PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The public is now getting a better idea of the amount of money it has cost taxpayers in Maricopa County to defend Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his racial profiling case. That price tag isn't a final tally; it's expected to get bigger.
There is lots of finger pointing going on as far as who is at fault when it comes to the cost of the almost decade-long court battle. Arpaio's camp says they're being forced to hire additional attorneys while the ACLU says taxpayers should blame the Sheriff, adding if he hadn't violated people's rights this would never have happened.
"The fact is the Sheriff is not paying for these lawsuits, the Sheriff is not paying for these settlements, it's the taxpayers of Maricopa County," said Steve Gallardo.
In the nearly 8-year-old case of the ALCU vs. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, taxpayers have shelled out $8.2 million for outside attorneys. It's only a slice of the estimated $50 million dollar price tag that Maricopa County is expected to pay by next September.
"It's coming right out of the pockets of our general fund, we could be using this money for roads, we could be using it for flood control, we could be using it for animal control, we could be using this for the homeless population," said Gallardo.
After several years in court, the case cost began to grow thanks to a revolving roster of lawyers and an additional contempt of court case against Arpaio.
"This phase is to try and prove that it was intentional, that he really did know, or should have known, and nevertheless intentionally violated the orders, and so that's a criminal offense, that's criminal contempt," said Scott Halverson.
With each side blaming the other for a swelling budget, Halverson says the exorbitant price tag won't be the only thing this case is remembered for.
"This is just such a case, it does not happen very often, and I think it's certainly possibly that looking back on this that it may be something that may end up in the textbooks for law students to study in law school, as a case study of this interplay, this tension between federal and state and local ranks," said Halverson.
Now Federal Law allows the winners of civil rights cases to seek compensation for legal fees. So if Arpaio loses the contempt of court case, he could be the one paying.