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Arizona Judge Tells Sheriff "Reveal Password Or Face Contempt" 624

An anonymous reader writes "Four days ago, deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona conducted a raid against the county government building hosting computers for a law enforcement database. After threatening to arrest county employees who would stop them, the officers proceeded to secure the room and promptly changed passwords on many of the servers. In a hearing on Friday, a Superior Court judge threatened to hold members of the Sheriff's Office in contempt if they did not reveal the passwords by next Wednesday. Following this, the Sheriff's Office claimed to be conducting an investigation against other Superior Court judges. Courts have asked for passwords before, but never under conditions like this."
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Arizona Judge Tells Sheriff "Reveal Password Or Face Contempt"

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  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:40PM (#29078729)

    Summary doesn't make it clear that the Sheriff in question is Joe Arpaio, a sadistic, authoritarian monster that that believes in making prison as demeaning and painful affair as possible no matter what the offense. He's a sick, twisted psychopath that needs to be stopped at all cost.

    • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:43PM (#29078747)

      Sorry, forgot link: []

      There's a reason this asshole has such a critical website over him. I firmly believe he's a sociopath.

      • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:48PM (#29078783)

        I firmly believe he's a sociopath.

        All he does is treat criminals as if they are sub-human and their dignity is his personal property. Besides, there seems to be an approximate consensus among the Maricopa anglo population people convicted of a crime aren't human beings, so clearly it's not sociopathic.


      • by mordors9 ( 665662 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:55PM (#29078831)
        He is also extremely popular with his constituents, who fully support the way he operates his office. The US Justice Department now has him as a target (since the Obama Administration came to power) due to his enforcement of Immigration laws. In Arizona he polls 11 points higher than Obama so he is popular statewide.
    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:49PM (#29078791) Journal
      I don't know how Arizona is, but if it's anything like here in California, Sheriff is an elected office, and the easiest way to stop him is to vote him out. Thus I would suspect that a large portion of his constituency actually agrees with his policies. It's hard to go against the majority in a democracy: bad majorities have created ugly things such as slavery in the past.
      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:58PM (#29078859)

        It is a Constitutional Federal Republic. This means that there are various check on the majority. 50.0001% of people can't vote to oppress the other 49.9999%. Things like constitutional law can only be changed by a very lengthy process (66% of both congressional bodies, 75% of all states have to approve it).

        So while the majority may agree with what he's doing, or at least the parts of what he's doing they are aware of, that doesn't make it right, or legal. He has, on many occasions, been sued successfully for various rights violations.

        It is something that needs to be fought, not something that people should just say "Well the majority elected him. Doesn't matter that they did, he is still accountable to the law. That's how the system is setup.

        • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:11PM (#29078959) Journal
          Your words are true, but in your attempt to find the precise point where the majority is big enough to push a minority around, you have missed my point. He was elected, and he's been there a while. Thus, while it may be possible to get rid of him in particular, or file numerous lawsuits, in all likelihood someone else will be voted in who is similar or worse, because the populace WANTS that.

          If you want to change the country, the simplest way to do so is to change what the populace wants.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moryath ( 553296 )

          Every sheriff's office and police department in the US has, at one point or another, been successfully sued for "rights violations" at some point. Making a blanket statement like that means nothing.

          Arpaio is also very clear on making prison as UN-palatable an option as possible to criminals. If you subscribe to the theory that some portion of the population considers the possible consequences of their actions (in other words, is a rational actor []), then this should result in reduced initial crime rates from

      • by Deanalator ( 806515 ) <> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @10:17PM (#29080271) Homepage

        According to his wikipedia page[1] it looks like he consistently gets reelected by double digit margins. It also looks like a group attempted to circulate a petition to have him recalled, and about 3/4ths of those that were asked refused to sign, with 65% expressing support for his behavior. At this point in a democracy, if you are really opposed to what is happening, your best option is to move.

        1. []

    • by StormyMonday ( 163372 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @08:45PM (#29079843) Homepage

      Note -- not prison, jail.

      The people in his jail are waiting trial or serving time for misdemeanors. Hardly the civilization- devouring monsters of Sheriff Joe's imagination.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:41PM (#29078735)

    The correct article is here [].

    Amazing this is happening in the United States

  • Arpaio (Score:5, Informative)

    by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer@a l u m . m> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:42PM (#29078745) Homepage

    This raid looks pretty outrageous. The court is probably the least politicized and most appropriate agency to take control until the situation can be resolved. The silver lining to this is that it is so outrageous that it may finally get that madman Arpaio removed from office.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jamstar7 ( 694492 )

      This raid looks pretty outrageous. The court is probably the least politicized and most appropriate agency to take control until the situation can be resolved. The silver lining to this is that it is so outrageous that it may finally get that madman Arpaio removed from office.

      Don't count on that. Ol' Joe's survived many attempts to remove him from office.

      What I'm wondering is, will Hendershott be sentenced to one of Joe's tent cities, or will they give him one of the many vacant air conditioned cells in

    • Re:Arpaio (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ring-eldest ( 866342 ) <> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:56PM (#29079229)
      Here in Memphis the feds (under that notorious civil liberties champion John Ashcroft) took control of our jails after reported civil rights violations. The federal government is the appropriate agency to step in by means of the USDOJ, and should likewise step in on behalf of the people incarcerated under that maniac's supervision. It would disgust me if we treated prisoners of war the way that "law man" has been treating his charges.

