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"Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution"
October 19, 2007 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Two executives of the alternative newspaper chain Village Voice Media were arrested last night after running a story about grand jury subpoenas [PDF] they received seeking reporters' notes and information on who visits their Phoenix New Times Web site. The article, titled "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution," claims that the grand jury investigation stems from a long-running feud with controversial county sheriff Joe Arpaio (who calls himself "America's toughest sheriff"). The subpoenas demand New Times turn over all notes, tapes and records of the reporters who have ever written about Arpaio. The subpoenas also seek online profiles of anyone who read four specific articles about Arpaio and profiles of anyone who visited the paper's Web site since Jan. 1, 2004. Also sought is information on what Web users did while on the site.
“Reports in the New-Times over more than a decade have detailed Arpaio's backroom dealings, his mistreatment of prisoners under his watch and his general scuminess. Prisoners at his county jail get only two meals a day, must wear pink underwear, and live in tents outside the jail where they work seven days a week in chain gangs, digging graves for the indigent.

An investigation by county prosecutors into the paper's reporting began when New-Times published Arpaio's home address on its website in 2004. A little-known Arizona statute dictates that it's legal to publish the home address of a law enforcement agent in print, or on the radio or television, just not on the Internet; when the print article was uploaded to the New-Times website, prosecutors pounced.”*
posted by ericb (58 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Joe Arpaio previously on MetaFilter.
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on October 19, 2007


I was wondering when this was going to show up here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:19 PM on October 19, 2007


Justice has been served... with a subpoena.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in D.C., has described the subpoena as 'frightening in its scope.' Even those reporters who may have bought Arpaio’s line of bull in the past must see what an abuse of power this is, and how it threatens the journalism being done by papers that dare to question public officials."*
posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2007


Do Joe Arpaio's flamboyant tactics work? Do they reduce (a) crime and (b) recidivism within his jurisdiction? I've heard the hype, but never a clear answer as to the results.
posted by Yakuman at 2:32 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I was wondering when this was going to show up here."

Snark? That's a taserin'!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:35 PM on October 19, 2007


I was wondering when this was going to show up here.

That has gotta be one of the shortest comments in Ethereal Bligh's posting history!
posted by ericb at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2007


Who is this fucking guy and why hasn't the ACLU sued his dick off?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2007 [10 favorites]


A bit off topic, but I was a bit surprised to look through the comments section on a story about the homeless / drug addicted types in SF on sfgate.com and see an enormous number of calls to ship them all off to this Joe Arpaio guy.
posted by MillMan at 3:03 PM on October 19, 2007


I was reading this elsewhere and the amount of rage it inspired - even in me - was quite impressive. I don't think I can even coherently describe or write about how angry this makes me - just the mere concept of it.

This is not the behavior of a democracy with freedom of the press. This is the behavior of a totalitarian regime.

My grandfather - and so many others who fought Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy or Imperial Japan just so this kind of shit wouldn't happen in this country - must be spinning in their graves so fast that they're invoking relativistic frame-dragging effects and severely warping space and time, itself.

This is the most specious of bullshit, and like many events in the last fear years, doesn't bode well for our collective freedom and future.

Do Joe Arpaio's flamboyant tactics work? Do they reduce (a) crime and (b) recidivism within his jurisdiction? I've heard the hype, but never a clear answer as to the results.

Having escaped from Phoenix not too long ago - no, they don't work.

Unless your main concern is keeping marijuana off the streets. Then, yeah, it works. By scaring otherwise law-abiding and peaceful citizens into driving to LA to buy weed.

But it hasn't done a thing for the meth problem there. Or the violence. Or gangs. Or drive-by shootings. Or robbery. Or homicides. A couple of years ago, Phoenix had someone that was randomly shooting people at bus stops for, as far as can be told, the fuck of it.

I feel safer in Oakland or LA than I did in Phoenix. Downtown Phoenix is a waste of ghettos and slums, broken liquor flasks and beer bottles, homeless crack and meth addicts, prostitutes and some of the most marginalized and criminalized people in all of the Southwest.

Hey, Joe Arpaio? So few have ever got it all so wrong, as you have. The concept of mercy and passion eludes you, as does justice itself. Your fear and loathing of life itself is obvious.

