Judge won’t give more time to find victims of detentions
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge in Arizona who ordered taxpayer-funded compensation for Latinos who were illegally detained when then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio defied a court order has declined to give the victims more time to apply for the money.
The two-sentence ruling issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in the racial-profiling case means the one-year period for filing claims will end on Dec. 3.
Two years ago, Snow ordered the creation of a $500,000 compensation fund as a remedy for Arpaio’s acknowledged disobedience of the 2011 order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
Advocates for immigrant rights had argued that more time was needed to locate the victims.
Attorneys for Maricopa County countered by urging the judge to reject the proposed extension and accused opposing lawyers of trying to rewrite the terms of the compensation plan.
Under the plan, Maricopa County will pay $500 for the first hour of a person’s illegal detention and $35 for each additional 20-minute increment.
A $10,000 cap was imposed on such compensation, but victims can also seek money for damages such as lost wages and emotional distress.
The compensation costs are a small piece of the overall cost of the case, which so far have totaled $90 million.
Lawyers who filed the profiling lawsuit have said at least 190 people were detained in violation of the 2011 order, but they are unable to find their phone numbers and addresses.
Far fewer people than expected have filed claims because of the difficulty of locating victims.
Only one claim totaling $1,095 has been paid among the 93 filed. Twelve others are considered payable but await a rebuttal from the sheriff’s office, according to county records.
Arpaio called The Associated Press unsolicited Wednesday morning to point out that, after all the litigation over the illegal detentions, only one person has been paid.
“Why isn’t anybody coming forward? I would like to know the answer to that question. It’s not gloating. I’m not gloating,” said Arpaio, who insisted he wasn’t responsible for causing the fund to be created.
Kathy Brody, one of the American Civil Liberties Union attorneys leading the profiling case against the sheriff’s office, said the claims from the 12 people whose claims are considered payable would total about $150,000 if approved.
Brody said she and others involved in the case suspect victims aren’t coming forward because they fear that doing so will lead to their deportation.
“He (Arpaio) has never shown any respect for the rights of these people and any concerns they have, so I am not surprised that this is his view,” Brody said.
Arpaio was accused of prolonging the patrols to boost his 2012 re-election campaign. He was later convicted of criminal contempt of court for violating the court order, though a pardon by President Donald Trump spared Arpaio a possible jail sentence. He lost the 2016 sheriff’s race.
Taxpayers in metro Phoenix remain on the hook for compensation for the illegal detentions made during the patrols between late December 2011 and May 2013.
Lawyers involved in the profiling case and a firm running the claims process have worked with community organizations and foreign consulates offices in hopes of finding victims. A group in Mexico has reached out to news organizations to publicize the compensation efforts.
The attorneys also watched traffic-stop videos and pored over arrest and other police records. They also did interviews with news organizations.
Follow Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud.