Yesterday seven plaintiffs won a settlement of almost $500,000 against our local sheriff, Joe Arpaio, for violating our clients' Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the right to petition their government. Six were cuffed, jailed and brought to trial. At trial, all charges were dismissed, all defendants acquitted. One judge said the county attorney and sheriff's deputy "should be ashamed." We won civil damages for violation of their civil rights.
It's challenging to act professionally restrained and "dignified" when I feel such elation. Participating in this defense against injustice was hugely satisfying. A victory is rewarding to those innocent citizens who were unjustly harassed and even jailed.
Yet here in Maricopa County, a majority of voters think this sheriff is just terrific because he's "tough on crime" and does "sweeps" against "illegal aliens."
To my mind, your opinion on illegal immigration is irrelevant. What matters is that this public official has abused many citizens because of their political views. He has a cruel streak and boasts of pink underwear, green bologne, and "tent city" at 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, this is treatment of pre-trial detainees who have not yet been convicted and of persons convicted of minor offenses with under one year sentence. The hard-core felons are not treated so badly.
Harsh, cruel treatment does not rehabilitate.
If just one person comes to understand that violation of a citizen's basic Constitutional rights should not be tolerated, regardless of your views on immigration, maybe I've helped us become a healthier body politic.