Arpaio's lawyers appeal racial-profiling ruling

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Attorneys for America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff filed notice Friday that they are appealing a federal judge's ruling that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office racially profiled Latinos in its immigration enforcement.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled last month that Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office systematically singled out Latinos in its immigration patrols and deputies unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people who were pulled over.

In a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Arpaio's lawyers list seven specific issues the Sheriff's Office is challenging in Snow's May 24 ruling, which came more than eight months after a seven-day, non-jury trial in Phoenix.

Arpaio's attorneys want the appeal court to consider whether Snow erred when he prohibited deputies from detaining suspected undocumented immigrants while they contact federal officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They also want the 9th Circuit to decide whether Snow was wrong when he barred Arpaio's deputies from detaining people suspected of violating the state laws that target illegal immigration.

Arpaio's lawyers also have asked the appeals court to consider whether MCSO deputies violated constitutional protections that ensure equal protection and prohibit unwarranted searches and seizures during traffic stops related to immigration enforcement.

At a hearing last week, Snow indicted that a court-appointed monitor likely would be assigned to assure Arpaio's office is complying with constitutional requirements.

But Arpaio's attorneys said they opposed the monitor idea.

Tim Casey, one of Arpaio's lawyers, told Snow that MCSO has ended some of its controversial programs and hasn't conducted any immigration sweeps since October 2011.

The trial that ended Aug. 2 focused on Latinos who were stopped during both routine traffic patrols and special immigration patrols known as "sweeps."

During the sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city - in some cases, heavily Latino areas - over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.

Immigrants who were in the country illegally accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008, according to figures provided by Arpaio's office.

Known for jailing inmates in tents and making prisoners wear pink underwear, Arpaio started doing immigration enforcement in 2006 amid Arizona voter frustration with the state's role as the nation's busiest illegal entryway.

Arpaio, who turned 81 last week, was elected in November to his sixth consecutive term as sheriff in Arizona's most populous county.