Sheriff Joe Arpaio Continues to Delay Civil Rights Investigation

August 17, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice threatened to sue controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he did not agree to turn over documents for a civil rights investigation. But so far, the sheriff’s office has still refused to cooperate, The Washington Post reported today.

The Civil Rights Division investigation is looking into claims of “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures” by Arpaio’s department, according to the Post. Arpaio has claimed since 2009 the he is being investigated for political reasons. On August 5, his lawyer accused the Justice Department trying to coerce him into cooperating with the civil rights investigation. “DOJ cannot require the reproduction of millions of pages of documents so DOJ can ‘see what it can find,’” his attorney wrote.

He still has not turned over documents to the DOJ:

Arpaio’s resistance is highly unusual: Justice Department officials said even the threat of such a lawsuit is rare. They added that they plan to meet with Arpaio’s lawyers next week in a last-ditch effort to forestall litigation. If the Justice Department eventually files a broader civil lawsuit, it could result in the department terminating the several million dollars in grants to Arpaio’s office each year or a judge’s order forcing him to change his policies.

Arpaio is also being investigated by a grand jury seeking to determine whether he abused his power to intimidate political opponents. Arpaio’s lawyers told the Post he is cooperating fully with the grand jury investigation.