I waver on the edge of pity for the terrible life that is so plainly written on your face and in your beady little eyes.

You're one of a very small handful of people that makes me rethink my agnosticism and fervently pray that there is a hell. I hope you burn in it. I hope you have to confront all the lives you've ruined and the families you've wrecked, and I hope you wallow forever in the eternal torment, remorse and pain that this brings.

You, sir, are no Christian. Further, I'm not even sure if you're even human.
posted by loquacious at 3:03 PM on October 19, 2007 [40 favorites]


Do Joe Arpaio's flamboyant tactics work? Do they reduce (a) crime and (b) recidivism within his jurisdiction?

Cause that would make it all a-ok, huh.
posted by dreamsign at 3:04 PM on October 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


Posting a law officer's home address in your Arizona newspaper? Dick move, but legal.

Arresting newspaper publishers for putting that same information online in their archives? Dick move, but legal.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:04 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


UPDATE: County attorney drops charges
posted by phrayzee at 3:21 PM on October 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


Amnesty International on the treatment of inmates in Maricopa County jails.
posted by ericb at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2007


Regardless of what one might think of Arpaio's tactics and the ethics of publishing information that could put his life in danger, the reality is that the voters of Maricopa County keep re-electing him, mainly because no viable alternative (or alternative who can make as much noise) has yet arisen. The people who have voted, perhaps repeatedly, for this person share the blame. The representatives of New Times may figuratively die for the sins of others who hardly think they need salvation.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:27 PM on October 19, 2007


Posting a law officer's home address in your Arizona newspaper? Dick move, but legal.

Arresting newspaper publishers for putting that same information online in their archives? Dick move, but legal.


Wow. Apparently anything can be reduced to moral equivalence. Let me try:

Writing about torturing prisoners? Dick move, but legal.

Torturing prisoners? Dick move, but, if you redefine "torture," legal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:28 PM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Thomas also said he was dismissing special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, who had pursued the case on the county's behalf.

Nice, but not good enough. What about "Sherrif Joe", next?

I mean, seriously, why did Wilenchik attempt prosecution in the first place, if not at Arpaio's request or prodding? How is that even acceptable?

If anyone needs to lose their job and be forever banned from working in justice or law enforcement ever again it's Arpaio. The man doesn't even know what the word "justice" means. All he knows is petty revenge.
posted by loquacious at 3:29 PM on October 19, 2007


I'm still not clear on how Joe Arpaio has managed not to get tortured to death by a former inmate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:31 PM on October 19, 2007


"The publicity raised by the arrests [has brought] new national scrutiny and ridicule to Arpaio. Also under the national magnifying glass will be the special prosecutor [Dennis Wilenchik], whom New Times accuses of misconduct in a lawsuit."*

And -- from phrayzee's UPDATE:
"Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Friday afternoon that he was dismissing the case against New Times and that no charges would be pursued against the editors and writers involved in the case.

Thomas also said he was dismissing special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, who had pursued the case on the county's behalf.

Thomas said that mistakes were made, that the case had been grossly mishandled and that he was uncomfortable with where the case had gone.

He said he had only learned in the past day that a subpoena had been issued for Web site information from New Times."
Bullshit. Left-hand meet right-hand.
posted by ericb at 3:31 PM on October 19, 2007


Time to send in that granny with the hammer what busted up Comcast.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:32 PM on October 19, 2007 [7 favorites]


...perhaps we can start a grant program for it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:33 PM on October 19, 2007


...the ethics of publishing information that could put his life in danger

Slate journalist Jack Shafer:
"How difficult is it to find Arpaio's home address? It took me five minutes of Web plinking, and I didn't need New Times to find it."
I'm sure many a MeFi detective can come up with Joseph M. (Joe) Arpaio's (born June 14, 1932 | Phoenix | Maricopa County, AZ) home address "lickety-split" and with no help from law enforcement sources.
posted by ericb at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2007


I've been in a business meeting with Village Voice boss Mike Lacey, and I can tell you that he is a hard-nosed bastard. And as this case proves, sometimes being a bastard is a great thing.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:40 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


It would be awesome if that piece of shit ended up in his own jail wearing pink panties.
posted by 2sheets at 3:40 PM on October 19, 2007 [8 favorites]


