Arrested Over Free Speech

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department arrested both Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin on October 18, 2007. They were acting under orders from Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The two men worked for the Village Voice Media at the time of the arrest. They were taken from their homes and put into vehicles with darkened windows. These vehicles also had license plates from Mexico. Joe Arpaio ordered that they men be placed in separate jails and booked.


Arpaio has called himself the toughest sheriff in the country. He ordered the arrest of Larkin and Lacey because he was furious about stories that the two men had reported in the Phoenix New Times. The stories revealed the corrupt acts that Arpaio was taking part in as well as some of the conditions of the jails under Arpaio’s control. Most newspapers in Arizona ignored the claims from inmates and others who had a close connection to the sheriff. However, Larkin and Lacey wanted readers to know about the acts that he was committing, so they went ahead with the story. Some of the issues included financial irresponsibility and mismanagement of the entire sheriff’s office. Arpaio abused the power that he had. Conditions at the jails in Arizona were poor, to say the least, under his control. The sheriff also had strict guidelines in regards to arresting individuals and booking them into prisons as he would put certain criminals in certain prisons based on the conditions of the facility and the crime committed.


Larkin and Lacey were simply standing up for their right to free speech. The officers under Arpaio’s control were given grand jury subpoenas that requested details about the stories that were published. The subpoenas also requested any browsing histories of the two men. When the rest of the country found out what happened, Larkin and Lacey were released from jail. After the Ninth Circuit read over the subpoenas, they saw that they weren’t valid because the proper legal steps weren’t taken and dismissed the charges against Larkin and Lacey. After examining the facts in the case, an appellate court awarded the men a $3.7 million settlement. The money is now being used to support the Hispanic community so that they can have the same rights as everyday citizens.