Thursday, October 3, 2013

Court Issues Supplemental Order in Melendres v. Arpaio: Monitor, Bias Training, Policy Changes Mandated


Yesterday, Judge Murray Snow issued a supplemental permanent injunction/judgment order in Melendres v. Arpaio.

As previously reported on ImmigrationProf, the District Court after a trial ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff's Office in the name of immigration enforcement had engaged in rampant violations of the civil rights of Latinos.  The 150 page-plus ruling 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.  The plaintiffs convinced the court—through the MCSO’s internal correspondence and public statements, and statistical analyses—that the MCSO had the intent to discriminate. Evidence also showed that the discrimination had harmful effects, including higher traffic stop rates and longer stop times for Latinos.  The MCSO's widespread racial profiling created a culture of fear in Maricopa County, making Latinos anxious that getting in a car could lead to an interrogation by armed officers or incarceration at the county jail.

The supplemental order specifies the measures that must be taken to remedy the discrimination in the immigration and law enforcement efforts of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.  It reads like the kinds of orders issued in the 1960s and 1970s in school desegregation, prison reform, and other kinds of cases in which deep and enduring institutional reform was found to be necessary to ensure compliance with the U.S. Constitution. 

The ACLU of Arizona, co-counsel for the plaintiff class, issued a press release summarizing the terms of the new order. Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU, stated that “Working with the Latino community, the ACLU will seek to ensure that the MCSO’s abuses end." The order designates the ACLU as representing the plaintiffs in the implementation of the permanent injunction.

In addition to the appointment of an independent monitor to keep tabs on the MCSO’s behavior and ensure compliance with the injunction, the court specifocally required audio and video recording of all traffic stops, increased training for and monitoring of sheriff’s office employees, creation of a racial profiling policy, and the implementation of comprehensive record keeping. Officers will also be required to radio in the basis for each traffic stop before making contact with the people in the vehicle.

Recognizing the need to repair the MCSO’s relationship with the public, Judge Snow also mandated the creation of a Community Advisory Board, the appointment of a Community Liaison Officer and the implementation of a community outreach program. The order’s requirements must remain in place for no less than three years.

“The monitoring, training, recordkeeping and other provisions in the court’s order today should go a long way toward reforming the MCSO,” said Stan Young, a partner with Covington & Burling. “This reform will help prevent future racial profiling of the kind that Sheriff Arpaio’s past policies encouraged. These remedies were necessary to restore public trust and the principle of equal treatment under law.”

For a news report on the supplemental order in the case, click here.


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