Maricopa County votes to settle Sheriff Joe Arpaio lawsuit
Jul 15, 2015, 1:28 PM | Updated: 1:51 pm
PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to settle a lawsuit involving Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The suit, originally filed by the Department of Justice in 2012, claimed Arpaio’s office retaliated against critics of his immigration enforcement policies and county officials and judges who were at odds with the sheriff in legal and political disputes.
It also alleged the sheriff’s office has discriminated against Latinos in business raids aimed at cracking down on identity theft and punished Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish.
The sheriff denied the allegations and called the investigation a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration.
Arpaio’s office will now be required to establish an anti-retaliatory policy and procedures for workplace raids. If the raids involve more than three suspects, MCSO will be required to notify the federal government.
“I think the assessment portion of it is what the community is looking for,” Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo said. “They’re looking to make sure the sheriff is making changes and he is going to abide by those changes.”
The sheriff’s office also must offer language assistance for inmates, including translators or translation services. Deputies will be required to let staff know when a detainee has limited English skills and publish all important documents — including its website — in Spanish.
The Justice Department case also alleged racial profiling by Arpaio’s officers, a matter which has not been settled. A short trial on the accusation is expected to begin Aug. 10.
The Justice Department’s case is separate from a racial profiling lawsuit filed against Arpaio by immigrant rights advocates. The sheriff lost that case two years ago when a judge concluded his officers singled out Latinos in their regular traffic and immigration patrols.
Arpaio is scheduled to appear in court in the profiling case, also on Aug. 10, on civil contempt of court charges.
As of May 18, lawsuits involving Arpaio have cost taxpayers $74,547,478 since 1993. As of June 11, Maricopa County taxpayers paid $4.7 million in attorney fees in the Justice Department case.
Arpaio, 83, has been sheriff of the county for 23 years.
KTAR’s Cooper Rummell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.