Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Appeal Judge's Finding His Department Engaged in Racial Profiling

A group of Latino citizens said they were unfairly singled out for their race.

ByABC News
May 25, 2013, 3:24 PM

May 25, 2013— -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio's attorneys said today they plan to appeal a federal judge's finding that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, helmed by Arpaio, racially profiled Latinos while on immigration patrols.

Complaints of deputies pulling over and singling out people who are dark skinned and speak Spanish to check their immigration status have long been levied against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Tim Casey, the attorney representing Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said racial profiling has never been a policy of the department, but said deputies may have been given faulty training by federal authorities on immigration enforcement.

"The law clearly says you cannot do that, and this judge has clearly made it known that that is not the law,and ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) taught that, and that is not correct," he said.

Casey said the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office would appeal the judge's ruling in the next 30 days.

The lawsuit was brought against the department by a group of Latinos who alleged they were racially profiled by Arpaio's deputies for the purpose of immigration status checks.

The group did not seek monetary damages in the lawsuit and instead asked for a judge to declare the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office had engaged in racial profiling and to order policy changes.

"We were looking for a declaration from the court that these are unconstitutional practices as an important first step in stopping those practices," said Don Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has championed the case.

The 142-page ruling was issued on Friday, more than eight months after a seven-day bench trial was held in the case.

U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow wrote that "the evidence introduced at trial establishes that, in the past, the MCSO has aggressively protected its right to engage in immigration and immigration-related enforcement operations even when it had no accurate legal basis for doing so."

A hearing has been set on June 14 in Phoenix to discuss how to carry out the orders in the ruling.

RELATED: Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Top Publicity Stunts: From Pink Underwear to Glen Campbell

Arpaio, who will turn 81 in June, is serving his sixth consecutive term as sheriff of Arizona's most populous county, which includes Phoenix.

The self-styled "America's Toughest Sheriff" has made national headlines for everything from putting inmates in pink underwear to creating the nation's first all-female chain gang.

In February, he tapped actor Steven Seagal to lead members of the Arizona sheriff's volunteer posse through a simulated school shooting.

ABC News Radio contributed reporting.