Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: Defenders of the Marginalized in Arizona

On the night of October 18, 2007, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were taken from their homes Maricopa County deputies.

The two were handcuffed, placed in an unmarked vehicle and were transported to different jails. It later emerged that the arrest had been orchestrated by the county’s Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. This incident would forever change the lives of the two journalists.

Due to the nature of their profession as journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin had come to expect interactions with police from time to time. This time, however, it was apparent to the two that their arrest was informed by malice and did not have any legal merit.

A few days earlier, the two had published an article in the Phoenix News Times that showed illegalities committed by the county’s Sheriff and the office of the attorney general.

Fortunately, the two were released soon after questions started being raised by members of the public. Angered by the 24-hour incident, Lacey and Larkin decided to sue the county and the sheriff for the violation of their First Amendment rights.

In 2012, the court ruled in their favor. The presiding judge found that the subpoenas issued by Maricopa county’s office of the attorney general and enforced by the Sheriff were unconstitutional, thus making their arrest illegal.

Following the ruling, Lacey and Larkin received a substantial settlement of $3.7 million that they then used to create the Frontera Fund. The two decided to form the foundation with the primary goal of helping members of the Hispanic community, who endured injustices such as those committed on Lacey and Larkin by the county on a regular basis. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427818/Michael_Lacey

Lacey and Larkin are committed to making Arizona a more tolerant place through their Frontera Fund. Towards this end, the fund has collaborated with a number of like-minded organizations, including the ACLU of Arizona and the Arizona Justice Project.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Arizona has existed for a lot longer than the Frontera Fund. The organization has for the last five decades helped shape regulations and policies that are constitutional and humane. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia

In fact, the organization has also previously brought charges against Sheriff Arpaio for the mistreatment of Hispanic residents at the hands of his department. The ACLU of Arizona worn the case and set an important precedent that it is unconstitutional to police immigration under the country’s current laws.

The Arizona Justice Project provides legal services to inmates in Arizona that may feel wronged by the justice system. Unfortunately, while the justice system in America is one of the most advanced in the world, there are a few instances where innocent are wrongfully criminalized.

The Arizona Justice Project provides assistance to such prisoners through its wide network of pro-bono lawyers. Currently, the project is working on up to 36 cases.

Ultimately, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin hope that the work they are doing with the Frontera Fund will lead to equality and respect for the rule of law in Arizona.