PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Closing arguments took place Thursday in the criminal trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is charged with misdemeanor Contempt of Court for allegedly defying a judge's 2011 order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
If convicted, Arpaio could be looking at up to six months behind bars, as well as a fine.It is unlikely, however, Arpaio would actually do time.
Federal prosecutors who argued the case against Arpaio left the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Phoenix Thursday. They pulled cart full of legal papers, and didn't respond to requests for comment. Inside the courtroom, however, prosecutors reportedly told the judge that Arpaio allegedly blew off a court order back in 2011 to stop picking up suspected illegal immigrants, and handing them over to ICE and the Border Patrol, when there were no state charges against them.
Prosecutors claimed Arpaio did it because he was running for re-election in 2012, and that Arpaio allegedly used his defiance to raise millions of dollars, and then bragging about it to the news media.
Arpaio's attorneys, however, said he didn't intend to break the law, so he cannot be convicted.
"We only had to demonstrate he is not guilty, but we proved he is innocent," said defense attorney Mark Goldman.
"We didn't have the burden, but we took on the burden, and we actually took all their witnesses and made them into our witnesses," said defense attorney Dennis Wilenchik.
Attorneys blamed Arpaio's underlings for not giving him good legal advice. Arpaio might have been negligent, he might have been incompetent, but he didn't disobey the Federal judge on purpose. Hence, the attorneys claim he's not guilty.
Arpaio, 85, likes his chances.
"I am always optimistic," said Arpaio. "I've got good lawyers."
The judge may make a decision on the case, in a few weeks.