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Arizona county asks to be dismissed from lawsuit against sheriff

Maricopa County [official website], Arizona, asked a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Thursday to dismiss the county from a lawsuit brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] against Sheriff Joe Arpaio [official website; JURIST news archive] for alleged racial profiling. The county argued [AP report] that it should be dismissed from the lawsuit against Arpaio because it had no authority in creating or implementing Arpaio's law enforcement policies. Last month, the DOJ sued Arpaio [JURIST report], as well as his office and Maricopa County, claiming that Arpaio and his department engaged in unlawful discriminatory law enforcement actions against Latinos. The DOJ included Maricopa County in the lawsuit because it alleges that the county is responsible for ensuring that its allocation of federal money complies with the law. It is not yet clear when the judge will decide whether to dismiss the county from the DOJ's lawsuit.

Earlier this week, the DOJ asked the district court to reject Arpaio's request [JURIST reports] to dismiss the lawsuit against him. The DOJ had conducted a comprehensive and independent investigation of Arpaio initiated in June 2008 under Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 [text, PDF] and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [DOJ materials]. After the DOJ found reasonable cause that the sheriff's office engage in a pattern of discriminatory practice, it filed a suit against Arpaio.

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