Sheriff Joe Arpaio reacted to the continued onslaught by local journalists and Village Voice Media executives on his corrupt and oppressive activities with vehemence and malice. The county law enforcer directed his most abrasive and physically intimidating deputies to raid their homes and violently apprehend and arrest Lacey and Larkin. The deputies made the arrest in suspicious demeanor as they came armed and did not use official vehicles to fetch the two newspaper columnists from their homes. Instead, they came with tinted SUVs that had tinted windows and Mexican license plates. The two were also not taken to the same jails despite getting arrested at the same time for the same reason.
The errant sheriff, America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff, had earlier on issued grand jury subpoenas to the journalists, and activists, to provide critically private information about their sources for articles they had published about his abuse of office. The sheriff sought to identify all the persons who had provided evidence against him, those that had read the incriminating articles, and their personal IP addresses. The two journalists were well aware that such requests were illegal and in contravention of the constitution of the people of the United States. They therefore failed to oblige to the unlawful demands and chose to expose the demands as well.
The legacy of the Arpaio was already in question when Lacey and Larkin exposed him for;
- Always making retaliatory arrests against his critics,
- Making financial misappropriations of Maricopa County funds,
- Racially profiling and detain Hispanics,
- Maintaining county jails at substandard health conditions,
- And inflicting and causing wrongful and avoidable deaths and suffering jail inmates under his custody
Therefore, when the families and friends of the two journalists publicized their wrongful arrest, a very overwhelming public uproar was heard in less than twenty four hours. Joe Arpaio had to release the two to avoid investigation and public prosecution. All the charges that the sheriff’s office had pinned on the two were also dropped. Notwithstanding, the two journalists decided to sue the county for wrongful imprisonment and suffering. The lawsuit dragged through several junior courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor. It found the subpoenas served to the two journalists to be in contravention of the first amendment. The judge also ruled that the subpoenas were not processed in the right way and that the prosecutor had broken the law in drafting it. The two were awarded 3.7 million dollars in damages. The Maripa County administration was held liable and charged to pay.
Lacey and Larkin resolved to give back to the Arizona community for airing a voice to their aid. They committed the 3.7 to the Frontera Fund, which funds endeavors directed towards protecting Hispanics and Mexican migrants from abuse and discrimination.