Home / courts / Class-action attorneys: Racial profiling by Arpaio’s office proven

Class-action attorneys: Racial profiling by Arpaio’s office proven

Fernando Rios of Promise, Ariz. carries a sign to protest outside Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse in downtown Phoenix, before the start of the racial-profiling case against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. Lawyers who say that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office disproportionately singled out Latinos in the patrols accused him of launching some sweeps based on emails and letters that don't allege crimes, but complain only that "dark-skinned people" are congregating in a given area or speaking Spanish. Arpaio has long denied racial profiling allegations. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Nick Oza)

Attorneys who alleged systematic racial profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration patrols said they proved their case at a trial that ended last week and emphasized that the agency doesn’t have adequate safeguards against singling people out based on their race.

Lawyers on both sides of the case are presenting their closing arguments through legal briefs. Arpaio’s lawyers filed their arguments Thursday, while the brief by opposing attorneys wasn’t made available until Friday morning.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow will decide the case after he receives the last round of closing arguments that are due next week. The judge didn’t reveal when he would issue his ruling.

A small group of Latinos who brought the case said Arpaio’s deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks during regular traffic patrols and the sheriff’s 20 special immigration patrols.

Arpaio also is accused of ordering some of the patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.

The sheriff has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying his deputies only stop people when they think a crime has been committed and that he wasn’t the person who picked the sites of the patrols.

The plaintiffs aren’t seeking monetary damages. Instead, they want a declaration that Arpaio’s office uses racial profiling and an order requiring policy changes. If Arpaio loses the civil case, he won’t face jail time or fines.

In a brief filed Thursday, Arpaio attorney Tim Casey said that opposing lawyers didn’t prove Arpaio or his deputies made any stops based on discriminatory intent.

Lawyers for those who filed the lawsuit said Arpaio’s office masks its immigration patrols as general crime suppression efforts when the real purpose is to seek out and arrest illegal immigrants.

The sheriff’s office has said deputies are given training and repeated warnings to avoid racial profiling.

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