County Liable for Arpaio Race Discrimination

Former Arizona sheriff Joseph Arpaio may not face legal consequences of his racially discriminatory policy of traffic stops targeting Latino drivers looking for illegal aliens, but Maricopa County can be held financially liable for the violations, a federal appeals court said Monday.

Maricopa County, Arizona, lost its bid to avoid liability for the actions of Arpaio, in a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday.

Although Arpaio was pardoned by President Trump for charges of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey orders that his cease the discriminatory traffic stops, Maricopa County cannot avoid its liability for his actions, the court found.

Arpaio had his deputies stop cars with Hispanic drivers or passengers on pretexts in order to check whether they were legal U.S. citizens.

It upheld a summary judgment order in favor of the United States, which sued to block halt the racially discriminatory policing policies under Arpaio.

Arpaio was the final policymaker for the county on policing issues and so Maricopa County is liable for violations stemming from its own official policies, wrote Judge Paul Watford for the court.

Case: US v. County of Maricopa, No. 15-17558



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