PHOENIX -- The legal fight between the Department of Justice and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is back on.
The DOJ notified the Sheriff in December about alleged civil rights violations by his office. Since then, the Justice Department and the Sheriff’s office have been trying to work out a settlement to address the charges. Both sides are saying negotiations have broken down.
On Tuesday, DOJ sent a letter to the Sheriff and his attorneys saying an agreement to a court-appointed monitor was a non-negotiable issue. The Justice Department says the independent monitor would oversee the department’s reforms. The letter says the matter was discussed several times during earlier negotiations and the Sheriff’s representatives had agreed to it.
Arpaio’s attorney, Joseph Popolizio, disputes that.
"That is not true," Popolizio said. "There was never an agreement with regard to a monitor. Never."
As a result of the breakdown, the next scheduled meeting has been called off. The DOJ says the Sheriff is wasting time and not negotiating in good faith.
Arpaio says he wants to negotiate, but he’s not giving up his authority. He says he’s willing to take his chances in court.
"It’s up to them," Arpaio said. "I’m not suing anybody, I don’t sue anybody, they sue me."
The DOJ letter says the sheriff’s action will force a court fight.