The Illegal Arrest of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin

Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested and handcuffed on the evening of October 18, 2007, by arpaio, a sheriff at Maricopa County. The two human rights activists were forcibly evicted from Arizona and shoved into Mexican license plates and unmarked SUVs. Later on, they were detained in separate jails managed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.


Phoenix New Times, a newspaper that exposed these misdeeds has already outraged Sheriff Joe Arpaio popularly known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” The journal reported on Arpaio’s role in promoting political posturing and anti-Mexican fear-mongering in Arizona. In fact, as mainstream newspapers dismissed Arpaio’s misdeeds, Phoenix New Times reported on rampant financial mismanagement and irregularities in his office, unconstitutional detention and racial profiling of Latinos in Arpaio’s jails, mistreatment of prisoners, and substandard health conditions.


Lacey and Larkin were arrested for publishing a story in Phoenix New Times revealing how Arpaio’s allies at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office assaulted the Constitution by issuing an order seeking details about the newspaper’s writers and editors IP address and browsing history. Instead of disregarding subpoenas, Larkin and Lacey wrote about it. When asked why they were arrested, Larkin and Lacey didn’t hesitate to tell their jail mates it was because of “Writing.” Following a loud national outcry, the duo was released from prison in less than 24 hours with all their charges dropped.


The Duo Arraigned to the Court


The illegal detention of the two Village Voice Media executives paved the way for lawsuit centered on the abuse of human rights. In 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that the issued jury subpoenas were invalid because the prosecutor had circumvented required legal procedures. In this case, the court ruled out that Lacey and Larkin were detained without probable cause. The ruling paved the way for Maricopa County to compensate Lacey and Larkin a $3.7 million settlement for illegal detention.


Consequently, Larkin and Lacey donated their settlement money to Frontera Fund, an initiative intended to benefit Latinos who have borne the brunt of civil rights abuses and racial discrimination in Arizona. Born in Arizona, Larkin learned the importance of giving back to less fortunate members of the society way back as a teenager. As such, Larkin looks forward to empowering and inspiring Mexican immigrants who have braved unimaginable perils as they travel to Arizona in pursuit of economic opportunity and well-paying jobs.