Ninth Circuit rules Arizona county police engaged in racial profiling

Ninth Circuit rules Arizona county police engaged in racial profiling

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [ official website] on Wednesday ruled [opinion PDF] that the Maricopa County Sherrif’s Office [official website] and, specifically, Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, engaged in practices of racial profiling in conducting traffic stops. The court found that the Sheriff’s office was improperly named as a defendant, and that the Sheriff, in his official capacity, is representative of the entire entity. The court also ordered that Maricopa County be substituted as a party in lieu of the Sheriff’s Office. In affirming part of the District Court’s findings, it was ruled that the “provisions of the injunction pertaining to corrective training and supervision procedures and provisions requiring specific data collection and video recording of traffic stops” was not overbroad, and thus was upheld. The court, however, vacated a portion of the lower court’s ruling, finding that the provision of the injunction requiring an appointed monitor to consider reports of officer misconduct and internal investigations “created a problem to the extent that such internal investigations and reports were unrelated to the constitutional violations found by the district court.” In doing so, the court ordered the district court to “tailor them so as to address only the constitutional violations at issue in this case.”

The use of racial profiling by law enforcement officials has been an ongoing topic of discussion in the US. Last year the UN Committee Against Torture [official website] urged the US [report, PDF] to open investigations [JURIST report] into all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force by police officers. The committee expressed concern over the use of force against certain people and the use of “racial profiling by police and immigration offices,” among other tactics used by law enforcement. In 2013 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] accused [press release] governmental surveillance centers of invasion of privacy and reliance on racial and religious profiling in their Suspicious Activity Reports urging [letter, PDF] the centers to adopt stricter standards of reporting [JURIST report].