Politicization of Justice, part II

posted at 10:30 am on May 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, we saw that the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Department of Justice force career prosecutors to withdraw from a case that they’d already won against the New Black Panther Party over egregious voter intimidation in Philadelphia.  Today, the Washington Post reports that the DoJ now appears to be taking on a political fight against a conservative and controversial figure in Arizona.   A new investigation about alleged civil-rights violations has Sheriff Joe Arpaio fuming over what he sees as a political attack:

The lawyers representing a controversial Arizona sheriff who is under investigation for his treatment of Latino residents accused officials in the Justice and Homeland Security departments yesterday of political motivations in pursuing probes against their client.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and his office, which have drawn widespread attention for an unorthodox approach to crime and punishment, are the focus of three federal investigations into whether they violated federal rules or civil rights laws in pursuing illegal immigrants. …

Robert N. Driscoll, a District-based lawyer for Maricopa County who served as a civil rights official at the Justice Department early in the George W. Bush era, said he was seeking “assurances that political rivalries and score settling played no role in the investigations.”

In his letter, Driscoll said that a civil rights probe of the Arpaio operation began in early March, weeks after four influential Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called for an investigation into alleged discrimination and possible constitutional violations in arrests and in police searches and seizures.

I’m sure that Arpaio and Maricopa County are reassured after reading the DoJ response from their spokesman:

“Because this matter is open and ongoing, we cannot comment on the investigation other than to restate that career professionals in the Civil Rights Division began looking into this last year, and the Department made the decision to open this investigation in the same manner we make every such decision, based on the facts and the law,” Miyar said.

Oh, sure, we understand.  They will make those decisions based on the law, just as they did when they unilaterally reversed themselves in the NBPP case after they’d won it.  Because that was based on the law …. which found in the government’s favor … and which they then ignored.

Keep this in mind when the DoJ helps Norman Eisen determine who falls under the qualification of “anyone exerting influence on the [stimulus] process” in order to shut up its critics.

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What does this probe of Sheriff Arpaio; the dropping of the Black Panther intimidation case; the appointment of Sotomayor and the closing of the Chrysler dealerships have in common?
Is a pattern beginning to emerge?

OxyCon on May 30, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Tancredo/Arpaio 2012

Disturb the Universe on May 30, 2009 at 3:01 PM

He skirts the edge of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Not a fan here.

AnninCA on May 30, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Well if that’s not the most SHOCKING revelation on HA EVER!
Ann here’s a little insight for you: prison/jail is not supposed to be a nice place. It’s supposed to be somewhere you never want to go back to again. Prisoners should never be mollycoddled. Arpaio gives them no more than what they need to exist. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t commit the crimes to get them sent there. That’s how jails/prisons should be all across America. Sentences should be harsh. There are far too many people that are unconcerned with going to jail or prison because it’s a cake walk and they know that they’ll get treated well there, good health care, education (free), job skill training in some cases. That’s [email protected] It’s a punishment, and should be such. This liberal namby pamby BS of “cruel and unusual punishment” goes way too far. What is “cruel and unusual”? No cable? No Starbucks? No Macy’s One Day sales every Saturday? Too much…Sheriff Joe has it right!

mauioriginal on May 30, 2009 at 3:04 PM

KS Rex on May 30, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Yep. It was noticeable when Obama usurped the “Sheriff Joe” coinage, spreading the wealth again. Another back handed compliment, imitation and all. Actually, Obama is smug to both Biden and Arpaio while feigning respect for his Veep.

maverick muse on May 30, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Ann here’s a little insight for you: prison/jail is not supposed to be a nice place.

Unfortunately, too many people in California view imprisonment in the same way they view waterboarding: an extended form of torture. After all, these poor prisoners would never have turned to a life of crime if they had not been treated badly treated by an unjust society. Of course, we the Kalifornia taxpayers should be required to open our checkbooks and provide them four star accommodations, free college educations, free gym memberships in pursuit of the ultimate hard body, etc. I never, never, never hear these sob sisters discuss the details of the crimes these prisoners have committed: the pain inflicted on fellow human beings, the families and lives destroyed, the lives lost. I wonder how many times AnninCa has actually been in a corrections facility, and how many murderers/rapists/armed robbers she’s actually met? It’s nice to offer advice from your comfy living room sofa.

