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Suit to limit human-smuggling prosecutions revived

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, foreground, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio give a news conference in Phoenix on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 regarding the U.S. Justice Department suing the state of Arizona over immigration law SB 1070. The federal government took a momentous step into the immigration debate Tuesday when it filed a lawsuit seeking to throw out Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying the law blatantly violates the Constitution. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, foreground, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio give a news conference in Phoenix on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 regarding the U.S. Justice Department suing the state of Arizona over immigration law SB 1070. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office from prosecuting undocumented immigrants as co-conspirators of the smugglers who bring them into Arizona.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the case can go forward. A federal judge in Phoenix had dismissed the case in January under a legal principle that it would interfere with ongoing criminal prosecutions.

The 9th Circuit agreed with that interpretation as it relates to the plaintiffs of the suit who have already been charged with conspiracy to commit smuggling. But the appeals court ruled that other plaintiffs — mostly advocacy groups — could still sue to prevent future prosecutions.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas interpreted Arizona’s 2005 human smuggling law to charge the people smuggled as conspirators.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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