Civil Disobedience: 'Village Voice' Media Execs Arrested

A long-running feud between the Phoenix New Times and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio landed two executives from Village Voice Media, the free paper's owner, in jail on Thursday. Michael Lacey, an executive editor at the Times, and Jim Larkin, Village Voice Media CEO, were arrested and jailed on misdemeanor charges by the sheriff's department after the paper published details of an ongoing grand jury investigation.

The two men co-authored a story revealing that Village Voice Media executives and employees, as well as the names of visitors to its Web sites, have been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor investigating the newspaper's reporting on Sheriff Arpaio several years ago. Arpaio alleges the paper violated the law by publishing his home address on its Web site as part of a series of critical articles about his real-estate deals.

On being released from jail, Lacey recalled the earlier series of articles in an interview with a Sun Times reporter: "Our question during the election cycle was: How is it that a guy [Sheriff Arpai] who's making $72,000 a year has nearly a million dollars in cash to invest in these parcels?"

The story revealing the grand jury proceedings, titled "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution," was published Thursday on the Phoenix New Times' Web site. Larkin and Lacey prefaced the article about the grand jury subpoenas with this caveat: "It is, we fear, the authorities' belief that what you are about to read here is against the law to publish. But there are moments when civil disobedience is merely the last option."

They went on to note that Sheriff Arpaio had subpoenaed "every note, tape, and record from every story written about Sheriff Arpaio by every reporter over a period of years," as well as "detailed information on anyone who has looked at the New Times Web site since 2004." This information includes the names of the visitors, the types of browser used, and the dates they visited.

Writer Stephen Lemon and reporters John Dougherty and Paul Rubin also received personal subpoenas.

Next story loading loading..