Sheriffs vs. Feds – Sheriffs prevail


A m e r i c a n  P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N  S E N S E , in Arizona
Tuesday, February 16, 2010  

The duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county. He has law enforcement powers that exceed that of any other state or federal official.

This is settled law that most people are not aware of.

County sheriffs in Wyoming have scored a big one for the 10th Amendment and states’ rights. The sheriffs slapped a federal intrusion upside the head and are insisting that all federal law enforcement officers and personnel from federal regulatory agencies must clear all their activity in a Wyoming County with the Sheriff’s Office. Deja vu for those who remember big Richard Mack in Arizona.

Bighorn County Sheriff Dave Mattis spoke at a press conference following a recent U.S. District Court decision (Case No. 2:96-cv-099-J (2006)) and announced that all federal officials are forbidden to enter his county without his prior approval ……

“If a sheriff doesn’t want the Feds in his county he has the constitutional right and power to keep them out, or ask them to leave, or retain them in custody.”

The court decision was the result of a suit against both the BATF and the IRS by Mattis and other members of the Wyoming Sheriff’s Association. The suit in the Wyoming federal court district sought restoration of the protections enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution.

Guess what? The District Court ruled in favor of the sheriffs. In fact, they stated, Wyoming is a sovereign state and the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official.” Go back and re-read this quote.

The court confirms and asserts that “the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers EXCEEDING that of any other state OR federal official.” And you thought the 10th Amendment was dead and buried – not in Wyoming, not yet.

But it gets even better. Since the judge stated that the sheriff “has law enforcement powers EXCEEDING that of any other state OR federal official,” the Wyoming sheriffs are flexing their muscles. They are demanding access to all BATF files. Why? So as to verify that the agency is not violating provisions of Wyoming law that prohibits the registration of firearms or the keeping of a registry of firearm owners. This would be wrong.

The sheriffs are also demanding that federal agencies immediately cease the seizure of private property and the impoundment of private bank accounts without regard to due process in Wyoming state courts.

Gosh, it makes one wish that the sheriffs of the counties relative to Waco, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma regarding their jurisdictions were drinking the same water these Wyoming sheriffs are.

Sheriff Mattis said, “I am reacting in response to the actions of federal employees who have attempted to deprive citizens of my county of their privacy, their liberty, and their property without regard to constitutional safeguards. I hope that more sheriffs all across America will join us in protecting their citizens from the illegal activities of the IRS, EPA, BATF, FBI, or any other federal agency that is operating outside the confines of constitutional law. Employees of the IRS and the EPA are no longer welcome in Bighorn County unless they intend to operate in conformance to constitutional law.” [Amen].

However, the sad reality is that sheriffs are elected, and that means they are required to be both law enforcement officials and politicians as well. Unfortunately, Wyoming sheriffs are the exception rather than the rule . . . but they shouldn’t be. Sheriffs have enormous power, if or when they choose to use it. I share the hope of Sheriff Mattis that “more sheriffs all across America will join us in protecting their citizens.”

If Wyoming Sheriffs can follow in the steps of former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack and recognize both their power and authority, they could become champions for the memory of Thomas Jefferson who died thinking that he had won those “states’ rights” debates with Alexander Hamilton.

This case is not just some amusing mountain melodrama. This is a BIG deal. This case is yet further evidence that the 10th Amendment is not yet totally dead, or in a complete decay in the United States. It is also significant in that it can, may, and hopefully will be interpreted to mean that “political subdivisions of a State are included within the meaning of the amendment, or that the powers exercised by a sheriff are an extension of those common law powers which the 10th Amendment explicitly reserves to the People, if they are not granted to the federal government or specifically prohibited to the States.”

Winston Churchill observed, “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fights with all the odds against you with only a precarious chance of survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is not hope of victory at all, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

by Dave Robinson Keene Free Press March 31, 2008


  1. This is very interesting, but we haven’t done too bad here in Maricopa County have we? In the east, people don’t know what a sheriff is. It’s all about the police.

    Great article.

  2. Is this one of those, Jump the Sheep, topics??

  3. Stephen Kohut says

    Amazing. People actually following the Constitution. Who would have thought. The progressives must be rolling over in their graves. Now we just need to explain it to all the lawyers that infest Congress, passing unconstitutional legislation and lawyers in the executive branch that execute it.

  4. While I would be glad to see sheriffs doing what they can to shield people from illegal searches or abuses by federal law enforcement, the post above consists largely of fabrications that have been circulating the internet since the late 1990’s. Even the court case claimed to exist (Case No. 2:96-cv-099-J) was claimed in 2000 as the just decided case. In the above it is claimed the case is from 2006. In fact there is no case. It has also been claimed before that there was a settlement from the late 90’s but I have not found it. Even if it did exist it would not do what the above article claims.

