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Maricopa County settles parts of U.S. rights suit against Arpaio
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Maricopa County settles parts of U.S. rights suit against Arpaio

  • Cronkite News

PHOENIX — An Arizona county agreed on Wednesday to settle three key parts of a 2012 lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department against controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies over alleged civil rights violations, a spokesman said.

In a unanimous vote, Maricopa County supervisors approved agreements they said were aimed at preventing any repeats of alleged past abuses that included retaliating against public officials, discriminating against Latino inmates and improperly conducting workplace immigration raids.

Under the agreements, the county agreed to oversight by the Justice Department and to new policies, procedures and training to remedy the claims. The county does not concede any wrong-doing and will not be asked to pay any monetary damages, according to settlement documents.

"Maricopa County has always intended to settle this case," Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Chucri said in a statement after the vote. "We are pleased we can settle these three items and move forward."

Still to be decided is the result of allegations stemming from non-immigration related traffic stop enforcement, county officials said. That could come at a trial scheduled to begin on Aug. 10. 

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that she would adopt the findings made by another federal judge in a separate 2007 racial-profiling case leveled against Arpaio and his operations.

The judge in that case found that Arpaio's deputies racially profiled Latino drivers and unlawfully detained them during traffic stops. The Justice Department's lawsuit was broader.

An Arpaio spokesman said it was "inappropriate to comment at this juncture. ... We look forward to addressing the issue in the near future."

Justice Department officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The settlement comes as Arpaio is fighting to remove judge Murray Snow in the racial profiling case, while asking Snow to stay the case while an appeal is considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That appeal is expected to be filed by July 24.

Snow has refused to remove himself, rejecting claims that his decisions could be seen as biased.

He said that motion filed by Arpaio and his chief deputy Gerard Sheridan was "legally insufficient and untimely."

Arpaio and other past and current top officials face civil contempt hearings for repeatedly violating Snow's court orders. Possible punishments include fines, restitution and increased oversight of the sheriff's office. They could also face criminal contempt proceedings.

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