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Judge In Arpaio Contempt Case Calls Emergency Hearing

The judge overseeing the contempt of court case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered an emergency hearing on Thursday after the sheriff’s lawyers failed to turn over certain documents.

Federal Judge Murray Snow was visibly frustrated and sternly told Arpaio’s lawyer, Michele Iafrate, that he was “not very impressed” with her delay in producing the documents that are owed to other parties in the case.

Last week Snow ordered Iafrate comply with plaintiffs’ request to turn over certain documents that once belonged to Arpaio’s former lawyer, Tim Casey. The plaintiffs' side is deposing Casey on Tuesday. Those attorneys are expected to question him about MCSO’s failure to follow Snow’s 2011 injunction that forbade the agency from detaining unauthorized immigrants who had not committed state crimes.  

It is unusual for an attorney to be deposed, but after the defendants in the case testified they were acting on their lawyers’ advice, it opened the door for their lawyers to be questioned.

Cecillia Wang of the American Civil Liberties Union informed Snow on Thursday morning that she had still not received the documents from Casey’s file despite Snow’s earlier order. He announced an emergency hearing on Thursday afternoon after learning the issue had still not been resolved.

Snow ordered Iafrate to provide the documents in question to the other parties over the weekend. He said she should enlist the help of associates from the other law firm representing Arpaio to get the task done quickly.

Snow also ordered lawyers for Maricopa County to resend documents they owe all parties, since they had initially provided thousands of records in a non-searchable PDF format.

The contempt of court hearings are scheduled to resume later this month. 

Updated 6:41 p.m.

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