In October, 2007 Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies from the “Selected Enforcement Unit” arrested and jailed Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin, two journalists from the Village Voice Media. They were arrested at their homes. They were put in separate jails. The two men had written articles about Joe Arpaio and his handling of cases in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The Phoenix New Times where the two men worked made accusations about financial irregularities and misdeeds in the sheriff’s office. They reported on deaths in the jails, and attributed them to abuses that were taking place in them. The reports accused Arpaio of racial profiling and unauthorized detention of Latinos.
The journalists were arrested because of stories they had written on how Arpaio allies has issued grand jury subpoenas seeking information about writers, editors and even readers of the Phoenix New Times readers. They wanted browsing histories and IP addresses of people who read the published articles online. Lacey and Larkin refused to reply to subpoenas and instead published more articles revealing what was being asked for.
The two journalists were released from jail in less than 24 hours, and charges against them were dropped. The lawsuit against Maricopa County for the illegal detention, focused on the refusing of the journalists First Amendment rights and the abuse of power by Arpaio and associates.
In 2012, the Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit, claimed that the county was guilty of the charges of illegal detention and violating First Amendment rights of the journalists. The grand jury subpoenas had been improperly filed and were therefore illegal. The journalists had been arrested without due cause.
In 2013, Maricopa County settled the lawsuit by paying $3.7 million to Lacey and Larkin. The two used the settlement money to start the Frontera Fun. It is intended to benefit the Hispanic community in Arizona. The fund distributes money to nonprofit groups that advocate for civil rights and other causes of the Hispanic population. Lacey and Larkin are both supporters of immigrant rights and push efforts to help those you have crossed the borders in search of employment and a better life.