Hearing set in sheriff's racial profiling case

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A federal judge on Monday set a hearing for next week in the racial profiling case against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, two months after a monitor was appointed to watch the agency's actions.

Lawyers for Sheriff Joe Arpaio faced a Monday deadline to file an appellate brief over a ruling that concluded the sheriff's office systematically racially profiled Latinos in its patrols.

Copies of the sheriff's brief weren't immediately available Monday evening.

Arpaio has already appealed a May ruling by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow that found the sheriff's office racially profiled and unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people during traffic stops.

Arpaio has vigorously denied the allegations.

The sheriff is now appealing Snow's order issued last fall that appointed an official to ensure the office is following the judge's remedies, including installing video cameras in hundreds of the agency's patrol vehicles and conducting additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional arrests.

Arpaio has argued that it would nullify the authority given to him by voters if every one of his policy decisions would have to be cleared through a monitor, who was appointed on Jan. 17.

Snow scheduled a status conference for Monday morning in Phoenix to discuss the monitor's recommendation to the court "that it take early corrective action to avoid the perpetuation of patterns of conduct that may not be in good faith compliance with the court's injunction" that was issued Oct. 2.

The judge said plaintiffs in the case still are upset that the sheriff's office chose to conduct a traffic stop operation two weeks after the order.

"It is imperative that the personnel of the MCSO obtain an accurate understanding as to why their past policies, practices, and procedures are unconstitutional," Snow wrote in his 17-page order Monday. "As the court observed in its findings, at least some of the MCSO's unconstitutional conduct either occurred as a result of, or was exacerbated by, faulty training or communication failures within the MCSO. To be corrected, the unlawful policies, patterns and practices of the MCSO must be clearly, accurately and completely communicated to, and understood by, MCSO personnel."

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