Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is seeking a last-minute delay of his criminal-contempt trial as he awaits a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether he'll get a jury trial.
That decision, Arpaio's attorneys argue, could result in the charges being dropped.
The bench trial is scheduled to start Monday in Phoenix before Federal Judge Susan Bolton.
In a court filing Tuesday, Arpaio's attorneys say the Supreme Court might not issue a decision on their request until Monday.
The lawyers go on to make the more sweeping claim that if a jury trial is ordered, the charges against Arpaio would have to be dropped.
The federal statute providing for a jury trial includes a statute of limitations that would bar the filing of criminal contempt charges, according to the filing.
"The statute of limitations has run out (in the jury trial statute)," Arpaio's attorneys say. "As a result, if Arpaio is successful in the United States Supreme Court, then the trial in the District Court will need to be vacated."
The Supreme Court docket shows the justices are scheduled to discuss Arpaio's petition at their conference Thursday.
That discussion has been on the docket for at least a week.
Arpaio is fighting charges that he intentionally ignored Federal Judge Murray Snow's orders to stop enforcing federal immigration laws. The charges stemmed from Arpaio's long-running racial-profiling case before Snow.
If convicted, Arpaio could get up to 6 months in jail. Legal experts say jail time for the 85-year-old former sheriff would be unlikely.
Arpaio was tossed out of office in last November's elections after serving for 24 years.
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