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Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio is expected to take the stand today, when a civil trial probing into his department’s chronic abuse of racial profiling resumes.
The no-jury, single-judge trial began last week in Arizona, with plaintiffs arguing that Arpaio and his department regularly profile and detain Hispanics without probable cause, often only so that they can question people about their immigration status. Sheriff Arpaio maintains that his department only stops people it thinks is likely to have committed crimes, with deputies only later finding out the undocumented status of those arrested. The plaintiffs are not seeking money or redress, only a declaration that the Sheriff’s office does racially profile Latinos and a court order forcing them to change their policies.
Among the people taking the stand last week were:
The trial is expected to continue this week and end mid-next week. Commentators are calling the trial a prelude to a separate Department of Justice trial against Arpaio, which further delves into questions of neglected sex-crimes investigations, police retaliation against critics, and punishment of Latino inmates for speaking Spanish. The date of that trial has not yet been set.