Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arizona-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio The DOJ May Be His Waterloo


Sheriff Arpaio Strikes Out in Court
PHOENIX (CN) - A federal judge Monday granted summary judgment on three of the Justice Department's racial profiling claims against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and denied two of Arpaio's requests and struck one for wordiness.
     The Department of Justice sued Arpaio on civil rights charges in 2012 for retaliating against critics, targeting Latinos for traffic stops, and discriminating against Latino jail inmates who are not fluent in English.
     On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver found that a 2013 ruling by Judge G. Murray Snow in a separate racial profiling case against "America's Toughest Sheriff" should largely stand for the Justice Department's racial profiling claims against Arpaio.
     In that case, Melendres v. Arpaio, Snow found the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office used race as a factor in stopping a vehicle or initiating an investigation and barred it from continuing the practice.
     Arpaio, in his sixth term as sheriff, and a number of his former and current aides face civil contempt charges in Melendres for failing to follow Snow's order. Proceedings in that case have been placed on hold after Arpaio asked to have Snow recused. He claimed the judge could not be objective after finding that Arpaio had tried to investigate his wife.
     Arpaio also argued that "applying non-mutual, offensive issue preclusion as to the findings from Melendres would be unfair," but Judge Silver disagreed.
     "Because the United States did not 'purpose[fully] elude[] the binding force of an initial resolution of a simple issue' nor improperly interfere in the initial proceeding such that this case would represent its second bite of the apple, non-mutual, offensive issue preclusion would not be unfair and, therefore, should be granted in this case," Silver wrote.
     The Justice Department's allegations of improper workplace raids, home raids, and jail operations will stand, and may be litigated during a bench trial Silver ordered to begin Aug. 10.
     Government claims that Arpaio and his deputies discriminated against inmates with limited English proficiency and retaliated against his critics also stand, as they were not covered under the Melendres order.
     Arpaio argued that the retaliation claims against him should be dismissed because the Justice Department lacked standing, as his actions are a "past wrong with no real or immediate threat of future retaliation."
     Silver disagreed, finding that the federal government presented facts, in that lawsuits Arpaio filed against his critics and his complaints to the Arizona State Bar and Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct show retaliation.
     "Arpaio does not contest that he and MCSO filed the lawsuits, submitted bar complaints, and performed the arrests the United States alleges," Silver wrote. "But the United States' facts are sufficient to raise a reasonable inference that Arpaio's actions were performed out of retaliatory animus. Arpaio's conclusory denials do not defeat this evidence
     The Sheriff's Office and attorneys in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division were immediately available for comment Tuesday. 

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