A federal judge gave the U.S. Justice Department a partial victory on Monday in its lawsuit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio that alleges sweeping civil rights violations.
In a written ruling, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver let stand the findings of another federal judge in a separate 2007 lawsuit filed by civil rights groups. The judge in that case ruled Arpaio’s deputies racially profiled Latino drivers and unlawfully detained them.
Silver said she would not allow the parties to relitigate the allegations involving the “discriminatory traffic stop claims” in granting the request for summary judgment made by Justice Department attorneys.
The Justice Department filed its suit in May 2012 alleging that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, run by Arpaio, intentionally engaged in racial profiling and unlawful arrest of Latinos, violating their constitutional rights.
It also accused the office of routinely violating the rights of political opponents by targeting them with unsubstantiated complaints and lawsuits, including arresting them.
The lawsuit further alleged that Arpaio’s deputies discriminated against Latino inmates with limited English proficiency.
Those latter claims will be the focus of a trial set to begin before Silver on Aug. 10 in federal court in Phoenix.
Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” denies the allegations and pledged to fight “to the bitter end” when the Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed.
An Arpaio spokeswoman declined comment on Monday’s ruling, and his attorney could not immediately be reached.
The decision is the latest legal setback for the 83-year-old lawman, who is fighting civil contempt proceedings by another federal judge as part of the separate 2007 racial profiling case, which was filed by civil rights groups on behalf of Latino drivers.
Frustrated by violations of his court orders in that case, Judge Murray Snow held contempt hearings in April against Arpaio and four others in the case.
But further proceedings were put on hold after lawyers for Arpaio and an aide asked that Snow be removed after what they called decisions that could be seen as biased.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)
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