Arpaio asks court to put brakes on racial-profiling case

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has asked an appeals court to put a racial profiling lawsuit against him on hold while the lawman tries to get a lower-court judge disqualified from the case.

The request, if granted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, would likely lead to a postponement of contempt-of-court hearings scheduled next month against Arpaio for his acknowledged violations of the judge's orders in the profiling case.

The sheriff has asked the appeals court to disqualify U.S. District Judge Murray Snow on the argument that the judge created the appearance of bias when he questioned Arpaio about two secret investigations involving the judge that were done on the sheriff's behalf.

Last month, Snow rejected a disqualification request made by the sheriff. Now the sheriff is asking the appeals court to disqualify Snow.

One investigation examined a claim that the judge's wife had allegedly told someone that Snow didn't want Arpaio to win re-election. The judge has said the other investigation was intended to show a conspiracy between Snow and federal authorities who pressed a separate civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio.

The sheriff insists there were no investigations of Snow. His lawyers say the sheriff had a duty to examine whether information provided by two investigative sources about the judge was true.

Contempt hearings that began in April are scheduled to resume on Sept. 22. The hearings could lead to fines, increased oversight of the agency and a possible criminal contempt hearing for the sheriff.

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