Several Superior Court judges have sued Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpao.
Arpaio is infamous for his unorthodox treatment of prisoners, among them rapper DMX. He has often been accused of abusing his power, drawing the ire of Amnesty International, the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, among others. In October 2010, a court ruled that Arpaio would be required to cease severe overcrowding in cells, ensure that all detainees receive necessary medical and mental care, be given access to the medications prescribed to them, be given access to exercise and to sinks, toilet paper and soap, and be served food that meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines.
In light of this, it is perhaps not surprising that two judges (totalling four since February), have come forward to make claims of defamation, in addition to a deputy county manager and county administrator’s added complaints. According to courthousenews.com, the complainants all allege Arpaio targeted them for baseless criminal investigations in retaliation for the judges’ court rulings and the county employees work on budget cuts.
The plaintiffs claim that Arpaio’s actions “constitute the rankest misuse of power against those innocent and powerless citizens that our system of government is supposed to protect.”
Each complaint claims that Arpaio acted with his chief deputy and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas to retaliate for the officials’ actions taken in the course of their official duties. He has been accused of going so far as to tapping phones and seizing computers to dig up dirt on the complainants.
Arpaio has attained a celebrity status of sorts for his tactics, which include making prisoners wear pink. He has also been accused of seeking out media attention, particularly in offering his opinion on his most well-known prisoner, DMX.
More on this story as it develops.