Kalifornia Kafir on May 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Law means squat to this President. It’s all about being the thuggiest thug, getting one up and ensuring all opposition has no recourse.

oakpack on May 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Don’t worry guys, AnninCa is our village idiot when April Orit isn’t available.

Not a fan? Well, I’m not a fan of our borders being wide open so that illegal aliens and heaven knows what else can just slink in like roaches in the middle of the day or the dead of night. Our Border Patrol cannot catch all of them, there is just too much border. I wish we could clone Sheriff Joe, we need him all over the United States. Our economy is in the toilet, we cannot afford to help out our people that do not have health insurance because they are trying to keep their small businesses in the black, while we give away FREE health care for illegal aliens that should be in JAIL or getting their happy asses back across that damn border and getting healthcare in their OWN country.
We are not an ATM, we cannot afford to pay for another country’s welfare class.
We need to take care of our own and we need law enforcement that can help our border agents enforce the law. It’s high time that our government pull their heads out of their keisters and get this problem under control.
It is going to be a complete joke because Sheriff Joe is going to be investigated for doing his damn job. He is keeping his community safe. His officers have been trained on what to look for and his jail is what jails should be…places that are uncomfortable. Maybe your state should take note, Ann, you are paying for top notch healthcare for prisoners, aromatherapy, and yoga for criminals. Meanwhile, your state is in the toilet financially. Looks like your elected officials could take some pointers from Sheriff Joe. Idiots, the lot of you Kalifornians.

HornetSting on May 30, 2009 at 3:48 PM

mauioriginal on May 30, 2009 at 3:04 PM

There’s a case building against Arpaio led by GWB appointment who determined that the Maricopa County Prison’s are no longer accredited claiming the prison system lacks proper hygiene and medical care. Arizona has been providing free county clinics and Maricopa has had a county hospital well over half a century at least. But as with CA, Maricopa’s Mexican illegal immigrants have flooded tax funded projects. There simply is not enough tax funds to provide MORE than exists, including with the prisons.

County sheriffs are assigned tax funding to which the sheriffs determine how to allocate the funds. Unfortunately, Arpaio clerks and deputies are not keeping records of anything, be it spending or files of cases, investigations, statistics and reports. Arpaio really needs to clean up his organization.

The tent prison system suits the circumstances, as showers and toilet plumbing would be intact. Tents, cots and menu are sufficient for convicted felons. Those conditions are not only reflected as living standards for our troops, they suited Arizona’s pioneers. And the tent camps aren’t the only prison facilities given the pre-existing buildings where medically challenged inmates would be sent. So the political move from progressives in office to demote the Maricopa Prison system into the unaccredited status is their power play to make the difficult situation even worse while propagandizing all the “best” intentions. They know that they are enabling prisoners to sue with legal standing.

Conferencing between the power players in Maricopa County is in deep deficit. Politicians are in the Left pocket, more now than ever, with their own agenda to bankrupt everything.

I do wish Arpaio the best in organizing his office. The county really needs to rally together without finger pointing and without blind eyes, given its mushrooming criminal environment. The AZ legislature needs to clarify its own vague stipulations as to each county sheriff having the specific responsibility to directly handle the warrants that no one claims responsibility for, yet.

maverick muse on May 30, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Conservatism and strict interpretation of law shall be punished. So sayeth the Messiah.

n0doz on May 30, 2009 at 4:08 PM

The four-term sheriff rose to national prominence in the early 1990s for his tough-on-crime policies, including a mandate that prisoners don pink underwear, work on chain gangs and live in canvas tents.

