himself also brought Montgomery into the case by raising questions about information he provided to the sheriff.