Thursday, July 29, 2010

Respect rule of law. Prosecute Sheriff Joe.

18 U.S.C. § 242:
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

(from Cornell's Legal Information Institute.)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his goons deputies are supposedly going to conduct yet another sweep today. These inevitably end in civil rights violations, of which the case of Julian and Julio Mora is about the best-known. They inevitably depend on civil rights violations--arrests without probable cause--to operate.

This from this morning's ACLU-AZ e-mail:
In mid-June, a teenaged Latina girl was driving home. Near the entrance to her gated community, she was pulled over by a police officer for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. When asked to produce identification, she showed the officer her valid Arizona driver's license. The officer said the driver's license was not enough and stated "he was required by law to ask for further documentation as proof of citizenship." The girl, a high school senior, is a US citizen and speaks perfect English without an accent. Although the girl knew that SB 1070 hadn't yet gone into effect, she was so frightened and confused by his request that she agreed to have the officer follow her to her home (around the corner), where she went in and got her US Passport for him to review. The officer left without issuing a warning or ticket. Because she was extremely nervous, the girl was unable to write down his name or badge number. The student was (and still is) shaken by the incident. It's the example of someone being humiliated and treated like a criminal solely because of the color of her skin.

There we have it again: No probable cause, not even reasonable suspicion.

It needs to stop, and (successful) civil suit after (successful) civil suit has not stopped it. Joe Arpaio and any deputy who so much as violates one person's protected civil liberties and any of these sweeps must be prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 242.

Sheriff Joe "fans" might recall that last year former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias remarked that if it were up to him, he'd seek an indictment of Joe Arpaio over civil liberties violations committed in the course of harassing his enemies, including the ACLU-AZ's Dan Pochoda, Maricopa County Manager David Smith, and Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon. U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke still hasn't developed the guts or the integrity to do what needs to be done. Now that Arizona immigration policy has the White House's attention, it's time for Eric Holder to put his foot down. I'm not expecting it to happen, but it's the sensible thing to do.

For what it's worth, my "pop sociology" conjecture--no, I can't cite any literature!--has Sheriff Joe's popularity dropping after he makes the perp walk on camera. The sort of people who support him are the sort who'd support Putin or Mussolini and perhaps the sort who support Barack Obama in his giving of extralegal orders to BP or his wiping out of GM shareholders. They're the Authoritarian Personality Disorder types who'd support any strongman just because he is a strongman. A bit of humiliation of the strongman will fix that. U.S. Marshalls at his Fountain Hills home will be best.

Clarification: I am not advocating 18 U.S.C. § 242 prosecution due to the actions in the specific incident mentioned in the ACLU morning e-mail; it would appear to be a very weak case. I am advocating prosecution for any "winning" incident of deprivation of rights under color of law and most certainly for any documented violations today or in the future.

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