Sheriff Joe Arpaio has stepped up his brazen campaign to target the local judiciary.
Deputies of the Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff went to the homes of assistants to several Superior Court judges, to try to interview them about what Sheriff Joe has asserted — with little evidence — is corruption on the part of their bosses, reports the Phoenix New Times.
“It was pure intimidation,” one judge told the paper, which suggests Arpaio intended for the assistants to tell their bosses — the judges — about the visits, as a way to intimidate the judges.
It doesn’t sound like Arpaio’s crew got much information. The judges’ assistants asked them to make appointments at their offices if they wanted to talk.
This wasn’t the first time the deputies tried this tactic recently. Over the weekend, they visited the homes of several county employees.
Arpaio is seeking information on what he claims is a bribery and conflict-of-interest scheme involving the building of a local court tower — a project that many county officials support, but which Arpaio opposes, some say because it would take county resources away from his own office.
Last week, Arpaio upped the ante on the issue by announcing criminal charges against a respected judge, Gary Donahoe, who had made rulings on the court tower issue that Arpaio disliked. Arpaio and his ally, County Prosecutor Andrew Thomas, alleged that Donahoe and county officials were involved in a bribery scheme in connection to the court tower, but offered no evidence for that claim.
In separate Arpaio news, his office just announced that it will force the county’s 8,000 inmates to listen to Christmas music during the holiday season — despite the fact that Arpaio has been sued six times over the issue in the last two years.