Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The civil trial for racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriffs Department ended on Thursday, with the parties to submit closing briefs to Judge Murray Snow
The best trial summary I have read so far comes from Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times. Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Trial Ends, and Yes, Joe's Still Guilty as Sin - Phoenix New Times (excerpts):
As U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow explained what he wanted opposing counsel to address in their closing, written arguments in the ACLU's big racial-profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio, he mentioned that he didn't mean to "foreshadow" his ruling with the questions he was asking.
And yet, Snow seemed to do just that after the last witness left the stand a little before 3 p.m. Thursday, the final day of the trial.
An exacting jurist with an obsession for detail, Snow noted that in videotaped testimony Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawyers had played for the judge earlier, Alonzo Pena, former Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Phoenix office, said race could be used, along with other factors, in developing probable cause regarding an individual's immigration status.
Snow, who is both judge and jury in this bench trial, observed that in the Ninth Circuit, Pena is "dead wrong," according to a precedent set in U.S. v. Montero-Camargo, a 2000 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that eliminated race as a factor in most immigration stops.
If the MCSO used race as "one factor among many," does it matter if they believed they were following the law, as instructed by ICE? That is to say, if MCSO deputes intended to use race as a factor, does it matter if they did not intend to violate the law?
That was the inquiry put to lawyers for both sides, and yet, in his December ruling granting class action to all Hispanics stopped by the MCSO since January of 2007, Snow addressed the same issue.
Back then, Snow wrote:
"Defendants assert that in training 287(g) officers, ICE informs them that race or apparent ancestry may be used as one factor in evaluating whether officers have reasonable suspicion to stop an individual, although it cannot be considered the sole factor.
"Whether or not such information is provided by ICE to local law enforcement officers during their 287(g) training, the law in the Ninth Circuit is clear: `Hispanic appearance is of little or no use in determining which particular individuals among the vast Hispanic populace should be stopped by law enforcement officials on the lookout for illegal aliens.'"
Translation: the MCSO is up a creek sans paddle, flippers, or canoe.
Its officers have admitted under oath that they believed race could be considered as one among many factors, and even Arpaio has expressed this idea more than once in press conferences and interviews. The MCSO has insisted that ICE taught its officers to do just that.
That's just the beginning of the MCSO's woes. Snow stated that he was going to decide "what the policies of the MCSO are," and that, "I am also going to be determining what the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office are, regardless of what the policies state or may or may not state."
The Arizona Republic additionally reported on Sunday, Racial-profiling trial outcome hinges on hard data:
[A]mong the most contested elements introduced at the trial were the statistical analyses of the length of the office's traffic stops, and how regularly deputies checked Hispanic names -- vs. non-Hispanic names -- with dispatchers.
Boiled down, the data the plaintiffs' expert produced showed Hispanic drivers were more likely to get pulled over during the sheriff's "saturation" patrols; that they were more likely to have their names checked when stopped; and that their stops were likely to last more than two minutes longer than non-Hispanic drivers' stops, no matter the day the stop occurred.
* * *
"The data is very important, and whether or not the court accepts the data as it has been presented by the plaintiffs will be a key piece as to whether or not the plaintiffs succeed," said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh professor and national expert on racial-profiling.
Harris did not attend the trial but had access to the data.
"It's bolstered by a lot of the other evidence that the plaintiffs put in: Actions and so forth by the sheriff and the people who work for him, and the stories of the people who say this happened to them," said Harris. "But the stats standing alone, I think they're pretty good."
Taylor concluded that on saturation-patrol days:
Hispanic drivers were 20 to 33 percent more likely to have their names checked with dispatchers than non-Hispanic drivers.
Hispanic drivers were 42 to 50 percent more likely to have their names checked if the deputy was active in the saturation patrol.
Those same deputies active in the saturation patrols were 57 to 67 percent more likely to check Hispanic names than deputies working on those same days outside of the patrol.
On stop lengths, Taylor found:
Stops with one or more Hispanic names checked ran two to three minutes longer than those in which no Hispanic names were checked with dispatchers.
Stops in which citations were issued and one or more Hispanic names were checked lasted up to 21/2 minutes longer.
"These are all highly statistically significant," Taylor told the court. "These results are highly unlikely to be chance patterns in this data."
* * *
Harris, the University of Pittsburgh racial-profiling expert, said . . . "The name checking is more important than a lot of other factors because it's a reasonably good proxy for Hispanic heritage, and that's the basis for the claim," he said. "I don't want to overstate it: That's the thing that shows you there may be a focus on Latino drivers. Ultimately, the case begins with that if it doesn't end with that."
You will recall that in the recent case of Arizona v. Unites States, the SB 1070 review, the U.S. Supreme Court cautioned the state of Arizona that in fashioning rules to implement the one remaining portion of SB 1070 that it did not strike down on federal preemption grounds, any stop that exceeeds the normal length of time for a stop and detention because of verification of immigration status is constitutionally suspect. The Supreme Court in effect told the state of Arizona "Good luck with that. We'll see you back here in two years when we will strike down the remaining portion of SB 1070 as unconstitutional."
One other aspect of this case that I find compelling: the MCSO hired as its statistical expert witness at trial Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., an anti-immigration think tank.
The Center for Immigration Studies is directly connected to the anti-immigration advocacy group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR played a significant role in drafting Arizona's controversial SB 1070. According to the FAIR website, "FAIR's legal affiliate, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) assisted [Arizona] Senator Pearce in drafting the language of SB1070." That would be Kris Kobach, formerly with IRLI and now Kansas Secretary of State, and an immigration advisor to Willard "Mittens" Romney.
So the MCSO hires as its expert witness a guy who works for anti-immigration organizations responsible for SB 1070 to prove that the MCSO does not intentionally discriminate against Latinos? This should weigh heavily against the MCSO. When it comes to evaluatiing the crediblity of witnesses, the Judge should take into account Mr. Camarota's connections and give little weight to his biased "expert" (sic) testimony.
Judge Snow allowed each side 35 pages for the initial arguments due on August 9 and an additional 17 pages due on August 16. I would not expect a ruling in this case until after Labor Day.
It is looking good for the Plaintiffs, but I have to caution that "disparate impact" cases of discrimination are data intensive and difficult for plaintiffs to win.