Larkin and Lacey vs Sheriff Arpaio
While sitting in his jail cell in the evening of October 18, asked by his jail inmate why he was there, Michael Lacey pointed out that he was arrested for writing. The long running feud culminated with the arrest of the CEO and of the executive editor of Phoenix New Times. Read more: Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Make The List of Civil Rights Protectors | Philly Purge and Lacey and Larkin Speak Out on Trump Pardon of Arpaio | Phoenix New Times
Over the years, Jim Larking and Michael Lacey penned many articles about the Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Arpaio, labeled himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, and was under constant fire from the Village Voice Media who were making effort to draw attention to what they considered irregularities in his department.
Larkin and Lacey published reports about unconstitutional detentions of members of the Hispanic community, which pointed out Arapio’s racial profiling, as well as reports of the substandard conditions in his jails, of mistreatment of inmates, and the abuse of power against his critics.
In July 2004, Phoenix New Times published an article about Joe Arpaio’s real estate dealings. In the context of the article his home address was made public, which attracted the attention of Maricopa County’s Attorney, who investigated the possibility of the illegality of such an occurrence. His office considered it a possible crime under the law of Arizona.
Village Voice Media were served with a subpoena by a special prosecutor, and were required to hand over all documents they had that were related to the original article about Apraio’s real estate dealings.
Additionally, they were asked to produced all the information regarding the website’s traffic on some articles that mentioned Sheriff Arpaio, and all IP addresses of the people that visited the website since the beginning of the year.
In an act of defiance and of ‘civil disobedience’, Larkin and Lacey refused to comply, and on October 18, 2007 they made public the contents of the subpoena, which resulted in their arrest the same day.
The charges were dropped in less than 24 hours and they were quickly released after a public scandal. Other online news outlets published links to places where Arpaio’s home address was available, as an act of solidarity with the two journalists.
After their release, a lawsuit ensued, which resulted in Larkin and Lacey being granted a settlement of $3.7 million, paid by Maricopa County. The lawsuit had First Amendment rights as its focus, as well as aspects of abuse of power.
The court ruled in favor of the two, after it was made clear that they were arrested without a probable cause, The Ninth Circus mentioning that the subpoenas that Lacey and Larking got served with were in fact invalid. The money from the settlement were used to created the Frontera Fund initiative, which fights on behalf of the Hispanic community.