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Border & Immigration

Testimony in Arpaio Discrimination Trial To Conclude Thursday

Testimony Closes
The trial of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's tactics wraps up today in Federal District Court. Plaintiffs say the Sheriff's crackdown on illegal immigration caused deputies to treat Latinos unfairly.

Trial testimony in the case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office wraps up Thursday in federal court. Plaintiffs allege the sheriff's crackdown on illegal immigration caused deputies to treat Latinos unfairly.

This civil case isn't about money. Instead, plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to rule that their constitutional rights were violated, and force the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to adopt safeguards against racial profiling.

In order to win, plaintiffs -- who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund -- must be able to show systematic racial profiling occurs at the sheriff's office.


In response, MCSO's lawyers are making their case that the agency prohibits racial profiling, and already does enough to prevent the practice.

On Wednesday, they called expert witness Bennie Click to bolster their defense. Click had almost three decades of experience with the Phoenix Police Department before serving for several years as the Chief of Police in Dallas.

Click reviewed MCSO written policies and training requirements. 

"He has said that they meet all of the national standards -- meet or exceed -- all the national standards," Tom Liddy, attorney for the defendants, said after court.

Plantiffs' attorney Dan Pochoda was not convinced.


"They don't have, as all acknowledge, a general policy that prohibits racial profiling, nor even defines for the officers what racial profiling is," said Pochoda, who is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. "We believe that is a below any standard."

Pochoda's cross examination of Click will continue on Thursday.

Earlier on Wednesday, MCSO officers testified that they had been instructed not to use race as a basis for making a traffic stop.

One detective made a surprising comment in his testimony. He said he wasn't concerned that almost all the people arrested after an MCSO saturation patrol had Latino names since Arizona is a Latino majority state.

Census data, in fact shows, only 30 percent of Arizona is Latino.

Throughout the trial, attorneys for the plaintiffs have suggested the lack of concern by MCSO staff at all levels about the disproportionate number of Latino arrests helps prove there are problems at the agency.

After testimony concludes, each side will submit written closing arguments to Snow. He has not yet indicated when he will issue his ruling.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been edited to reflect that trial testimony, rather than the trial itself, would conclude on Thursday.

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