The Department of Justice’s civil rights lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, alleging a pattern of behavior including retaliation against the Sheriff’s political enemies, was settled on most counts by Maricopa County this past July 16. A bench trial had been scheduled in United States of America v. Maricopa County of et al (2:2012-cv-00981) to begin in August and to last 15 days. (Joe Arpaio is part of the et al).
Basically, the settlement agreement states that Defendants will put policies and procedures in place so that these abuses won’t happen again and promises to stop doing bad things. Some of the issues had been addressed previously by changes in the Sheriff’s Department, the Melendres lawsuit, and prior lawsuits involving the retaliation issue.
Some have expressed concern over the settlement because it does not bring the retaliation issue to trial. The private lawsuits over this matter were settled and the County paid out millions (about 12 and half); however, there was no admission of guilt and no trier of fact has determined that Sheriff Joe actually used his law enforcement position to retaliate against political opponents.
The original May 2012 complaint contained 6 specific claims for relief:
- Defendants’ law enforcement policies and practices violate 42 U.S.C. §14141 and the Fourteenth Amendment
- Defendants’ searches, arrests, and detentions violate 42 U.S.C. 14141 and the Fourth Amendment
- Defendants’ treatment of Latinos violates Title VI
- Defendants’ treatment of Latino LEP (limited English proficient) prisoners violates Title VI
- Defendants’ treatment of Latinos violates the Title VI assurances
- Defendants’ retaliation against their critics violates 42 U.S.C. § 14141 and the First Amendment
The settlement agreement resolves items 2 and 6, and references a separate agreement on item 4. Judge Silver has ordered parties to provide clarification of the nature of their settlement agreement, whether it is indeed a settlement agreement or a consent decree or consent judgment.
In a subsequent brief (ECF 401), Maricopa County states: “In its Motion for Stay, Plaintiff represents that, if permitted to intervene in the Melendres case, it will pursue no additional remedies in this case.” So there is a motion to stay the proceedings before Judge Silver in the DOJ case until such time as Judge Snow rules on the motion to intervene by the DOJ. Joe Arpaio agrees (ECF 402) to the stay.
- Lawsuit Says Sheriff Discriminated Against Latinos – New York Times (2012)
- Upward Bound & Sheriff Joe Arpaio & Early Literacy – PBS Horizonte (7/23/2015) video