Pink underwear in prison? That is both cruel and unusual.

hicsuget on May 30, 2009 at 4:10 PM

It will happen this way-any one of several scenarios. Sheriff Joe will pull an illegal alien rapist off his victim but the important issue will not be the breaking and entering. Nor will it be the brandishing of a weapon and the terrorizing. Also it will not be the fact that the woman’s husband was strangled to death with a lamp chord. It will not even be the rape and sodomy itself. What’s important is that. in the heat of the moment, Sheriff Joe (or one of his deputies) will fail the read this creature his Miranda rights. For this Sheriff Joe will be arrested by Obama’s Brown Shirts and the rapist-murderer will be let go with an effusive apology.

Pick your poisons. The slightest mistake in administrative paperwork. Getting prisoners to mass testify about trumped up torture charges (how about water boarding?)Tax audits by Geithner’s Black Shirts where a normal, miniscule mistake is blown up into a phony tax evasion charges (Geithner ought to know). Get some slimy hooker to ooze out of the woodwork (Anita Hill style) to state that sheriff Joe not only misappopriated funds to use her of services and buy her silence but also made racial and ethnic slurs about her background. Succinctly, all the trumped up charges a Chicago hood would make against an enemy.

MaiDee on May 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

maverick muse on May 30, 2009 at 3:58 PM

I’m quite well aware of what is going on in Maricopa County and with Sheriff Joe. I’m an ardent supporter, as a county resident. I cast a vote for him every time I can. Having had dealings with the sheriff’s office I’ll be the first to tell you it’s not perfect. But please tell me what in this world is? I’m not the perfect parent. Who is? I’m not the perfect child. Who is? Nothing is perfect, and expecting perfection is unrealistic. Sheriff Joe has a HUGE job to do. The problems within his department are minimal in comparison to the great job he does. Does that suggest that they shouldn’t be fixed? No. I would have liked his deputies to investigate my hit and run accident. We joked that we were “white and legal” and that no illegal was involved so they weren’t interested. Ticked us off at the time. I’ll still vote for him over the alternative every time, because I know what Maricopa will be like without him.
Problems in his dept will only get worse as they take more money out of his budget and continue to waste time ( & $$) with BS witch hunts like this.

mauioriginal on May 30, 2009 at 4:47 PM

He skirts the edge of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Not a fan here.

AnninCA on May 30, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Ann, I am trying to figure why a liberal like you comes here so frequently. Bored with the Daily Kos?

bw222 on May 30, 2009 at 5:31 PM

Not to worry. Joe will be saved by Arizona’s powerful, influential Republican Senator.

PaCadle on May 30, 2009 at 5:56 PM

Selective enforcement and prosecution of the laws for political reasons………..

………. what could go wrong?

Seven Percent Solution on May 30, 2009 at 7:30 PM

Joe Arpaio is a seriously hardened man with little tolerance for playing namby-pamby political games. He cares very little for bureaucrats and simpering limp-wristed bed wetters who see the adjudicated and imprisoned criminals as the actual victims… victims of society.

Unless Joe Arpaio has been waterboarding inmates, intentionally depriving them of their Arizona Title 31 rights or United States Code Title 18 U.S.C. rights, they’re in for a helluva fight and they’ve bit off more than they can chew if Sheriff Joe chooses to fight. I can’t see him not if he is and has been operating within legal boundries.

They’ll have to bear the full weight of the United States Government on Arpaio and they’ll end up making him a martyr to every adult law abiding decent man and woman in the country.

By the way, I see some criers about the ‘pink underwear’ and ‘pink jail clothing’ suggesting it is cruel and unusual punishment. The fact is, psychological studies have proven that the color pink is a calming color. Pink has a calming influence and when combined with the mellow classical music and limitation to Disney Channel and nature shows on the inmates TV’s, it actually diminishes the raw intensity and anger so often pervasive in other jails.

Also, years ago inmates were stealing and wearing the white jail underwear when released from jail. Using pink clothes pratically stopped the entire loss and the monetary loss was greatly diminished saving the County 10’s of thousands of dollars every year.

