Joe Arpaio's criminal contempt trial starts next week. What's at stake for the former sheriff?

The trial that could put Joe Arpaio in jail for disobeying a judge's order to stop enforcing federal immigration laws is set to begin.

A lot has changed since Joe Arpaio was charged eight months ago with criminal contempt of court.

The 85-year-old Arpaio will show up for his trial next Monday as the former sheriff of Maricopa County, after voters tossed him out of office last November.

He'll have a new legal team that's been trying every maneuver to keep Arpaio out of jail.

Arpaio is paying his own legal bills as he fights charges that he intentionally ignored Federal Judge Murray Snow's orders to stop enforcing federal immigration laws.

If convicted, he could get up to 6 months in jail. Legal experts say jail time for the octogenarian would be unlikely.

READ: Another $26 million in taxpayer dollars is going to Arpaio's racial profiling lawsuit

Arpaio's lawyers have been very active behind the scenes.

The tone was set when new Arpaio attorney Mark Goldman asked for a trial delay because his son's Bar Mitzvah would prevent him from getting up to speed on the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court has just a few days to decide whether to grant Arpaio's request for a jury trial. Lower courts have rejected the request.

"Joe Arpaio believes that he is popular enough in Maricopa County that ... the jury panel would be more likely to vote in his favor and find him innocent," said Chandler attorney Thomas Ryan, who isn't connected to the case.

Arpaio would need just one juror to side with him to beat the charge.

Meantime, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has yet to respond to Arpaio's subpoena to testify on the former sheriff's behalf.

"There are so many  problems with the idea of subpoenaing a sitting attorney general to testify against his own attorneys," Ryan said.

It was attorneys in Sessions' Justice Department who filed the charges against Arpaio before Sessions took office in February.

An Arpaio attorney said Sessions was being summoned to explain law enforcement's role in federal immigration law.

Federal Judge Susan Bolton, who's presiding at the bench trial, is intimately familiar with the subject.

She heard arguments in the lawsuit challenging Arizona's SB 1070, at the time the toughest crackdown in the country on illegal immigration.

The trial is scheduled to run all of next week and into the following Fourth of July week.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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