On the evening of October 18, 2007, the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, Joe Arpaio instigated the arrest of Michael Lacey and Jim Frontera. The Maricopa County sheriff who ran the highly feared “Selective Enforcement Unit” sent deputies to Phoenix areas to arrest the two. Mike and Jim, who are the executives at the Village Voice Media, were forced in black SUVs which had tinted windows and Mexican number plates. The two were later locked up in separate jails which were under the management of Joe.
Cause of the Outrageous Arrest
Through Phoenix News Time newspaper, Mike and Jim had exposed the misdeeds carried out by the sheriff. Among the things reported by the newspaper include the way the sheriff mismanaged his office by punishing any critics of abuse of power of the sheriff office. They also noted the poor conditions of Arpaio jails and the mistreatments and deaths of those held in those jails. It also noted his habit of patriarchal role in encouraging the anti-Mexican fear-peddling and political posturing throughout Arizona. Many Latinos faced unconstitutional detention and racial profiling under the sheriff’s prosecution system. Joe felt offended by those reports and hence leading the arrests.
After the arrest, Joe’s allies at the Maricopa County Attorney’s office unconstitutionally created jury subpoenas that were supposed to collect all details regarding the editors of the newspaper. This included taking IP addresses and all details of the newspaper writers and editors. Instead of feeling threatened by the subpoena, Mike and Jim went ahead to write about it with the aim of further exposing the level of corruption within the system.
The arrest resulted in a national public outcry which resulted in the release of Jim and Mike after spending 24 hours in jail. Consequently, all their charges were dropped immediately. This, however, resulted in a long court battle as the two news editors sought justice after their illegal detention. In 2012, the jury subpoenas that served on Lacey and Larkin were named invalid by the Ninth Circuit since the prosecutor had not followed the required legal procedures. The court, therefore, ruled that Lacey and Larkin were arrested illegally.
$3.7 million Settlement
Jim and Mike received a settlement of $3.7 million which they used to create Frontera Fund. This is a unique initiative that takes the responsibility of protecting the Hispanic Community against civil rights abuse and racial discrimination. Mike and Jim distributed the funds received from the settlement to small nonprofit groups that fight for the rights of the Hispanic Community.