Amazingly Phoenix does sound like I'd like it even less than LA.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Arpaio's address [is available] on other websites including those maintained by the County Recorder and the Elections Department."*
posted by ericb at 3:44 PM on October 19, 2007


I bet he has a wide stance.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:03 PM on October 19, 2007 [8 favorites]


It's interesting to read the early comments responding to another article about the dropped charges which was published in a Phoenix newspaper (East Valley Tribune) just a short while ago. They give some insight to the local politics, etc. It'll be interesting to follow that thread over the next few days.
"So now that Andy sees the public finally outraged at his gestapo tactics, he retreats and distances himself from his well-paid lackey. Nice try, Andy, but you gave this case to Wilenchik because you knew he'd employ these kinds of tactics. You are not off the hook."

"This abuse by Arpaio and his henchmen is disgusting and needs to be addressed. Where is Goddard looking into this? Where is the county board? Why people continually vote Arpaio in is just amazing."

"Now Thomas is running for cover. This will the beginning of the end of his career. This will NOT be forgotten and his challenger will be sure to bring it up."
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on October 19, 2007


just one more reason to love the new times (now village voice media) chain o' papers. i've been hooked ever since my first jesus of the week (r.i.p.) years ago.
posted by msconduct at 4:13 PM on October 19, 2007


Do Joe Arpaio's flamboyant tactics work? Do they reduce (a) crime and (b) recidivism within his jurisdiction?

I'm on my lunchbreak, so I don't have time to look up hard stats, but last time I heard, crime (of both the petty and serious variety) in the southwest and Phoenix in particular has actually risen in recent years.

Of course, I live in Texas, the state where a hundred widely publicized executions per year somehow doesn't deter people from comitting murder.
posted by Avenger at 4:19 PM on October 19, 2007


Wow. Apparently anything can be reduced to moral equivalence.

I don't like Joe Arpaio; I think that he should be removed from his position as Sheriff, and possibly prosecuted himself. Having said that, publishing his home address is beyond the pale. It endangers his life, and the fact that doing so is legal does not excuse it. People who do things that endanger others but are within the bounds of the law should not be at all surprised when they find themselves placed in cuffs the moment that they step (even accidentally) outside of the law.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:27 PM on October 19, 2007


It endangers his life.

Really? Seeing as his home address is widely available online, how do you figure?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:32 PM on October 19, 2007


"Having said that, publishing his home address is beyond the pale."

Isn't that the same reasoning that was used in the whole blow up over the pictures of Cheney's house a few years ago? Why is it that the hardest assed right wingers seem to be the most fragile and in need of protection? Bullshit.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:37 PM on October 19, 2007


UPDATE: County attorney drops charges

Did anyone else reading phrayzee's link think 'UPDATE: County realizes that this is a much bigger story than they thought it would be, and back-pedals frantically'?

I mean, from the bullying/ menacing angle, they've already made their point.
posted by quin at 4:40 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why is it that the hardest assed right wingers seem to be the most fragile and in need of protection?

Because at heart they're typical pussies when pushed into a corner. Typical bully-type m. o.
posted by bardic at 4:44 PM on October 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


Parasite Unseen: It endangers his life, and the fact that doing so is legal does not excuse it.

How about the fact that he's one of the worst human beings ever to walk the Earth? That slimeball is the only one who deserves to be in that concentration camp he calls a jail, and the only reason I stop at that point is because I, unlike him, am civilized.

Joe Arpaio - When you want anyone picked up to either pay bail or die of heatstroke, he's your man!
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:55 PM on October 19, 2007


Really? Seeing as his home address is widely available online, how do you figure?

Do you honestly not see the difference between someone's address being easily found online and having a newspaper article (or series of articles) about how someone is a piece of shit with their home address conveniently included?

I'm not saying that Arpaio is a good person; I want him out of office as much as the next guy. However, if he weren't a cop, I don't think that people would be defending the paper's move. If I read in a local newspaper the name of a murderer or rapist, I can probably do a little research and track that person down without too much difficulty. That does not, however, mean that it would somehow be ok for a newspaper to write a story about said murderer or rapist and then print his or her home address. It's an invitation to harrassment, if not out-and-out violence. Doing something of that nature is a declaration of war, whether it's legal or not. If you do something like that, and you use the legality of the act to defend yourself, you had better be fucking saintly about how you conduct your other legal affairs, because you will face retribution the very moment that you step one toe out of line.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 5:00 PM on October 19, 2007


It endangers his life.

