Lawyers for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department filed their second and final written closing arguments Thursday in a lawsuit brought by a group of Latinos who accused Arpaio’s department of discrimination. The seven-day trial before U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ended August 2nd, following months of failed negotiations to settle. Lawyers from both sides filed their first round of arguments last week, but Judge Snow has not yet announced when he will deliver his verdict.
The plaintiffs claim that Sheriff Arpaio had an intentional policy of discriminating against Latinos, pulling them over strictly to perform immigration status checks. They also accuse the sheriff or basing regular traffic patrols and special immigration patrols not on reported crime but rather on racially charged complaint letters from Arizona residents. The group that sued Arpaio is not asking for monetary compensation, but rather for a declaration that the sheriff’s office has racially profiled and for an order that will make future policy changes to prohibit profiling.
Arpaio’s lawyers have said that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the sheriff or any of his deputies are guilty of racial profiling. Arpaio has repeatedly denied the allegations, stating that his deputies only stop people who they suspect to be guilty of another crime. Moreover, Arpaio claims that he did not choose the location of 20 immigration patrols that took place.
The lawsuit marks the first case in which the sheriff’s office has been accused of systematically racial profiling against Latinos. The case precedes a similar yet broader civil rights lawsuit filed against Arpaio in May by the U.S. Department of Justice.