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Contempt hearings in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's racial profiling case set for September


PHOENIX — Contempt-of-court hearings against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for acknowledged violations of a judge's orders in his racial profiling case will move forward this fall.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow requested Friday that attorneys for Arpaio and those pressing the suit clear dates in late September through early November.

He also ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to retrieve an additional hard drive from the sheriff's office and make a copy of it. Independent monitors for the judge said they wanted an original drive that was the source of some content that was already turned over.

Last week, Snow leveled an angry rebuke toward the sheriff's lawyers for failing to turn over documents that had been requested months ago. His criticism centered on the agency's failure to hand over more than 1,400 identification documents in a related investigation into allegations that deputies pocketed items during busts. The judge also focused on the agency's refusal to turn over 50 hard drives from Arpaio's secret investigation involving the judge.

Snow dealt Arpaio one of his toughest legal defeats in 2013 when he concluded deputies had racially profiled Latinos. Snow has said Arpaio's investigation of him was intended to show an alleged conspiracy between the judge and federal authorities who are pressing a separate civil rights lawsuit against the sheriff.

Arpaio, who has been accused of retaliating against his critics, insists there were no investigations of Snow.

Earlier this year, Arpaio acknowledged a contempt-of-court violation for failing to hand over traffic-stop recordings that had been requested before the 2012 trial.

Five years ago, the sheriff's office acknowledged that its officers had deleted emails on the sheriff's immigration patrols and destroyed records of traffic stops.

Arpaio initially failed — but was eventually forced — to turn over his own personal immigration file that included letters from supporters who sought crackdowns on day laborers.

The contempt-of-court hearings could lead to fines, increased oversight of the agency and a possible criminal contempt hearing.

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