Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
If you ever wondered why the Justice Department is investigating the office of Maricopa, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, this latest story may be all you need to read. Recently, the Maricopa Sheriff’s office arrested and detained Briseira Torres and alleged that she was an illegal alien. Why is this one arrest such an important story? The short answer is that Sheriff Joe’s office and possibly the Prosecuting attorney ignored the most credible exculpatory evidence that was already in their possession. Briseira’s long form Birth Certificate, attested to by the State of Arizona as accurate, was left out of the record provided to the Grand Jury!
“In the pile of paperwork they provided to the court, to the prosecutor, and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a silver bullet: a sworn statement from Arizona’s Office of Vital Records attesting to the legitimacy of documents on file for Torres. Among these docs is Torres’ birth certificate, showing she was born August 14, 1981, in Avondale. Salvatierra asked the court to remand the case back to the grand jury. Judge Carolyn Passamonte did just this, noting in her minute entry that Torres’ long-form birth certificate was “clearly exculpatory evidence that should have been presented to the grand jury.” The judge remarked that the documents on file with Vital Records had been “available to the state,” and in oral arguments, the prosecutor had to admit that he’d never bothered to pull the file and inspect it.
More troubling still was Passamonte’s observation that the MCAO’s lone witness, Detective Chris Oberly of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, told the grand jury this: In 1999, Vital Records discovered that Torres’ birth certificate, in his words, had been “falsely created” by Torres’ mother and so the department “canceled it.” This was not true, according to Vital Records. Torres’ birth certificate never was canceled and remains as valid as the day it was issued. ” Crooks and Liars
Detective Oberly may have a serious criminal problem staring him in the face due to his false statements to the Grand Jury. Of course, this is Maricopa County, Arizona and Sheriff Joe may not agree that lying to a Grand Jury by one of his detectives is a criminal act.
What really upsets me is the action or inaction of the Prosecutor who failed to even look at the file that would prove that Ms. Torres was indeed a legal citizen of the United States and the State of Arizona. The alleged perjury by a detective in the Sheriff’s office and the negligence of the Prosecutor resulted in Ms. Torres being locked up for 4 1/2 months! Because of these illegal and immoral acts by Maricopa County officials, Ms. Torres lost her home and her car since she was unable to work and make her payments during her illegal incarceration.
Sheriff Arpaio is currently under investigation by the Justice Department for alleged numerous violations of the constitutional rights of Latinos. Think Progress Sheriff Arpaio is also currently fighting a recent class action lawsuit alleging that his office was involved in racial profiling. Sheriff Joe With these investigations and lawsuits, one may think that there may be trouble in his office. Sheriff Joe, the former Arizona chair during Gov. Romney’s 2008 run for President, is also a died in the wool backer of the far right Birther movement. Birther Will Sheriff Arpaio believe any State’s birth records if he won’t believe his own State’s records certifying a valid long form birth certificate?
I am surprised that the residents of Maricopa County are not upset at the legal costs of defending their Sheriff’s allegedly illegal activities. This time the illegal actions of his office have cost a legal citizen dearly and presumably will cost the citizens of Maricopa county dearly. When will this far right bigot be forced out of office? Is anyone in Arizona listening? Stay tuned.