Friday, May 24, 2013
ADIOS SHERIFF JOSE: Federal Court Rules Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violated United States Constitution: Court Says Arpaio and His Deputies Have Engaged in Racial Profiling Against Latinos in Maricopa County
Last summer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona stood trial for rampant violations of the civil rights of Latinos. The District Court has issued its ruling and Sheriff Joe cannot be happy. The ruling is here.
Judge Murray Snow's 142 page ruling is detailed and carefully crafted. He found that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MSCO) engaged in a pattern and practice of racial profiling in its immigration enforcement activities in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and entered a permanent injunction barring future profiling of Latinos by the MSCO.
Here is the winning team's press release:
"Federal Court Rules Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violated United States Constitution: Court Says Arpaio and His Deputies Have Engaged in Racial Profiling Against Latinos in Maricopa County
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions to target Latinos, a federal district court said today. The ruling comes following a three-week trial in July and August of last year, over a pattern of unlawful practices by Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) during immigration sweeps and traffic stops.
“Arpaio’s proven willingness to seek political gain at the expense of public safety and constitutional guarantees has come at a great cost to Latinos in Maricopa County, who’ve been terrorized by MCSO personnel and forced to endure years of racial harassment and abuse,” said Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “The court found that racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, from top to bottom, was pervasive and widespread. Given the absence of monitoring or even recognition of serious problems by agency personnel, court-required, substantive changes will be necessary to eradicate these unconstitutional practices and restore public trust.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP represented a class of Latino residents and a Latino community organization, Somos America, in the lawsuit.
“This is an important victory that will resound far beyond Maricopa County,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions simply because they’re Latino is illegal and just plain un-American. Let this be a warning to anyone who hides behind a badge to wage their own private campaign against Latinos or immigrants that there is no exception in the Constitution for violating people’s rights in immigration enforcement.”
Last September, a federal appeals court affirmed that Arpaio’s office cannot detain people solely on the suspicion that they are undocumented when it refused to reverse a lower-court’s ruling. Today, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow issued a decision in Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio that found the policies and practices of Arpaio and his office are discriminatory, violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Arizona Constitution.
“The evidence fully supports the finding of an equal protection clause violation,” said Stan Young, a partner with Covington & Burling. “We proved a discriminatory intent, through the sheriff’s own internal correspondence and public statements, as well as admissions that the MCSO uses Hispanic ethnicity as a reason to pursue immigration inquiries. We also proved a harmful effect, in the form of higher stop rates and longer stop times for Hispanics. Even apart from racial discrimination, we also proved that the MCSO improperly detains motorists and passengers without having an adequate basis. All of these violations will now need to stop.”
MCSO's rampant racial profiling had created a culture of fear in Maricopa County. Latinos and others who look or sound “foreign” have worried that a trip to the grocery store or to work will end with interrogation by armed officers or incarceration at the county jail.
“The voices of Sheriff Arpaio's racial profiling targets have been heard,” said Nancy Ramirez, Western Regional Counsel, MALDEF. “Today's decision vindicates Maricopa County community members who have long suffered from the Sheriff's discriminatory and illegal practices. We look forward to seeing much needed reforms implemented at the MCSO.”
Today’s decision is a major step in putting an end to the culture of fear that was created under Sheriff Arpaio’s leadership of MCSO. With this victory, plaintiffs’ attorneys will make a detailed submission to the district court, outlining steps that should be taken to put an end to the MCSO’s illegal practices."
Sheriff Arpaio reportedly will appeal the district court's ruling.
UPDATE (May 26): Here is a capsule summary from Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic of the district court's ruling in the case.