The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Contempt of Court

No, I am not going to have a legal discussion here.  But currently a judge is preparing to rule whether Joe Arpaio committed civil or criminal contempt of court when he (admittedly) ignored the judge's order on stopping his immigrant sweeps (and other issues).

Here is the practical difference for you and me:  If convicted of civil contempt, we the taxpayer ultimately bear the punishment (in all past Arpaio losses of this sort, the County taxpayers picked up the bill for any fines and awards).  If convicted of criminal contempt, Sheriff Joe might actually, for the first time ever, have to pay the price for his own lawlessness.

Postscript:  Just so you can get a flavor of how Arpaio conducts his immigrant sweeps, here is an example:

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Mesa landscaping company early Wednesday morning, arresting nearly three dozen people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The raid on offices of Artistic Land Management, on Main Street just west of Dobson Road, happened about 4:30 a.m., according to one worker who was handcuffed and detained before being released when he produced documentation that he was in the country legally....

Juarez estimated about 35 workers were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while deputies checked for documents. Those who could provide proof they were in the country legally were released, while others were put on buses and taken away.

People think I am exaggerating when I say this, but he literally goes into a business and zip ties everyone with brown skin, releasing them only if some family member can rush over and provide proof of citizenship.

  • Dave Boz

    "he literally goes into a business and zip ties everyone with brown skin..."
    Well, that's pretty much what Arpaio voters want. And pretty much the limit of Joe's skills - he goes after landscapers and dishwashers because that's the kind of criminal he's able to handle.
    Thankfully, there are actual professional law enforcement agencies in the cities, so Arpaio's clownshow doesn't leave all of us at the mercy of the real bad guys.

  • herdgadfly

    It seems to me that the Sheriff is doing nothing uncommon because the Obama administration lawyers routinely admit to lying in court. US District Judge Andrew Hanen was lied to after he issued an injunction to stop Obama’s sweeping immigration “executive action." DOJ lawyers assured the judge that no action had begun to cease deportations or to begin the issuing of work permits to non-citizens - but it turned out that 100K illegals had already been processed.

    Funny how these federal actions are seemingly unremarkable with those who would permit illegals to trespass and to violate our laws - but anti-illegals have no such leeway. I would prefer that the rule of law that prevails would include the violation of written statutes already on the books.

    Sheriffs everywhere are required to enforce public safety and that, my dear Host, would include arresting unidentified persons who cannot prove citizenship. Judges interfering with law enforcement should be tried by their peers.

  • herdgadfly

    Perhaps Mr. Boz would have LEOs enforce no laws except for say, perpetrators of murder and rape - you know, the really bad guys. But what would Arpaio then do about murderers and rapists with brown skin?

    After all, spanish-speakers are all good guys because they have brown skin. And being a non-citizen is never a reason for an arrest. America was great because the great majority of our citizens obeyed our laws - and those who live in hiding are now ripping us apart.

  • Dave Boz

    "Perhaps Mr. Boz would have LEOs enforce no laws except for say, perpetrators of murder and rape" I consider those high-priority crimes, yes, and I believe most law enforcement offices, other than the Sheriff's department, do a reasonable job investigating them. The more professional LEOs have fewer resources devoted to the crimes of dishwashing and gardening.

    "But what would Arpaio then do about murderers and rapists with brown skin?" Probably the same thing he does now with murderers and rapists of any skin color. Nothing. His resources are deployed in other pursuits.

    "After all, spanish-speakers are all good guys because they have brown skin." What an odd comment. You're the first person I've ever heard say such a thing.

    "And being a non-citizen is never a reason for an arrest." Yes, that is pretty much true. There is no statute that says "being a non-citizen" is a crime (it would devastate our tourist industry if there were).

  • skhpcola

    Probably the same thing he does now with murderers and rapists of any skin color. Nothing.

    Hyperbole much? Do you have a link for your contention that murderers and rapists skitter around with impunity because the sheriff has a vendetta against illegal immigrants?

    There is no statute that says "being a non-citizen" is a crime (it would devastate our tourist industry if there were).

    Nonsense. There are many codified laws about immigration. Many. No matter how badly you leftists desire that not to be the case, it doesn't alter reality. Additionally, tourists don't just show up and get to run around the country. They have to go through immigration and customs. If they don't have passports or visas, they can't enter the country...and it is like that in every foreign nation. Have you ever even traveled outside of the US?

  • mx

    And there are also laws and court decisions that say that police in the US are not allowed to suspect that you are here illegally solely because of the color of your skin, ziptie you, and then only release you if you can find someone to rush over and produce your papers.

  • skhpcola

    Is that what he's doing? Did he get anonymous tips about illegal immigrants? People had to call for help from other people that held their legal papers? Warren is claiming all of that, although he doesn't provide evidence that is what actually happened.

    There actually is a law that requires anybody in the US that is not a citizen to maintain and carry on their person proof of being in the country legally. Just as you can be arrested and taken to jail for not having a driver's license, these people can be treated the same. You folks that want unlimited immigration and view foreigners as people deprived of US citizenship because of "an accident of being born elsewhere" are pretty absurd when you advocate for this topic.

  • mx

    But there's no law that requires a citizen to carry proof of citizenship. Millions of people are both US citizens and hispanic.

    Nowhere did I say I want unlimited immigration. I simply want the Constitution and civil rights laws followed by the Maricopa County Sheriff.

