Thursday, June 9, 2011

Attorneys who filed lawsuit alleging profiling by Arpaio's office are awarded attorney fees

A judge Wednesday awarded $94,000 in fees and other costs to lawyers representing a handful of Latinos in a lawsuit that alleges racial profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration patrols.

The lawyers argued that Arpaio's office should pay the costs of reopening depositions in the case after it was discovered in earlier testimony that the police agency had destroyed records sought in the lawsuit. They say they wouldn't have had to reopen the depositions had they had gotten the records earlier.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued a ruling Wednesday awarding $70,000 to a California law firm, $2,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and an additional $22,000 for court reporter and videographer services.

Arpaio's lawyers didn't object to some of the costs but disputed some of the attorney fees.

The judge didn't grant all the fees that attorneys requested.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Justin Griffin said the money will come from the county's self-insurance pool.

Snow issued a ruling last year finding grounds to sanction the agency for having shredded officers' records of traffic stops made during the patrols, but he held off on issuing the punishment.

Later, some immigration-patrol-related emails that were thought to have been deleted by the sheriff's office turned out to have been saved by the county as part of an unrelated lawsuit.

During the patrols, deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases, heavily Latino areas — over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders.

Critics say Arpaio's deputies target people for minor traffic infractions based on their skin color so they can ask for proof of citizenship.

Arpaio has denied allegations of racial profiling, saying people are stopped if deputies have probable cause to believe they've committed crimes, and that deputies later find many of them are illegal immigrants.

By Jacques Billeaud, Associated Press

Source: The Republic

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