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UPDATE: Plaintiffs rest case in Arpaio Trial

by Luci Navas on 08/01/2012 at 4:13pm

As the trial against “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, Maricopa County’s Joe Arpaio, continues,  the bar has been set high to prove that he is guilty of racial profiling, despite “offensive letters, tearful stories and reams of statistics”.

From the Associated Press via the Washington Post:

Arpaio has repeatedly denied the racial profiling allegations. And experts say it’s not enough for plaintiffs’ lawyers to show that a person or a group of people were discriminated against. Systematic discrimination claims such as these require more evidence.

A group of Latinos say deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks, an allegation Arpaio’s lawyers dispute.

According to Tim Gaynor from the Chicago Tribune:

The trial has focused attention again on law enforcement and immigration issues in Arizona. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key element of the state’s crackdown on illegal immigrants requiring police to investigate those they stop and suspect of being in the country illegally.

Arpaio, 80, testified under oath last week that he was against “anyone racial profiling” and denied his office arrested “people because of the color of their skin.”

Cecillia Wang, a counsel for the plaintiffs, said her side had proven the charges against Arpaio and his office, and that sheriff’s officers had admitted in court that “Hispanic ethnicity” was a factor in developing suspicion of illegal immigration status during traffic stops.

Other evidence presented showed “top brass” at the office circulated anti-Latino materials, “sending the message that race discrimination would be tolerated,” Wang said.

The suit was brought against Arpaio and his office on behalf of five people of Hispanic background who said they were stopped by deputies because of their ethnicity, which Arpaio denies.

Judge Murray Snow has ordered that closing statements be submitted by August 9, with rebuttals due a week after that. He says that he will issue his ruling afterward.

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