The Justice Department has abandoned efforts to resolve a civil rights complaint against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying “it is best to let a court” decide if an independent monitor should be appointed over the sheriff’s Maricopa County office.
According to The Arizona Republic
, Deputy U.S. Attorney Roy Austin wrote to Arpaio’s lead lawyer that attempts to settle the government’s three-year investigation into charges the sheriff’s office discriminates against Latinos have failed.
“At this point, it is best to let a court determine the appropriateness of appointing an independent monitor as well as imposing other relief in order to address constitutional and federal statutory violations,” Austin wrote to attorney Joe Popolizio.
The government released the findings of its investigation last December, with a threat of further legal action if Arpaio’s lawyers did not settle the case.
But the talks have been stymied because each side blames the other for delaying or canceling meetings on the 128-page proposed settlement, which is built around the installment of an independent monitor over the sheriff’s department.
Arpaio has repeatedly charged that the federal investigation is part of a larger political vendetta against him by local activists and the Obama administration.
He pointed to an Arizona Supreme Court decision earlier this week as evidence of a broader conspiracy aimed at forcing him out of office and placing his department “under receivership.”
The court decision, which was cited in Austin’s letter, ordered the disbarment of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, a close Arpaio ally, for taking unethical, and possibly criminal, actions against political opponents.
The court disciplinary panel did not level any direct charges at Arpaio, but strongly suggested that he and Thomas had conspired together to bring fraudulent racketeering cases against a sitting judge and other political enemies.
“You can see the connection here,” Arpaio told the newspaper.
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