PHOENIX — A top aide to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being called
into court Thursday to answer questions about mischaracterizing a judge’s key
findings in a racial profiling case against the sheriff’s office.
The hearing marks the second time that a sheriff’s official has been ordered to
court for inaccurately summarizing the findings of U.S. District Judge Murray
Snow, who last week chided Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan for similar
Ten months ago, Snow concluded Arpaio’s office systematically racially profiled
Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols and unreasonably
prolonged the detentions of people during traffic stops.
Arpaio has vigorously denied that his agency racially profiles people and has
appealed the ruling.
The judge is requiring Arpaio’s office to install video cameras in hundreds of
patrol vehicles, set up a seven-person team of sheriff’s employees to help
implement the judge’s orders, and carry out additional training to ensure
officers aren’t making unconstitutional traffic stops.
The judge on Thursday is expected to question Deputy Chief David Trombi about a
March 15 community meeting in which the Arpaio aide said the judge found
deputies had detained Hispanic drivers 14 seconds longer than non-Hispanics,
when Snow had made no such ruling.
The sheriff’s lawyers have acknowledged Trombi’s error in court filings.
Arpaio and Sheridan aren’t required to attend the hearing.
Last week, Snow criticized Arpaio and Sheridan for trivializing and
mischaracterizing his ruling during an Oct. 18 training session with
rank-and-file officers. The judge said a video of the training session appears
to suggest to deputies that they weren’t obliged to make their best efforts to
remedy the agency’s constitutional violations.
Sheridan had apologized for the errors.
In response, Snow ordered lawyers on both sides to accurately summarize the
judge’s rulings and put those statements in a letter that Arpaio and Sheridan
will sign and give to all sheriff’s employees.