DOJ Expected To Join Negotiations With Arpaio Attorneys

By Jude Joffe-Block
June 14, 2013

PHOENIX -- Attorneys on both sides of a racial profiling class action suit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will spend the next two months negotiating over a final judgement in the case, known as a consent decree.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled the Sheriff's immigration enforcement systematically violated the rights of Latino motorists.

The class action suit was brought by Latino motorists in 2007. The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU.

At a hearing in federal court in downtown Phoenix Friday morning, Snow granted the lawyers two months to reach agreement on a final judgement, known as a consent decree.

The parties will meet again in court on Aug. 30.

In that time, the parties will negotiate new protocols for training, record keeping and an independent monitor for Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, to ensure the department complies with Snow's ruling.

The U.S. Department of Justice — which filed its own lawsuit against Arpaio alleging discrimination against Latinos in May 2012 — has asked to be included in those negotiations.

One day before Friday's hearing, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin, submitted a statement of interest to Snow.

"The United States believes that such talks appropriately could address the possibility of a global settlement encompassing the United States’ claims against the Sheriff in United States v. Maricopa County, et al." the statement reads.

"Such an agreement would be in the interests of all of the parties, the Court, and the people of Maricopa County."

Attorneys on both sides of the DOJ lawsuit attended Friday's hearing.

Both the ACLU and attorneys for the Sheriff welcomed the idea of including the DOJ in their negotiations, though questions do remain.

"I think that just from a common sense litigation standpoint it would make sense for all the parties to try to resolve as much of both lawsuits as possible, just as a matter of efficiency," said Cecillia Wang, an attorney with the ACLU.

Tom Liddy, who represents the Sheriff, agreed. He said it would save taxpayer money.

"Of course it makes sense to invite them in to the process here," Liddy said. "It wouldn't make sense to have two trials, and to have two consent decrees. But some of the issues are different in that case."

The DOJ's suit is much broader than the class action case, as it alleges discrimination against Latinos in the Sheriff's jails, and worksite enforcement operations.

But Judge Snow said in court the final resolution in the class action case must be limited to MCSO's dealings with Latino drivers only.