Otherwise, Joe Arpaio is everything a Sheriff should be. Tough on crime and tough on the reprobate criminals… and all within the law.

SilverStar830 on May 30, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Sheriff Joe is one of the reasons I moved from California(although I was behind the Orange Curtain). I am also now proudly in the application process to join the Sheriff’s Posse. By the way, my great grandmother was from Mexico, she just came here legally.

JackofNoTrades on May 30, 2009 at 8:09 PM

My dear mom, God rest her soul, would every now and then remind us of what Alfred Hitchcock answered when asked what he, the master of moviemaking suspense and fear, most feared himself.

Hitch’s answer? “The law.”

Godspeed Sheriff Joe.

tigerlily on May 30, 2009 at 8:18 PM

He skirts the edge of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Not a fan here.

AnninCA on May 30, 2009 at 1:41 PM

His prisoners live in better conditions than a lot of US servicemen and women. Google the Korengal Outpost or KOP, Afghanistan. Maybe if jail and prison really did become uncomfortable again, crime would not be so appealing.

hawkdriver on May 30, 2009 at 9:09 PM

mauioriginal on May 30, 2009 at 4:47 PM

We share similar views. Arpaio’s responsibilities are monumental, and whatever problems exist within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office were there before he ever got elected. The divisive politicking has mushroomed into inordinate proportions, creating friction where there needs to be cooperation. As I mentioned, the Goldwater report blamed Arpaio for faults due to vague legislation, rather than blaming the legislators who failed to clarify responsibilities in bills passed and signed into law; and blamed him for poor clerical clarity from employees he did not hire and who obviously are disinclined to document files and reports in a timely fashion.

My families pioneered Arizona and Maricopa County where I was born and raised, and where we were married and our children were born before returning to my spouse’s home in Central Texas. “You can never go home” is the old adage; but I follow the civic news with sincere interest. But not being there now, it helps to hear from those who are. Otherwise, when I read reports, I’m only projecting what I know from a distance into the findings to keep from swallowing the author’s twist.

That we live in an imperfect world as imperfect creatures may be all there is left to say. I hope the community unites with civic pride.

maverick muse on May 30, 2009 at 11:16 PM

For those readers who post the comment that they won’t help a fresh start until all hell breaks loose, it never improves a bad situation to ignore what’s wrong and to abstain from making an improvement.

maverick muse on May 30, 2009 at 11:20 PM

Ann here’s a little insight for you: prison/jail is not supposed to be a nice place. It’s supposed to be somewhere you never want to go back to again. Prisoners should never be mollycoddled.

“Jails” hold two kinds of prisoners:

1) Those who have been convicted of misdemeanors or low-grade felonies, for which the term of incarceration is short enough that the state prison system is considered overkill. (In many states, the maximum sentence allowed in a county jail is a year.)

2) Those who have been arrested on suspicion of some crime, but have not yet been tried, and have not been released pending trial.

The people in the second group have the legal presumption of innocence, and do not therefore deserve to be “punished”. Please do not make any blanket statements about the propriety of making jail an unpleasant experience. Failure to distinguish between these two kinds of inmates means that I must assume you intend harsh conditions for those not yet convicted of anything, which makes a mockery of justice.

The Monster on May 30, 2009 at 11:25 PM

He skirts the edge of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Not a fan here.

AnninCA on May 30, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Here from the monster AKA Annin who thinks abortion is next to godliness. ANNIN fark off bitch.

CWforFreedom on May 31, 2009 at 12:28 AM

He skirts the edge of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Not a fan here.

AnninCA on May 30, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Ms. Abortion for everybody worries about this???

CWforFreedom on May 31, 2009 at 12:28 AM

Uncle Joe would be proud. Obama is not a friend of the America that I love. Not even close.

hillbillyjim on May 31, 2009 at 2:20 AM

Lets see, good is bad, and bad is bad. ok got it.

johnnyU on May 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Holder makes Janet Reno look honorable.

GunRunner on May 31, 2009 at 2:04 PM