      Dostoyevsky said that any society can be judged by the way it treats its prisoners. I sure as hell don't want this man standing as a representative of our civilization.
  • bad move (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:45PM (#29078765) Journal

    The actions of the sheriff's office demonstrate quite clearly that they are not willing to abide by the law and therefore seem to have decided the case already against themselves.

  • by 7Ghent ( 115876 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:52PM (#29078811) Homepage

    Don't they have an IT guy who can root those? Sounds like they have physical access, should be pretty easy.

  • Physical Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by destuxor ( 874523 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:52PM (#29078813)

    Rule #3 of the 10 Immutable Laws of Security []: if a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it's not your computer anymore.

    Story should serve as a good reminder to everyone out there that in the end, no amount of encryption, biometrics, or obscurity will protect your network when a hacker brings a gun. Physical security trumps all.

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:01PM (#29078877) Homepage

    But it also is a server and e-mail platform for several county agencies, including the Sheriff's and County Attorney's offices and the Superior Court.

    That explains why the sheriffs department wanted them, they didn't want incriminating evidence coming out. But if we walk away from our servers, they're not going to be able to get into them. If they demanded admin passwords, I would have demanded a warrant. Arrest or not, that's a fight you can have later. If they arrested you for doing your job, then sue them later. Oddly, in this case you'd have the backing of the rest of the county board and the Superior Court. Seizing our computers wouldn't get them anything. I feel good about that but what happened in this case?

    If they're Windows servers it shouldn't be too hard to crack them, right? I haven't used Windows servers since Server 2003, you could crack those. Is it much harder now? Especially when you have access to the hardware.

  • by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:05PM (#29078911)

    ...and the Sheriff's Office has been a joke for almost all of them. Sheriff Joe's predecessor utterly botched an investigation into a high-profile mass murder at a local Buddhist Temple, so voters here were looking for change at any price.

    I'm pro-law and order, but law and order means, well, law AND order, not Sheriff Joe's thuggery. He's cost the county millions in unnecessary lawsuits for brutality in his jails, his law enforcement tactics exist solely to grab headlines and intimidate his opponents and he's ruined inter-agency cooperation in Central Arizona for at least the near future.

    The sooner we elect someone else, the better off we'll be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:17PM (#29078993)

    Disclaimer - I work as the IT manager for a major university police department.

    Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) Security Policy - the governing policy from the Department of Justice for managing criminal justice systems. The policy is law enforcement sensitive and not public.

    The Sheriffs office is arguing that that the law requires this server, which has NCIC (National Crime Information Center) access, to only be managed by a criminal justice agency. There are entire previsions in CJIS that allow for delegation of CJIS management to noncriminal justice agencies including municipal governments and contractors. The only provision states that responsibility for management of security and network control remains with the criminal justice agency - meaning the blame for not following the CJIS security policy lies with the law enforcement agency.

    Unless Arizona has different laws regarding NCIC access this looks like a power grab to me...

  • Coverup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:29PM (#29079055)

    This just screams coverup.

    Sherrif Joe is afraid of the information on those servers ... why? It would be nice to know, wouldn't it? Streisand Effect, anyone?

    The county should turn it all over to the FBI for forensic investigation after this. I don't care who you are, unauthorized access to a computer system is a felony in most states and a federal offense, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mog007 ( 677810 )

      Given Joe's history, I'm very interested in what's on those servers. This is a guy who thinks ANY press is good press. Even when he had to pay 30-something percent of an 800k judgement due to abuse out of his own pocket. The guy's got corruption all over the place, and he's still in office.

  • but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:36PM (#29079103)

    Sheriff Joe is an old man, can't they just check the post it note under the keyboard? Boom, Problem Solved.

  • FWIW (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tyler_larson ( 558763 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @07:04PM (#29079269) Homepage
    Sheriff Joe has been in an ever-escalating power-war with the rest of the government in the various cities, counties, and state of Arizona. In the past few weeks, the plot has slightly thickened as there has recently been some evidence of, and outcry regarding, misconduct on the part of the Sheriff's office in regards to personal use of state funds. I won't bore you with the details, but the reaction of the Sheriff's office hasn't been one that, shall we say, increases public safety.

    I can't even imagine why the Sheriff's office would want to seize the records relating to law enforcement within the state, but I'm sure he has a Very Good Reason.

  • by dotmax ( 642602 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @08:17PM (#29079717)
    If this happens to YOU in the future, pull the fire alarm or dump the UPS or whatever magic button your data center has to shut down the works. My computer center has a (five actually) Big Red Button to crash the whole system. Might have been a reasonable and prudent action in this instance.
  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @09:09PM (#29079963) Homepage Journal
    ... he'd get to spend 60 days in his own jail.
  • Arizona Fascism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GarretSidzaka ( 1417217 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @11:32PM (#29080607)

    Joe arpaio has gang of sherrifs who go down into the barrio and round up any "mexican-looking" persons, detain them, and try to deport them. this is done simply by checking the color of their skin.

    i have spent a nite in arpaio's jail (wrongfully arrested) and eating the substandard "ladmo" bags with green bologna.

    i have seen lives crushed and destroyed. i have heard journalists who were kidnapped from their homes at 4 am by men driving a car with sonora license plates. This was because they uncovered joe's illegal real estate investments

    arpaio is a murderer, a torturer, rascist, and a fascist. he should be in PRISON

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken