Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The "most corrupt sheriff in America," Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio, goes on trial today in a civil lawsuit for a declaratory judgment that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department has a systematic policy of discrimination of racially profiling Latinos. U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow is presiding over the trial that begins today and is expected to last until early August. Ariz. sheriff faces profiling allegations at trial:
Now, the sheriff in Arizona's most populous county will have to convince a federal judge who is presiding over a lawsuit that heads to trial on Thursday and is expected to last until early August.
The plaintiffs say Arpaio's officers based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.
"He is not free to say whatever he wants," said Dan Pochoda, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, one of the groups that has pushed the lawsuit against Arpaio.
"He will be called as a witness in our case," Pochoda said. "He will not have control over the flow of information, and he is not the final arbiter."
The plaintiffs aren't seeking money damages and instead are seeking a declaration that Arpaio's office racially profiles and an order that requires it to make changes to prevent what they said is discriminatory policing.
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The lawsuit marks the first case in which the sheriff's office has been accused of systematically racially profiling Latinos and will serve as a bellwether for a similar yet broader civil rights lawsuit filed against Arpaio in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.
That lawsuit makes many of the same racial profiling allegations, but goes further to say that Arpaio's office retaliated against its critics, punished Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish and failed to adequately investigate a large number of sex-crimes cases. No trial date in that case has been set.
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U.S. District Judge Murray Snow has issued rulings against Arpaio earlier in the case. In December, he barred Arpaio's deputies who are enforcing Arizona's 2005 immigrant smuggling law from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they're in the country illegally. Arpaio has appealed that decision.
Without ruling on the ultimate question of whether Arpaio's deputies racially profile Latinos, the judge ruled in December that a reasonable trier of fact could interpret some of Arpaio's public statements as endorsing racial profiling.
As he considers the case, Snow said, he may assume that the records that Arpaio's office has acknowledged destroying in the case could have included documents such as citizen complaints, some of which could have been racially charged and didn't allege criminal activity.
Still, Snow reminded plaintiffs' attorneys what they need to prove to make their claim of systematic discrimination. At a hearing in March, the judge told them that in order to back up the racial profiling allegations, they must show that Arpaio's office had a policy that was intentionally discriminatory.
The judge said "even if I accept as true the premise that there was an illegal search or an illegal stop that was without probable cause, 10 or 11 stops by different officers over the course of three years doesn't do a lot towards establishing a policy and procedure."
The plaintiffs' attorneys say they plan to prove systematic discrimination, in part, by focusing on their allegation that Arpaio launched some patrols based on racially charged citizen complaints that alleged no actual crimes.
Separate from the two lawsuits that allege racial profiling, a federal grand jury has been investigating Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and is specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad.
The Arizona Republic today editorialized about Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio's wasting taxpayer dollars on his World Net Daily "Birther" conspiracy theory into President Obama's birth certificate. Arpaio's act gets tiresome.
Last night, Tucson TV news station KGUN 9 at 10 p.m. aired this appropriately captioned report. Racist, extreme or just crazy? GOP leaders mum on Arpaio investigation - KGUN9.com. Here is the video report.