In the Melendres v. Arpaio class-action suit, the citizens of Maricopa county sought retribution. The County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, had ordered Latinos to be round up so that he could determine the state of their U.S. citizenship. But was this the first time there had been injustice executed at the hands of Arpaio? Far from it.
In the course of his 24-year appointment as the Sherriff of Maricopa County, Arpaio had racked up a long laundry list of unconstitutional practices. And quite often, the Pheonix New Times would publish them. The publication would expose his practices of deputizing and arming citizens so that he could from his own plain clothes posse.
It discussed the heinous physical, mental and sexual abuse that took place in the jail. And it also blew the whistle on the slew of wrongful deaths that occurred under Arpaio’s watch. But even still, the Sheriff’s reign persisted. And anyone who attempted to stop or discredit him was treated to a smear campaign.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin know this all too well. They were the co-owners of Village Voice Media and the Pheonix New Times was one of its 17 publications. The New Times reporters were often banned from press conferences and threatened with arrests. But even still the publication insisted on uncovering the Sheriff’s misdeed. However, one article would put the publication and its owners front row center of Arpaio’s targeting.
John Dougherty, an investigative reporter for the New Times felt that the County needed to know that their Sheriff, who reportedly made $78,000, per year was concealing $700,000 in commercial property.
This information was ground-breaking and hinted that the Sheriff was misappropriating jail funds. The Sheriff was outraged. Not only had they prodded into his business affairs, but the reporter had also published his personal address online. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Micheal Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/relevant-links/
The Sheriff then went on a 3-year journey to have the reporter prosecuted, for an action that he found to be a felony. A law officer’s name and address had been published online and it put his safety in danger.
However, Larkin and Lacey were far from remorseful. In fact, on the day of the trial, they wrote an article which detailed the contents of the subpoena as well as how unconstitutional this treatment was. Arpaio responded to the article by having the two arresting, stating that the article had revealed grand jury secrets.
When the news became public knowledge, major publications such as the New York Times and USA Today picked it up. And the public outcry couldn’t have been more dramatic. They wanted the two men freed. And with that, the County attorney closed the case and Larkin and Lacey were given $3.75 million settlements. Read more:
Arpaio never served a day in jail. Even in the case of Melendres v. Arpaio, the citizens of Maricopa county received a settlement of $70 million settlement, but Arpaio would only be charged with contempt of court. However, he was later pardoned by Donald Trump–someone who lobbied for during his talks of presidential candidacy.
Larkin and Lacey no longer own Village Voice Media. They sold it, and it now goes by the name Voice Media. However, they do own a website, Front Page Confidential, which focuses on free speech. Also, they used their settlement to start a fund for migrant-rights organizations throughout Arizona.