Arizona county can be held liable for discriminatory policing by ex-Sheriff Arpaio, court rules

Government Law

- Arizona county can be held liable for discriminatory policing by ex-Sheriff Arpaio, court rules

Joe Arpaio.

Maricopa County, Arizona, can be held liable for racial profiling by former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The opinion by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Arpaio was acting as a final policymaker for Maricopa County, and the district court was correct in finding the county liable, the National Law Journal reports. How Appealing links to the opinion and to coverage by the Arizona Republic and the Associated Press.

The United States had alleged in its suit against Arpaio and Maricopa County that the sheriff targeted Hispanic drivers in pretextual traffic stops intended to find immigrants in the country illegally. The federal government had alleged violations of laws protecting civil rights and giving the federal government the power to review actions of law enforcement agencies with a pattern and practice of violating federal rights.

The county had argued Arpaio’s policies were not the county’s policies, but if they were, the county wasn’t liable under the laws that formed the basis of the suit.

A federal court rejected Maricopa County’s arguments and granted partial summary judgment to the United States. After the district court’s grant of summary judgment, the parties settled the remaining claims. The 9th Circuit affirmed, rejecting both the county’s liability arguments in an opinion by Judge Paul Watford.

The 9th Circuit also agreed with the district court’s decision to bar the county from relitigating the lawfulness of Arpaio’s policies. The issue had had been decided in a prior class action by Hispanic motorists filed against Arpaio by the American Civil Liberties Union.

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After the cases ended, Arpaio was found guilty in July of contempt of court for violating a federal judge’s order to stop detaining citizens based only on a suspicion they were in the country illegally. President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in August.


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Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is president and managing partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., a local search and digital marketing agency that offers clients lead generation, local seo and Google Maps Domination. Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market. A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place. Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their lead generation programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

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