Judge Rules Against Sheriff Arpaio in Racial Profiling Case

A San Francisco appeals court said it again: Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies can't detain car occupants simply because they're Latino.
by | April 16, 2015 AT 10:00 AM

By Andrew Harris and Edvard Pettersson

A San Francisco appeals court said it again: Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies can't detain car occupants simply because they're Latino.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld almost all the remedies imposed by a lower-court judge who permanently barred the sheriff from detaining drivers and passengers on the basis of race. Three years ago, the appeals court affirmed the judge's temporary order.

The ruling is the latest legal setback for Arpaio, whose police power covers the city of Phoenix. In December, he lost a challenge to President Barack Obama's immigration policies when a U.S. judge in Washington said the sheriff hadn't shown they'd harm Maricopa County, in the south-central part of Arizona.

Wednesday's ruling was largely technical, upholding a lower court's permanent order requiring the appointment of a monitor to oversee the department, the use of audio and video recordings of traffic stops, increased training of officers, and improved reporting of misconduct complaints. Arpaio had tried to narrow that order.

"The district court has broad discretion in fashioning a remedy," the appeals court said.

Tim Casey, a lawyer for the sheriff, didn't immediately return a call to his office for comment on the decision.

Officers must also radio in the basis for each traffic stop before making contact with those in the vehicle, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which brought the case.

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio has continually tried to dodge responsibility for his unconstitutional actions, and once again the courts have rebuffed his attempts," the ACLU said in a statement.

The case is Melendres v. Arpaio, 13-16285, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

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