  • skhpcola

    Yeah, you don't want immigration laws enforced, but you don't want unlimited immigration, either. Your logic is inconsistent. The prior leads directly to the latter, and you know it, and Warren knows it. Every leftist knows it. That's why it's the argument that Demuhcrats use in their facile advocacy of unlimited immigration.

  • Incunabulum

    Are you seriously saying that all people in the US should be required to carry citizenship papers at all times - presentable on demand to the 'authorities?

  • mx

    "arresting unidentified persons who cannot prove citizenship" would cover hundreds of millions of people who are breaking no laws. What does proving citizenship mean? To prove citizenship (legal eligibility to work in the US anyway) to a new employer, I have to provide a passport or ID + birth certificate or ID + Social Security card. I don't carry those documents around with me and no law says I have to. Surely, by your definition, I should be locked up until I can somehow manage to prove my citizenship.

    And as for your comment about "judges interfering with law enforcement," I'll add that interfering with law enforcement is basically the purpose of the judiciary. Laws could be enforced so much more efficiently if we didn't bother with judges and evidence and laws and trials and all that good stuff. Without judges who uphold the application of a common set of laws that apply to all, you'd merely have "enforcement." We've seen how well that works out.

  • Jim Collins

    Every time that I have changed jobs, I have had to provide proof that I was able to be legally employed in the US. Every employer that I have had, has made copies of the documents that I have provided and has filled out a Federal form concerning this. These people were detained at their place of employment, where are the Employer's records that these people provide proof? Seems to me that this should be able to be cleared up in a few minutes.

  • bigmaq1980

    Seems to me that this could be a form of "lawfare".

    After all, how does Arapino get his lead to which places to raid? From business competitors?

  • roadgeek

    I'm not seeing the problem with what he's doing. He's profiling, which cops since the Roman Legions have done. The feds won't enforce immigration laws. Who does that leave?

  • David in Michigan

    The devil is always in the details isn't it. Of course you are correct. That's why there were very few details provided in the story ....... those little details changed everything. Our blog host doesn't like to reveal why the place was raided nor how many of those detained were in fact illegal nor what happened to the owner of the business. Details, smetails. Who needs them when we can jump right to the conclusion we want.

  • http://vikingvista.blogspot.com/ vikingvista

    A decent man who is sheriff would be relieved to know that his legal duties don't require him persecuting peaceful workers.

  • roadgeek

    Please answer my question: whom does that leave? Given the number of times he's been re-elected, are you saying that you are right and the voters of Maricopa County are wrong in their judgment of the sheriff? Do we only enforce the laws that are convenient? The make us feel righteous?

  • http://vikingvista.blogspot.com/ vikingvista

    "whom does that leave?"

    Whom does that leave to harass people? Hopefully nobody. Why do you think people must be harassed?

    "Given the number of times he's been re-elected, are you saying that you are right and the voters of Maricopa County are wrong in their judgment of the sheriff?"

    I'm saying it is wrong to harass people, and it is particularly gratuitously malicious to harass people when it isn't even supposed to be your job.

    "Do we only enforce the laws that are convenient?"

    "We?" *I* don't enforce the legislative dictates (assuming that is what you mean by "laws", since we as individuals actually do enforce real laws) of anyone. And if I were in government enforcement, I hope I wouldn't go around persecuting people just because some sleazebag vote-selling popularity-contest-winning toad told me to.

    "The make us feel righteous?"

    Does unthinking obedience to the dictates of politicians make us feel righteous? What is righteousness if not the acting on one's own judgment?

  • Mercury

    " If convicted of criminal contempt, Sheriff Joe might actually, for the first time ever, have to pay the price for his own lawlessness"
    -----------------------------------------
    What kind of contempt is it when the federal government refuses to enforce the law? What price can they be expected to pay as a result? What price do we pay as a result?

  • ColoComment

    Warren does his argument no favor by linking to that particular news story as an example of Sheriff Arpaio's "criminal" conduct.

    If you click through the links in Warren's post, you'll find that his "example" of the Sheriff's high-handed conduct is from a 2008 AZ Central news story. If you read the story (and I confess that I did not look for any follow up), you'll see that the Sheriff executed his raid on this landscaping company on the basis of a warrant obtained per a lead from a former employee who claimed that the company employed illegal immigrants (or undocumented workers, or whatever the current pc nomenclature might be.)

    Now, you may argue whether the former employee, the Sheriff, or whoever else was acting in good faith, but remember that employing illegal immigrants is against Arizona law (which, btw, has been upheld by SCOTUS, so don't complain about that particular item.) If the Sheriff has been informed that a company is acting in violation of Arizona law, and a judge issues a warrant on that basis, should the Sheriff not execute on the warrant? Is it up to him to decide which laws to enforce, and which not? I don't think so.

    Warren disappoints here. He can do better.

  • skhpcola

    The sect of Libertarians that frequent this blog believes that borders are immoral and artificial constructs of oppression. By a simple accident of not being born in the US, these pitiful illegals are just trying to make their lot in life better, and they'll make our nation better too! Because shut up, you white, privileged, arrogant American! The bullshit on unlimited immigration by Libertarian leftists is nonsensical, but it is regularly-recurring theme here at Coyote Blog.

  • markm

    Arpaio is not arresting people for being non-citizens. He is arresting them for looking like they _might_ be non-citizens. People whose ancestors became citizens on the day Texas or the lands between Texas and the Pacific were annexed by the USA look just like people who crossed the border yesterday. If Arpaio can violate those citizen's rights because of how they look, any cop can violate _your_ rights if he doesn't like your looks.