PHOENIX — A judge who nearly two years ago ruled that an Arizona sheriff’s
office racially profiled Latinos has signaled his willingness to hold a second
trial in the case to explore the lawman’s acknowledged violation of a 2011 order
to stop conducting his signature immigration patrols.
Lawyers who won the profiling case said Friday that hundreds of Latinos have
been identified as having been pulled over by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe
Arpaio’s office in violation of the pretrial order and should be financially
compensated by the county for the harm they suffered.
The county’s potential financial exposure from the violation is unknown. Even
so, Arpaio had offered nearly two months ago to seek $350,000 in seed money from
the county for a fund to compensate those who were harmed.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow told attorneys on both sides to try to resolve
the process for compensating victims and other issues in hopes of avoiding a
trial. He said that he will grant a new trial if an acceptable settlement isn’t
Arpaio is undergoing civil contempt of court proceedings for his acknowledged
violation in failing to inform his officers about the 2011 pretrial order,
leaving them to violate the injunction for about 18 months.
The sheriff also has accepted responsibility for his agency’s failure to turn
over traffic-stop videos in the profiling case and bungling a plan to gather
such recordings from officers once some videos were discovered.
Arpaio could face fines. The judge has said he intends to later launch a
criminal contempt case that could expose the sheriff to jail time. The sheriff
has proposed paying $100,000 from his own pockets to a civil rights organization
in an unsuccessful bid to call off the civil contempt hearings.
The sheriff’s office said in mid-March that it identified at least five people
who were detained by deputies in violation of the 2011 preliminary injunction.
But opposing attorneys said they are seeking to contact hundreds of Latinos who
have been identified as victims of the violation, though they concede it’s
unlikely that all will come forward.
Stan Young, one of the attorneys pressing the case against Arpaio’s office,
said Mexican officials are helping to find some of the victims both in the
United States and Mexico.
The attorneys opposing Arpaio are expected to ask the judge to impose new
remedies in the profiling case that will confront what they say are inadequate
internal investigations into wrongdoing by officers and new procedures to
prevent the types of violations Arpaio has acknowledged.
Michele Iafrate, an attorney representing the sheriff’s office, objected to the
judge’s views on who would be considered eligible victims of the violation.
Snow said he believes the compensation would apply to Latinos who were not only
pulled over in traffic patrols after the preliminary injunction was issued but
also to some Latinos detained in Arpaio’s business raids aimed at seeking out
people who used fake or stolen IDs to get jobs.
Over the last seven years, the profiling case has cost the county $6.8 million
in attorneys’ fees, and the county has forked over $2.6 million to pay a staff
that is monitoring the sheriff on behalf of the judge.
Taxpayers also are picking up the costs of video cameras in patrol vehicles and
the creation of a fund to compensate people harmed by the violation of the 2011
order that barred Arpaio’s immigration patrols.