Riiiight.

I've located his address via Google with nary an effort.

Furthermore:
"The paper isn't being dinged for publishing the sheriff's address in print -- that's not a crime.

'We could publish it on a billboard and that would be OK,' [Village Voice Media Chairman Jim] Larkin said."*
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on October 19, 2007


That does not, however, mean that it would somehow be ok for a newspaper to write a story about said murderer or rapist and then print his or her home address.

His address was published along with a number of other commercial and residential properties he owns, as part of an investigative article ("Sheriff Joe's Real Estate Game") regarding alleged "sweet" and "questionable" deals/investments made by Arpaio.

For context, I suggest reading the article. His home is one of a number of properties he owns -- some of which have had their records expunged.
"Arpaio got his records purged from the Maricopa County Recorder's Office. The redacted records include such key information as deeds, mortgages, affidavits of value and conveyances of title....And neither are the real estate records for his top deputy, the twice-bankrupt, double-dipping David Hendershott, paid a $131,189 salary plus another $51,000 in annual pension money (he retired from the sheriff's office and was rehired as chief deputy by Arpaio)."
posted by ericb at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wilenchik could lose his law license over the ex-parte communications.
posted by caddis at 5:16 PM on October 19, 2007


The original print article ("Sheriff Joe's Real Estate Game") was published and posted to the website on July 1, 2004. Three years ago!

If Arpaio was so concerned about his safety and the availability of his address online why did he wait "three years?" And how does he, his minions and lackeys account for the availablity of such personal info so easily online at city and state websites?
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on October 19, 2007


Context regarding the "address" being published.
"I discovered [Arpaio]'s got $690,000 in cold, hard cash invested in two small commercial properties in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills.

The total amount of cash slippery Joe has stashed into at least six other real estate investments may be much more than this. How much more, I don't know. That's because the 72-year-old has taken unusual steps to make sure the public can't find out the amount of cash he's stashed into Maricopa County real estate....All [real estate] records are normally available for public inspection. But not Arpaio's.

...this is a guy who is making $78,000 a year as sheriff along with his federal Drug Enforcement Agency civil service retirement pay of about $65,000. His wife operates a small travel agency, Star World Travel, that doesn't appear to be much of a cash cow.

[Read the article for a summary of the numerous Arpaio's real estate holdings the reporter was able to uncover on his own].

...it turns out, Joe has been dabbling in real estate in some of the most expensive parts of town. He's investing large amounts of cash, violating the cardinal rule of commercial real estate. And nearly all the records of his wheeling and dealing are conveniently sealed.

...How about sitting down and showing us all of your real estate records? Tax returns would be nice, too. While you're at it, bring [Chief Deputy David] Hendershott's records, as well.

Explain to us where you -- a retired federal civil servant and county employee -- come up with so much cold, hard cash.

Otherwise, even one of your lamebrained posse members might think you're hiding something."
Methinks the sheriff is hiding something and is doing everything to avoid the glaring questions at hand.
posted by ericb at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


regarding the Address issue: I can go you one better...

My hometown paper, the Omaha World Herald lists the full names and address of witnesses to crimes IN THE ARTICLE when they are interviewed.

If that's not fully batshit, then I dont know what is.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:40 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The special prosecutor fired this afternoon has a history of working with/for Sheriff Joe Arpaio:
Below the Belt -- Lawyer Dennis Wilenchik's spearheading Joe Arpaio's attempt to smear his chief political rival"
And I thought Boston politics was suspect!
posted by ericb at 5:41 PM on October 19, 2007



"Having said that, publishing his home address is beyond the pale."

I guess that's why it was appropriate for the hangman to wear a mask huh?

"The level of civilization in a society may be determined by entering its prisons." - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
posted by any major dude at 5:47 PM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


“How are these arrests even remotely legal?”

Well, aren't grand jury proceedings secret? There's legal penalties for violating that secrecy. I don't know how it works when it's something the grand jury does that is visible outside the grand jury, like serving a subpoena.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:35 PM on October 19, 2007


Well, aren't grand jury proceedings secret?

