The Arpaio Pardon and the Judiciary

Last summer, I tweeted about my experience clerking in the District of Arizona for the racial profiling trial of Joe Arpaio. That led to some news coverage and an op-ed in the Washington Post. It's nice to get recognition, but now that Arpaio has announced a senate run the stakes are quite serious.

Arpaio's career and the Arpaio pardon are among the most awful examples of where law enforcement has failed in this country. We rely on law enforcement, in this country, to carry out laws made by others. At his most fundamental, what Joe Arpaio did was decide what he thought the law ought to be, and then enforced that law. When it was shown in court that he was wrong (in front of a judge who, as I noted, was no liberal) and he was ordered to comply with the law as written, he simply refused. Arpaio represents a law enforcement officer who directed his officers to track, stop, arrest, and jail people who had not committed any crime. People that the officers knew had not committed any crime.

I have received criticism for my novel The Big Fear from those who seem angry that I paint an unflattering picture of the police. If you are looking for books in which hero cops always get the bad guy and are celebrated even when they bend the rules a little, I suppose you won't like mine. But given we are living in a world that can produce a Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and which threatens to produce a senator Arpaio, I can't imagine writing them any other way.