A federal judge has appointed a monitor to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to watch progress on efforts by the department to stop racial profiling. The judge also issued other orders for the department. Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton will discuss the case.
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A federal judge this week appointed a monitor to oversee efforts by the Maricopa County sheriff's office to end what the court found as a pattern of racial profiling. Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Paul Charlton is here to discuss the case. It's good to see you again.
Paul Charlton: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Your general thoughts on the judge's ruling, especially as it pertains to the monitor, but in general as well.
Paul Charlton: I think perhaps most striking, Ted, is that part of the order where Judge Snow yesterday told the Maricopa County sheriff's office that it is now required to provide police services consistent with the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the state of Arizona. The fact that a district court judge had to instruct the head of our law enforcement agency in this county of that fact and that obligation is in itself extraordinary. The rest of the order as you say, is designed to implement that order, to make sure that everyone in the county receives equal protection under the law.
Ted Simons: Not only the order, you find extraordinary, but was it extraordinary to have these kinds of checks and balances on the order?
Paul Charlton: It is. The sheriff's office is now going to be required for example to put cameras in every deputy's vehicle, to create a community advisory board, to collect more data to provide objective information, and prove that the sheriff's office is in fact complying with the Constitution. And finally, as you pointed out, maybe most significantly, the requirement that a monitor assure that the sheriff is in fact complying with the court order.
Ted Simons: How would the sheriff's office work with this monitor?
Paul Charlton: The monitor, who is going to be selected hopefully by agreement between the ACLU and the sheriff's office, and if not, by selection of the judge, will review the sheriff's activities, review the court order, make sure the sheriff is complying with every aspect of this 59-page order, and report to the judge quarterly to make sure the judge knows exactly what the sheriff is doing.
Ted Simons: So the MCSO would have to give information to the monitor? Does the monitor request information? How do you make sure that compliance is happening?
Paul Charlton: Both of those. The sheriff's office will be required to periodically provide information to the monitor and to the ACLU. The monitor will be required to provide information to the court indicating the sheriff is or is not in compliance with the court's order, and there are a series of time frames which the sheriff's office needs to comply with as well to ensure that they are following the court's order.
Ted Simons: As far as this monitor is concerned, who -- Obviously the groups get together and decide on folks and the judge agrees whether or not this is a good enough monitor. Who should the monitor be? Law enforcement? Judicial? What is it?
Paul Charlton: There are actually people out there who are very qualified to hold this kind of position. Other monitors have been appointed throughout the country and at various times. I'm sure there are individuals with prior law enforcement experience, people who are respected in the law enforcement community and respected by the ACLU who could be appointed. As I say, the court order allows that the ACLU and the sheriff's office can come to agreement, but if they cannot, they are to submit qualified candidates to the judge, and the judge himself will decide who that individual will be.
Ted Simons: As far as the plaintiffs and the profiling case and -- It sounds like they're going to be involved here as well. That unusual?
Paul Charlton: It is unusual to this degree. First, the sheriff's office is going to have a period of time to prove they are in compliance with the court order. That is expected to be about a year. Then the sheriff's office must show that for the next three consecutive years they are complying with the Constitution and the court order, and the ACLU will be a part of that process every step of the way. That is unusual. And it is unusual that any law enforcement agency would fight in the way that this office, the sheriff's office, has fought to prohibit or try to stop this kind of court order.
Ted Simons: What happens if this sheriff's office goes away? Does the order stay, if there's a new sheriff in town in a couple of years, as opposed to the three-year deadline for whatever reason, we don't know what could happen, but for whatever reason something changes, does the court order still stand?
Paul Charlton: The court order still stands. The judge was very clear this order applies to the sheriff's office, to this sheriff and any succeeding sheriff for the period of time this order is in place.
Ted Simons: OK. We've got audio-video of traffic stops, 24-hour notification of planned immigration activities. Again, unusual?
Paul Charlton: It is unusual. And it's not only unusual because these are private plaintiffs who are involved in this lawsuit. But we have to remember, Ted, the Department of Justice is in line with a very similar lawsuit before the very same judge against the very same law enforcement agency, our sheriff's office to try to seek a broader scope of remedies to prohibit a broader scope of alleged civil rights abuses, but really very similar. And the Department of Justice alleges the sheriff is violating the civil rights of individuals within this county.
Ted Simons: How much duplication happens between these two? What happens if the -- We don't know if the sheriff's department will appeal. Are there any indications?
Paul Charlton: There is indication the sheriff's office will appeal. And we should keep in mind the sheriff's office has expended a great deal of resources in defending this case. We, the taxpayers, paid for the sheriff's lawyers in this six-plus-year lawsuit, and the court ordered yesterday, Ted, that we, the taxpayers, must now pay the plaintiffs' lawyers. So we can expect as taxpayers to pay a seven-figure number, approximately, for these lawyers to continue in this litigation. So, Ted, if it's right to criticize the sheriff's office for expending the resources, we, the taxpayers, resources, it's also right to suggest that the Department of Justice now come to the table with the sheriff's office and say, we have by and large obtained much of what we seek in our lawsuit, perhaps Sheriff Arpaio, sheriff's office, we should try to resolve our issues as well.
Ted Simons: That is -- If the sheriff's office appeals you don't know how far it's going to go, and the attorneys' fees will be out there anyway. It seems as though this has to -- six years, this has to end soon.
Paul Charlton: It would be wise, and most law enforcement officers and agencies do seek a remedy short of trial. The Department of Public Safety, for example, years ago, had a suit brought against it by the ACLU, seeking to stop them from what was a perceived injustice, and that they were, they believed, the ACLU, that the DPS was stopping people based on race. DPS said let's come to an agreement. So they came to a consent agreement, they had an advisory board, and they provided the ACLU and the public with data to show in fact they are not stopping people based on race or ethnicity. That could have been the same paradigm here, the sheriff's office took a different track and we, the taxpayers, are paying because of that.
Ted Simons: With that in mind, what happens, there's a lot of requirements here as far as this court order is concerned with monitors and oversight and the whole nine yards. What happens if the sheriff's department says OK, we'll do it, but they don't do it?
Paul Charlton: In every contempt case where the court imposes an order, the vehicle by which the judge can punish those people who don't follow his orders is contempt. Contempt can mean a fine, it can even mean in the most extreme cases imprisonment. In those cases, it is the individual who's imprisoned who holds, as they say under the law, the very keys to his or her own liberty. As soon as they comply with the judge's order they're released. So the judge has a broad spectrum of possible penalties he can impose should the sheriff's office not comply with his order.
Ted Simons: Last question. How much does this change the sheriff's department's immigration procedures?
Paul Charlton: I would say an extraordinary amount. The sheriff's lawyer has said they will comply with the judge's order pending a possible appeal. The sheriff now has to put in place clear and strict guidelines by which his deputies must comply with the Constitution, make sure they are not racially profiling and that they're providing equal protection under the law.
Ted Simons: All right. It's fascinating stuff. I got a funny feeling -- I don't have a funny feeling at all. We've been covering this story for so long, it just seems like it goes on forever. We'll see about the appeals process, but it's great to have you on to explain this. Thanks for joining us.
Paul Charlton:Former U.S. Attorney, Arizona;