    About what I would expect from the A m e r i c a n P o s t – G a z e t t e, basically publishing a urban legend chain email.

  5. Graham County Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack is a legend for paving the way and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is today’s most visible example of continuing to enforce the law without asking the Feds for permission. It is good to know of other brave patriots that are serious about our safety. I am very impressed with our new Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeau. I would be pleased to stand with the likes of Mack, Mattis, Arpaio, and Babeau. We should thank them and their brave deputies.

  6. I had no trouble finding the case. Seems clear to me. What’s even better is other States are exercising their rights like Arizona. Joe gets the spotlight because of all the Country Club republicans that want cheap labor.

    Glad to see Joe is pressing on. Racist haters like Todd are fortunately in the minority.

  7. Really Roger. Post a link to a case that finds what the above article claims. You won’t because you are lying.

    Here is what the Chief Judge of the District of Wyoming has issues regarding such claims

    United States District Court District of Wyoming

    Our office has been receiving inquiries regarding the case of Castaneda v. United States, No. 96-CV-099.

    This was a civil case arising out of an alleged entry into an apartment by law enforcement officials in June of 1993. The Plaintiffs, who were staying in the apartment, alleged that the officials violated their civil rights. They filed an action against the United States, unnamed INS agents, Big Horn County, the County Sheriff, and unnamed Sheriff’s deputies.

    The complaint was filed in the Federal District Court for the District of Wyoming in May, 1996. The federal defendants were primarily represented by attorneys with the Constitutional Torts Branch of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. The County defendants were represented by non-federal attorneys. The case was settled following a settlement conference in 1997. The court did not rule on Plaintiffs’ claims or any other legal issues in the case. After the settlement conference, Big Horn County Sheriff, David M. Mattis, issued a “Policy.” In the “Policy,” the Sheriff purports to impose conditions upon federal law enforcement operations in the County.

    We have learned that it has been reported, erroneously, that the court made a legal ruling in the Castaneda case regarding the authority of federal law enforcement officials to conduct operations in the County. There was no such ruling or decision. Instead, the court simply granted a motion, submitted jointly by all the parties, to dismiss the case because the parties had settled.

    This Court has never issued an order which would serve to limit the lawful activities and duties of federal law enforcement officers and other federal employees in the District of Wyoming.

    Furthermore, this Court has never made the comments attributed to it which purports to advise state officers they can prohibit federal law enforcement officers or agents from entering a Wyoming County. Those alleged quotations are utterly false.

    Any person who interferes with federal officers in performance of their duties subjects themselves to the risk of criminal prosecution.

  8. Where’s the big surprise? Since when has the Post-Gazette cared about truth over the rhetoric that accomplishes their objective? It should be called The Pearce-Haney Report.

    “Any person who interferes with federal officers in performance of their duties subjects themselves to the risk of criminal prosecution.”

    My money’s on the idea that we will see this come to reality in Maricopa County real soon. And it ain’t the BOS.

  9. James Davidson says

    This is such a Rio Linda post. Don’t you Rio Lindistas have anything better to do?

    In Arizona the sheriff has no inherent powers, and the Arizona Constitution, article 12, section 4, provides that the sheriff, and all other county officers, have only the powers granted to their offices by the Legislature.

    The Legislature never has made the sheriff the highest law enforcement officer within the county. If you disagree, find me the law that says so.

    Nor could the Legislature make the sheriff a “higher” law enforcement officer than federal officers. We have a federal system. The federal government and the state governments each have certain powers and authorities. All have constitutions to abide by. The genius of the Founders was that the federal and state governments coexist within their jurisdictions.

    As for the county sheriff and federal law enforcement officers, each has only the authority granted by law within his or her jurisdiction.

    RINO Joe gets the spotlight because he is a publicity hound. Always was, always will be.

  10. Hugh Nuze is at it again. Journalism in its lowest form. Heard a rumor? Hugh will publish it a fact. Got an internet hoax you want to perpetuate? The Sonoran Alliance blog’s the place for you–assuming the scam fits their ideology.

    Does anybody think the guys who put this stuff out are even the least bit embarassed? Somehow I don’t think getting caught red-handed on this one is going to have any impact of the “research” done on stories appearing on this site.

  11. Hey name callers and naysayers, if you were not wanting in the area of clear thinking, you would be thankful to REAL men like Sheriff Joe, Babeau and others for their perseverance in following the law.
    Get a grip already!

