By Jacques Billeaud
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PHOENIX _ An Arizona sheriff known for his defiant political style will face questions in court for a second straight day over his disobedience of a judge’s orders in a racial profiling case.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio spent a half hour on the witness stand late Wednesday afternoon during a contempt-of-court hearing and is expected to resume his testimony on Thursday.
The lawman has already acknowledged the contempt violations, including that his office let its officers conduct immigration patrols for 18 months after the judge ordered them stopped.
He was shown news videos made after the patrols were banned in which Arpaio proclaimed he would continue enforcing immigration laws. He explained in court that he was referring to other state immigration laws that his office was allowed to enforce at the time.
Arpaio also was asked about whether his immigration efforts were politically driven. “It wasn’t politics for me. I was trying to enforce the laws,” he said.
The six-term sheriff also is being called into court for his office’s failure to turn over traffic-stop recordings before the profiling trial and bungling a plan to gather the videos once they were publicly revealed.
He could face civil fines and possibly a criminal contempt case.
Other subjects being examined at the hearings include allegations that Arpaio launched a secret investigation of the profiling case’s judge in a failed bid to get him disqualified and that his officers pocketed personal items seized from people during traffic stops and busts.
He is expected to face tough questions on his investigation involving U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who delivered a setback to Arpaio in 2013 when he concluded that sheriff’s deputies had profiled Latinos during regular traffic and immigration patrols.
The judge has said the investigation was intended to show an alleged conspiracy between him and the U.S. Justice Department, which was pressing a separate civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio.
Arpaio, who in the past has been accused of retaliating against his critics, had insisted that he hadn’t investigated Snow. Instead, he has previously said his office was examining allegations that wiretaps had been put on emails and phones of local judges and lawyers defending him in the Justice Department case.