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Plaintiffs In Arpaio Contempt Case Want to Question Sheriff’s Lawyers

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the racial profiling case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are arguing they should be able to question the sheriff’s attorneys.

Arpaio’s legal counsel have not yet had to testify in the contempt of court proceedings against the sheriff’s office.

Under oath in the first contempt hearing held last month, Arpaio had to tell the court how his office wound up violating the court’s 2011 order in a racial profiling lawsuit that instructed the sheriff to stop enforcing federal immigration law. One of the explanations Arpaio gave is that he delegated compliance to his attorneys and relied on their advice for implementing the order.

Lawyers for the ACLU of Arizona, which represents plaintiffs in the original racial profiling case, say if Arpaio’s defense relies on his communications with his counsel, plaintiffs should be able to depose his attorneys and get documents relevant to those communications.

“Plaintiffs seek leave to take document discovery and deposition testimony from attorneys and MCSO personnel who have been involved in these matters, including Tim Casey, Tom Liddy, Christine Stutz, and any attorneys employed the Maricopa County Attorneys’ Office (“MCAO”) who conferred with MCSO personnel about matters relating to the preliminary injunction,” reads the motion authored by the ACLU of Arizona’s Joshua Bendor.

So far the sheriff’s lawyers have claimed attorney-client privilege.

None of the lawyers named in the motion are actively representing Arpaio at this time. Tim Casey withdrew late last year for an undisclosed ethical reason. Tom Liddy, who is employed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, filed a motion to withdraw from the case at the start of the April contempt hearing. He argued there is a conflict of interest for him and other MCAO attorneys to represent the sheriff due to the work they also do for Maricopa County. Stutz is also at the County Attorney’s office. Liddy’s motion has yet to be formally approved by the court.

Casey's name surfaced in the hearing when Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan testified that Casey hired a private investigator to speak with a woman who had alleged knowledge of comments purportedly made by the wife of the judge overseeing the case. The woman, Karen Grissom, sent a Facebook message in August 2013 to the sheriff saying she’d heard Judge Murray Snow's wife say the judge “hates” Arpaio and “will do anything” to get him out of office.

Casey's ethics counsel has said her client was “not involved in any investigation of Judge Snow or his family."

At the end of the first round of the contempt hearing on April 24, Snow cleared the courtroom to discuss an issue under seal that seemed to have to pertain to Liddy and Casey. Both attorneys since responded to a sealed order by filing letters under seal to a magistrate judge to review.

Plaintiffs initially subpoenaed Casey for a deposition in March, but temporarily withdrew the request at that time after Casey and Arpaio’s current attorney, Michele Iafrate, objected due to attorney-client privilege.

Iafrate will respond to the plaintiffs’ motion next week.

The contempt hearing against the sheriff and his staff is expected to resume in June.

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.