  12. James Davidson says

    Rio Lindistas,

    Someone posts a stupid article about sheriffs. We call him on it and that makes us name callers and naysayers? Hardly.

    Thanks for RINO Joe? No, I’m not dumb enough to fall for his con job. He’s directly responsible for Big Sis’s election as governor in 2002, when she barely squeaked in, and he betrayed the Republican Party and conservatives everywhere. He even made a commercial for Big Sis in 2002. Remember?

    Now thanks to RINO Joe and Big Sis we have bankruptcy. And we have her in charge of Homeland Security. Really impressive guy, RINO Joe is, no?

    Did his support for Big Sis have anything to do with the fact that she let him off with a wrist slap in her 1998 federal investigation of him, announced by Big Sis and RINO Joe at their joint press conference?

    You Rio Lindistas, real men that you are, may fall for RINO Joe’s con job. Not the rest of us who do not live in Rio Linda.

    Gimme a break.

  13. James – get over it, you are living in the past. Joe has done great things not just for Maricopa County, but for the Country. Most states are trying to replicate what he has done here.

    And if you look at all the laws pertaining to powers of the sheriff, you will start yo understand the article. It says what the sheriff and county attorney have said all along. My guess is you support the criminals on the Maricopa County BOS.

  14. James Davidson says


    Wrong. I have no use for the BOS and would gladly support a movement to recall them all, RINO Joe included, except Andy Thomas, who I think has tried to do his best in difficult circumstances.

    If you consider the present-day bankruptcy of the State of Arizona the past, or Big Sis at Homeland Security as the past, then you might have a point. To me those are today’s facts.

    RINO Joe betrayed conservatives and the Republican Party and supported a liberal Democrat into the Governor’s chair. That is an absolute fact. She also let him out of her federal investigation of him with a wrist slap in 1998. True or false? Did he back her in 2002 against Salmon as payback or not?

    I have looked at the laws the Legislature has passed regarding the powers of the sheriff, and the article is nuts. It does not square in the least with what the true powers the Legislature has given a county sheriff in Arizona.

    As I wrote above, if you can cite one law passed by the Legislature naming the sheriff as the highest law enforcement officer in the County, I would reconsider. You can’t, because there isn’t. It is made up of whole cloth.

    RINO Joe has helped himself, first, last, and always. In case you forgot, he ran for the Phoenix City Council before he ran for sheriff, and he was a liberal then. What does that tell you about him?

  15. If you look operationally at all the laws you will find the article is correct. The Sheriff still must obey the laws, but no one can tell him what to do or how to do it. Joe has been saying this for some time. And the answer to your question is True. He did back she that must not be named and it was a huge mistake. He backed McCain at one point and that too was a hugh mistake. But he has done more to fight illegal immigration and all it’s associated problems than anyone. The fact we have a county attorney willing stand and fight makes it all possible.

    The corruption on the BOS is beyond anything most people can understand or believe, but it is true. Mr. Thomas risks his reputation because it MUST be done. The American Post Gazette was the first to get the truth out and I was glad when SA picked it up. DSW has personally experienced the wrath of the BOS and see their corruption. So I applaud both.

  16. James Davidson says


    Why did RINO Joe back Big Sis? She was a liberal Democrat then. Did it have to do with payback, since she let him off the hook?

    You didn’t say a thing about the fact that he ran for Phoenix City Council before he ran for sheriff — as a liberal.

    I’m with you a 100% about the BOS. But you have blinders on when it comes to RINO Joe. He’s in it for himself, as noted, first, last, and always.

  17. James:

    If you’re so upset about whom Arpaio supported in 2002, what do you think about McCain’s antics in 2001 when he tried to do an “Arlen Spector” and again in 2004 when he tried to get on the Kerry ticket?

    In any event Arpaio has been one of the few law enforcement figures who has enforced immigration laws in this state.

    But returning to your “bone of contention” Matt Salmon lost the race in 2002 by seeking to return reservation gambling to stage one. All that did was guarantee an Indian turnout of 70% as opposed to the usual 10%.

    This was a pure act of electoral stupidity as that particular horse had been out of the barn for ten years!

    Another major factor in that race was Salmon’s inability to raise money early in the campaign.

    He went into August with a 10% lead in the polls and by early October was almost 10% behind as Napolitano’s campaign launced a series of t.v. ads during September slamming his votes on health care and aimng them at retirement communities.

    As to the office of the Sheriff itself the holder is the preeminint law enforcement official within a county. That’s why the position is elected.

    The Sheriff’s defacto territory consists of the unincorporated areas of the county and incorporated areas without a police department

    But a Sheriff can override a local police chief and enter an incoporated jurisdiction within the county if deemed necessary.

