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Appeals court declines hearing over overhaul of Arpaio’s internal affairs

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — An appeals court has declined to hold a hearing over its earlier ruling that upheld a court-ordered overhaul of then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s internal affairs operations.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Maricopa County in upholding the overhaul, but the county then asked for another hearing on the appeal. The request for another hearing was rejected Friday.

It was unclear whether the county will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.

The overhaul was ordered by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in July 2016 in a civil case in which Arpaio’s officers were found to have racially profiled Latinos in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. The internal affairs changes were a response to a civil contempt finding made against Arpaio for disobeying Snow’s orders in the profiling lawsuit.

The lawsuit had morphed into an examination of wrongdoing by employees, including allegations that some officers pocketed drivers’ licenses and other items from people during traffic stops. Snow had complained that Arpaio’s internal affairs investigations were fraught with biased decision-making.

The county had argued Snow had complete “editorial control” over new internal affairs policies, that the overhaul’s financial costs would burden taxpayers and that the county isn’t the proper target of the lawsuit.

In asking for another hearing before the appeals court, the county focused heavily on the issue of whether it was the proper target of the lawsuit.

In a separate lawsuit, the county plans to ask the Supreme Court to review a ruling that concluded the county is liable in lawsuits over Arpaio’s crackdowns on immigrants during traffic stops.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery has said the goal is to correct court decisions that misapplied laws saying which agencies are proper targets in lawsuits and, in the process, to reduce some of the county’s legal costs.

After Arpaio was found in civil contempt, he was convicted of criminal contempt for disobeying Snow’s order to stop immigration patrols. He was later pardoned by President Donald Trump, sparing Arpaio a possible jail sentence.

Arpaio, who was unseated in late 2016 as metro Phoenix’s longtime sheriff, finished in last place in the Republican primary two weeks ago for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.

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