Arpaio wants to bar victim testimony at his contempt trial

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PHOENIX (AP) -

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to bar Latinos who were illegally detained in his signature immigration patrols from testifying at his upcoming trial on a criminal contempt-of-court charge.

Lawyers for Arpaio said in a court filing Friday that allowing such victim testimony at his April 25 trial would prejudice their client and be irrelevant in determining whether he committed a crime.

The retired lawman faces the misdemeanor charge for defying a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case that prohibited his immigration patrols. Rank-and-file officers weren't told about the court order, leaving them to violate the order for about 17 months.

Arpaio has acknowledged prolonging his immigration patrols, but he insists his defiance wasn't intentional. The 84-year-old, if convicted, could face up to six months in jail.

[READ MORE: Arpaio officially charged with criminal contempt]

Prolonging the patrols fueled an increase in taxpayer-funded legal costs in the profiling case and is believed to have contributed to the Republican lawman's election loss in November to Democrat Paul Penzone after 24 years in office.

A federal judge who presides over the profiling case has ordered the creation of county-funded system for compensating Latinos who were detained in violation of an immigration-patrol order. The lawyers who pressed the profiling case have said at least 190 people were detained in violation of the order.

Arpaio attorney Mel McDonald told another federal judge who will decide Arpaio's criminal case that the purpose of testimony from both victims is to "inflame the court's sense of passion."

Arpaio's lawyers in the criminal case also are seeking to bar the trial testimony of attorney Tim Casey, who represented the lawman in the profiling lawsuit for nearly six years before withdrawing from the case in November 2014.

Casey, who was forced to testify at Arpaio's 2015 civil contempt hearing, has said that he informed the sheriff of the immigration-patrol order the day it was issued and confronted him later when he discovered his client was in violation of the order.

The criminal defense lawyers say their client hasn't waived the attorney-client privilege between Casey and Arpaio.

Casey also is seeking to block a subpoena for him to testify in the criminal case, saying the testimony sought by prosecutors is protected by attorney-client privilege.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/jacques%20billeaud.

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