Arpaio aide called to court in profiling case

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A top aide to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being called into court Thursday to answer questions about mischaracterizing a judge's key findings in a racial profiling case against the sheriff's office.

The hearing marks the second time that a sheriff's official has been ordered to court for inaccurately summarizing the findings of U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who last week chided Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan for similar errors.

Ten months ago, Snow concluded Arpaio's office systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols and unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people during traffic stops.

Arpaio has vigorously denied that his agency racially profiles people and has appealed the ruling.

The judge is requiring Arpaio's office to install video cameras in hundreds of patrol vehicles, set up a seven-person team of sheriff's employees to help implement the judge's orders, and carry out additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops.

The judge on Thursday is expected to question Deputy Chief David Trombi about a March 15 community meeting in which the Arpaio aide said the judge found deputies had detained Hispanic drivers 14 seconds longer than non-Hispanics, when Snow had made no such ruling.

The sheriff's lawyers have acknowledged Trombi's error in court filings.

Arpaio and Sheridan aren't required to attend the hearing.

Last week, Snow criticized Arpaio and Sheridan for trivializing and mischaracterizing his ruling during an Oct. 18 training session with rank-and-file officers. The judge said a video of the training session appears to suggest to deputies that they weren't obliged to make their best efforts to remedy the agency's constitutional violations.

Sheridan had apologized for the errors.

In response, Snow ordered lawyers on both sides to accurately summarize the judge's rulings and put those statements in a letter that Arpaio and Sheridan will sign and give to all sheriff's employees.

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