Larkin and Lacey admit that their publication, New Times, was a thorn in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s side. He had already banned their reporters from his press conferences and threatened to have them arrested. However, when the publication released an article detailing how the Sheriff was concealing commercial real estate, the Sheriff took drastic legal action.
He claimed that the article made his name and personal home address available online and that according to the Arizona law, this was a felony. So for the next 3 years, he would work to have the investigative reporter who wrote article prosecuted. And on the day of court, Lacey published an article which questioned the constitutionality of what was happening as well as the lawfulness of the subpoena.
Arpaio wasn’t happy with this and had the two arrested for revealing grand jury secrets–namely the contents of the subpoena. However, Larkin and Lacey would not be in jail for long. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://james-larkin.com/ and http://james-larkin.com/press/
Their story was picked up by several publications and the story went mainstream. In no time, the Maricopa County Sheriff had to close the case and release the CEO and executive editor. They were also awarded a 3.75 million settlement for their improper arrest.
They eventually used the settlement to start the Lacey and Larkin Frontera fund. They gave grants to organizations throughout Arizona that worked towards migrant-rights. They also now have a website that discussed the First Amendment right and free speech.
This was not the first time that the Sheriff deprived citizens of their rights. In fact, Arpaio had a long history of abusing his inmates. Whether he was denying them their medications, forcing them to wear pink underwear, making women give birth while chained to their beds or feeding them rotten fruit, the conditions he created were dire.
Perhaps one of the most notable of Arpaio’s scandals involved racial profiling. In Melendres v. Arpaio, the Sheriff was accused of having his deputized citizen posse round up Latinos so that he could determine whether or not they had American citizenship. These actions resulted in a class action suit which led to a $70 million settlement in favor of the Maricopa County citizens.
But even still, he would not serve time for his actions. Instead, the judge would order him to make reforms to his process. And when he did not, he was found in contempt of court and scheduled to face at least 6 months of prison time. However, he would never serve any time for this as Donald Trump would inevitable pardon him.
According to Larkin and Lacey, Arpaio is a brilliant politician–admittedly the only thing that they can respect about him. He used his support of Trump to leverage a pardon.
The two journalists also suspect that Trump granted the pardon to Arpaio so that he could appeal to the voters who were in support of Arpaio. However, perhaps these are the types of things that they hoped to uncover when their careers first start, working on their small University of Arizona paper.