    This is rarely done, but during the anit-war demonstrations and marches in Tempe during the late 60’s, John Mummert took the police reins in that town, and of course Joe cleaned out the illegal work gatherings in front of a downtown furniture shop when Phoenix refused to respond to the owner’s complaints.

    MCSO also conducted illegal alien sweeps in Mesa when that city’s police department refused to take action because of the city council.

    None of these actions were legally contested by Tempe, Phoenix or Mesa, and you can be sure, with the economic leverage possessed by the “Banana Republican” business interests there would have been immediate legal action taken.

    Instead they’re bringing in the feds to go on political fishing expeditions against Joe and Andy Thomas, so they can continue lining their pockets while the Dems get the future cheap votes of amnestied illegals.

    California here we come!

  18. James Davidson says


    McCain lost my support a long time ago. I am closer to Hayworth on the issues, but his temperament and judgment are questionable. Too often Hayworth is a mouth in search of a brain, what with the Foghorn Leghorn schtick. So I may not vote on that one, though I remain open to persuasion.

    You’re right that Salmon ran a bad campaign, but he had to deal with the newspaper shilling for Big Sis throughout. He still narrowed the gap and lost by about 11,000 votes out of more than a million cast and it took three weeks to figure out who won. It is beyond reasonable doubt that RINO Joe’s endorsement and commercial put Big Sis over the top and into the Governor’s chair.

    You dodged the question why RINO Joe campaigned for Big Sis, a liberal Democrat, for Governor in 2002, only to see her promptly rev up the state spending machine and drive us into bankruptcy. Was it payback because she let him off the hook in 1998, or did he agree with her liberal ways? Neither one is a pretty sight.

    You also avoided the fact that he ran for the Phoenix City Council as a liberal, and got beat, before he ever ran for sheriff. Rather chameleon-like, no?

    As for the goofy article that started all this, the title is “Sheriffs v. Feds, Sheriffs prevail.” That is poppycock, and you know it. Todd, above, proved the case from the United States District Court in Wyoming never said what the article claimed. I proved beyond doubt that the article’s premise — the sheriff is the “highest” law enforcement officer — was fantasy. In our system, the sheriff has law enforcement powers, so do federal officers, the DPS, and city police chiefs, among others. The lines of authority are distinct but sometimes paralel. RINO Joe is not “higher” than Jack Harris. The difference is geographical: RINO Joe’s authority runs to the county line and Harris’s only to the City limit.

    As for illegal immigration, RINO Joe was a Joey come lately. He did nothing about it his first three terms in office. His sweeps are all for show. If anyone gets deported to Nogales, they can cross the line the next day and take the bus back to Phoenix. What would make a difference is if he took down a prominent business, and Andy Thomas prosecuted it so that it lost its business license. The law provides that penalty. RINO Joe has pulled that trigger only once, and it was against a company that already had gone bankrupt. Big whup.

  19. James,

    Thank you! I have been asking for years how it is that Joe gets a pass and it is always met with no answer but plenty of “the other guy” rhetoric.

    He supported Janet!!!! Where is his RINO label? The effort of the opponent is not the issue…HE supported a DEM, a big Dem and that is the subject!

    What about his huge support of the PETA led ballot proposition against ONE pig farm in the White Mountains?

    Where are all the tea partiers there? A private industry overly regulated and placing a huge free market restriction because Joe loves his animals more than people?

    You description of Joe could be just as well made for Hayworth. For all the talk about McCain’s record, what did that guy do other than take up space and money? He lost a race that should have been, and apparently he took it as, a cakewalk. The voters of his ditrict did not want to return his money grubbing, arrogant, tall tale telling, non-productive persona back.

    Joe helped to give us Janet and JD really helped to give us Harry.

  20. James Davidson says

    Rio Lindistas,

    In case you doubt me about RINO Joe running for the Phoenix City Council as a liberal, before he ever ran for sheriff, go to:

  21. Mole:

    How can you defend this fabrication? This “story” didn’t happen. Your ace reported took urban legend as fact. There is no truth in it and it says nothing about the sherrif’s powers. You are trying way to hard to defend slipshod, phony reporting. That’s all there is here.

    Who knows what you mean by “look operationally” at the laws. That’s not a term anyone with legal experience uses. Call it what you want, but this is a non-story with no substance.

  22. Hamilcarbarca:

    Clear thinking? Really? Your buddy takes a pure piece of fiction and passes it off as fact and you think that’s clear thinking? Wow! I know it is hard for you “clear thinkers” to get this, but this “story” didn’t happen. That’s the reality and the sooner you get a grip on it the better.

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