Partial Deal in Arpaio Racial-Profiling Case

     PHOENIX (CN) – Sheriff Joe Arpaio faces a trial on Justice Department allegations of targeting Latino drivers, but Maricopa County, Ariz., otherwise settled the racial-profiling case Friday.
     The U.S. Department of Justice sued “America’s Toughest Sheriff” in 2012 for targeting Latinos for traffic stops, discriminating against Spanish-speaking inmates in jails and retaliating against critics.
     The settlement, filed today in court after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved it Wednesday, details the actions Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office must take to comply.
     “The resolution of these claims, with the important safeguards against future constitutional violations included in these agreements, is in the best interests of the people of Maricopa County,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Kappelhoff said in a statement Friday. “The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office changed many of their practices after the commencement of our litigation, and these agreements ensure that progress continues and the Constitutional rights of the people of Maricopa County will be protected for the long term.”
     Before any workplace raids occur, Arpaio is to draft policies to make sure the raids comply with the law and give the DOJ copies of the policies and any other information it may want on the proposed raids.
     The DOJ reserves the right to “bring a new civil action within two years of the effective date of this agreement seeking relief for alleged violations of federal law relating to any worksite identity theft operations that occurred prior to the effective date of this agreement,” the deal states.
     Arpaio disbanded his Criminal Employment Unit, which conducted workplace immigration raids, earlier this year after conducting raids for about six years.
     The settlement requires the lawman to prohibit retaliation – implemented by allegations he retaliated against critics – by announcing “a policy of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to respect the First Amendment rights of all individuals.”
     “MCSO personnel will not take action against any individual in retaliation for any individual’s lawful expression of opinions in the exercise of the First Amendment rights to the freedom of speech,” the policy continues.”
     The DOJ’s lawsuit referenced a number of incidents of retaliation, including when former Chief Deputy David Hendershott “filed five separate complaints with the Arizona State Bar targeting attorneys who spoke out publicly against MCSO and Arpaio,” and “four complaints with the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct targeting judges who had either made public statements critical of MCSO or had issued decisions that Arpaio or MCSO command staff disliked.”
     All of these complaints were then later dismissed.
     The settlement says the Sheriff’s Office has established a language-access program to benefit “limited-English proficient” (LEP) inmates to settle claims that it refused to accept grievance forms or prisoner request orders written in Spanish.
     Maintenance of the program involves allowing LEP inmates access to language services, employing bilingual or multilingual staff to aid inmates, and identifying inmates who will need these services during the intake process, according to the settlement.
     The DOJ stipulates that the Sheriff’s Office not use other inmates for translation help, as it is “generally not appropriate and should only be an option in unforeseeable emergency circumstances or if the topic of communication is not sensitive, confidential, important, or technical in nature and the inmate is competent in the skill on interpreting.”
     No part of the settlement addresses allegations by the DOJ that Arpaio’s deputies relied on factors “such as whether passengers look ‘disheveled’ or do not speak English” in determining who to pull over during traffic stops.
     The DOJ says it is in ongoing discussions with Maricopa County to resolve the remaining claims, which would otherwise go to trial on Aug. 10.
     The judge assigned to the case, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver, found last month that a 2013 judgment by Judge G. Murray Snow in a separate racial-profiling case should largely stand for the DOJ’s racial-profiling claims.
     Arpaio and four of his current and former aides face civil contempt charges in that same case. The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the settlement.

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