The obligation of secrecy does not extend to witnesses. The jurors, judge, attorneys, court reporters, and other officials are sworn to secrecy though. Here is the rule that governs it, at least for federal grand juries. Was this a federal or state grand jury? If it was a state grand jury it might be different, but I doubt it.
posted by caddis at 8:48 PM on October 19, 2007


"Because at heart they're typical pussies when pushed into a corner. Typical bully-type m. o."

bardic That's ridiculous. He's a sheriff, he's probably got decent protection. The simple fact of the matter is he's a high profile law enforcement agent and most people who are high profile don't want to be harassed by things like people mailing them fresh turds.

"I've located his address via Google with nary an effort."
*mails Arpaio a fresh turd*

...what?
posted by Smedleyman at 9:37 PM on October 19, 2007


Do you honestly not see the difference between someone's address being easily found online and having a newspaper article (or series of articles) about how someone is a piece of shit with their home address conveniently included?

Sincerely, no I do not. Are you arguing that someone is going to be so inflamed by the online stories that they will attack the man, and possibly kill him, but, if they had to spend a few minutes online searching for his address, they would calm down to a reasonable state and no longer want to hurt him? Because I find that very hard to believe.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:48 PM on October 19, 2007


Which agency would have jurisdiction for investigating county sheriffs' misconduct and corruption?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:05 PM on October 19, 2007


Do Joe Arpaio's flamboyant tactics work? Do they reduce (a) crime and (b) recidivism within his jurisdiction?

I have no love for Arpaio, but his crack down on DUI offenders seems to have put the fear in the hearts of a lot of the young bar & club hoppers. At least that has been my observation. Sheriff Joe seems pretty keen on giving rich white DUI offenders has harsh of time in tent city as any other offender. I won't fool myself into thinking he's doling out truly equal treatment--but I hear a constant chorus of "I was treated like a real criminal!" complaints from people I've known who served a night in jail for a DUI.
posted by mullacc at 10:15 PM on October 19, 2007


Parasite Unseen, I understand what you mean.


Are you arguing that someone is going to be so inflamed by the online stories that they will attack the man, and possibly kill him, but, if they had to spend a few minutes online searching for his address...

LOL, Astro Zombie obviously doesn't!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:46 AM on October 20, 2007


If the good sheriff is like any other high-ranking law enforcement officer in a large city, he already has (at least) a marked squad outside his house 24-7. Where their personal safety is concerned, they tend not to rely on security by obscurity.
posted by klarck at 6:19 AM on October 20, 2007


"I've located his address via Google with nary an effort."
*mails Arpaio a fresh turd*


Get this guy to send Joe a hot, steaming loaf.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:42 AM on October 20, 2007


Amid uproar, county attorney drops charges against 'New Times'
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on October 20, 2007


(oops--phrayzee beat me to it--sorry)
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on October 20, 2007


"[Maricopa County Attorney Andrew] Thomas['s] dismiss[al of] all charges....came just hours after the State Bar Association confirmed that it had received multiple complaints and had launched an internal investigation into Thomas and special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik for their actions in the New Times case and an unrelated one....But Wilenchik and Thomas are now the subjects of legal and ethical complaints with the State Bar of Arizona....The Bar has also launched its own internal investigation into a campaign that Thomas and Wilenchik launched against Maricopa Superior Court judges, which led to an unprecedented request that all 93 judges in Maricopa County be replaced by judges from other counties.

Wilenchik and Thomas contend judges are mishandling cases involving illegal immigrants and accused the court's assistant presiding criminal judge, Timothy Ryan, of bias.

Thomas' motions to dismiss Ryan and other judges were denied.

Bar complaints have also been filed against Wilenchik in the New Times case, alleging that he violated ethical rules by enlisting a political operative to broker a private and inappropriate meeting with Superior Court presiding Judge Anna Baca, who has oversight of the grand jury."*
posted by ericb at 2:37 PM on October 20, 2007


Explain to us where you -- a retired federal civil servant and county employee -- come up with so much cold, hard cash.

You know, these days the IRS just loves to make "examples" of name-players just to show everyone how even-handed they are.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:43 PM on October 20, 2007


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