Civil Rights

Trial looms for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DOJ suit alleging retaliation against judges and others

  • Print


Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Christopher Halloran /

A Monday pretrial ruling in a civil rights case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against a long-serving Arizona sheriff appears to put the feds in the driver’s seat.

U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver said the DOJ won’t have to litigate its claims that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio racially profiled Latinos. That’s because this fact was established in an earlier class action brought by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and tried before a different federal judge in 2013, according to the Associated Press and the Phoenix New Times.

But remaining issues in the DOJ case, including whether Arpaio retaliated against judges and others who disagreed with him with inappropriate civil court filings and/or criminal cases, will be decided in an August trial, Silver ruled.

“We are pleased that the court has granted our motion and entered judgment against Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County for engaging in discriminatory traffic stops that formed the basis for some of our central claims in this case, and has permitted our other claims to go forward to trial,” said DOJ lawyer Mark Kappelhoff in an email to KJZZ.

Attorney Joe Popolizio, who is representing Arpaio, said the Monday ruling makes little difference from his client’s perspective, because Arpaio is already dealing with the adverse result in the ACLU case. “On the rest of the claims, however, the court ruled that issues of fact must be resolved at the upcoming trial in which the United States still bears the burden of proof,” Popolizio told KJZZ in an email.

Meanwhile, Arpaio is battling potential contempt findings concerning his claimed noncompliance with a 2013 decision by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow in the ACLU case.

The New York Times (reg. req.) and Reuters also have stories.

Related coverage: “US ‘Pattern or Practice’ Suit Says Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Office Discriminated Against Latinos”

Arizona Republic (opinion): “Embattled, stubborn Sheriff Arpaio says he won’t quit”

See also: “Contempt hearing bombshell: Sheriff Joe Arpaio admits he had federal judge’s wife investigated” “Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s lawyers protest federal judge’s questions during contempt hearing”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.