On October 18, 2007, Joe Arpaio’s “Selective Enforcement Unit” illegally arrested Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin from the Phoenix area homes. On that evening Armed deputies from Arpaio’s Maricopa County sheriff’s department arrested the two Phoenix Times writers were forced into dark unmarked SUV’S with Mexican license plates. The Larkin and Lacey were separated and booked into to different jails both under the supervision of Joe Arpaio.
Joe Arpaio has a reputation for running his sheriff’s offices’ operations in an unethical way as he personally deemed himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff”. His corrupt practices had been covered in multiple Phoenix Times articles. In those articles, Arpaio’s unfavorable behaviors were exposed such as excessive abuse of power, mismanagement, poor health conditions within Arpaio’s jail, deaths of jail inmates, and Arpaio’s racial profiling and illegal arrest and detainment of Latinos. The articles on the disorder of his sheriff’s office enraged Arpaio and would lead to him ordering the arrest of Lacey and Larkin.
A cover story in the Phoenix Times which revealed how Arpaio illegally issued grand jury subpoenas in order to receive details about the newspaper’s writers, editors, and readers(including readers personal browsing history and IP addresses). Lacey and Larkin refused to submit to Arpaio’s illegal orders and wrote about the situation instead.
After a disfavorable response to the arrest across the nation, Lacey and Larkin were released from jail within 24 hours along with all their charges being dropped.
As a result of the incident, a lengthy court battle based on Lacey and Larkin’s violated First Amendment rights and Joe Arpaio’s abuse of power. The Ninth Circuit’s conclusion was that the subpoenas ordered by Arpaio were illegal and unconstitutional and bypassed all the steps needed for the subpoenas to be put in to place. The court’s judgment determined that Lacey and Larkin’s arrest unlawful and was done so by Arpaio as an Abuse of power given to the position he’s in as the arrest had no probable cause.
The court’s awarded the two writers a settlement of $3.7 million. After the court battle, Lacey and Larkin wanted to help others who deal with the same discrimination and violation of rights that they did involving their illegal arrest. As a result of that, the two started the Lacey and Larkin Frontera fund. The group’s wanted help the Hispanic community in Arizona that have to deal with civil rights violations in their day to day lives. Ever since the program has started the group has funded many nonprofit groups that fight for Hispanic civil rights.