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Ninth Circuit Co-Responsibilizes Maricopa County for Arpaio’s Misconduct

Written by Carmen Cornejo

The ripple effects of Arpaio’s misdeeds are in the news again, one-and-a-half years after his departure as Maricopa County Sheriff, when he was voted out of office.

Today, Monday, May 7, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Maricopa County can be held liable for the discriminatory practices of the former Sheriff.

This is important.

Over the last 24 years, Maricopa County taxpayers have already paid more than $140 million in settlements and diverse litigation stemming from jail deaths to discrimination and abuse of power. Among the most notorious litigations were the years-long Melendres v. Arpaio and the resulting contempt of court trial.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s opinion states today that “under Arpaio’s leadership, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office routinely targeted Latino drivers and passengers for pretextual traffic stops aimed at detecting violations of federal immigration law,” and that Arpaio acted as a final policymaker for Maricopa County when he instituted those policies.

Maricopa County was named a defendant in those cases since the County Board had the opportunity to rein in Arpaio and his policies but relinquished their responsibilities.

With today’s decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals validates the responsibility the County Board of Supervisors shares for Arpaio’s policies, finding that, under Arizona’s constitution, “with respect to law enforcement matters, sheriffs in Arizona act as final policymakers for their respective counties.”

Read the Ninth Circuit decision here.