Joe Arpaio Lawyers: Discriminating Against Spanish-Speakers Doesn't Violate Civil Rights

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It takes some creativity to defend this guy.
Lawyers for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio responded to the Justice Department's lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the Sheriff's Office by, not surprisingly, asking that the suit be tossed.

You would expect that answering allegations of the worst racial-profiling tactics in the country's history would require an interesting response, and Arpaio's legal team delivered on that expectation.

Perhaps most interesting is that Arpaio's lawyers contend discrimination against people who speak a certain language isn't a civil-rights violation.

"Plaintiff cannot maintain these claims because Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] does not prohibit disparate treatment based on language proficiency," Arpaio's lawyers from the Phoenix-based Jones, Skelton & Hochuli law firm write.

Those attorneys note what the exact language of the Civil Rights Act says: "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

As you may recall, the lawsuit itself focuses on discriminatory policing against Latinos, and alleges that the practices at the jails discriminate against "Latino prisoners with limited English language skills."

The lawsuit adds, though, that the discrimination was against the "limited English proficient" Latinos, but on the basis of "race, color, or national origin" -- not because they didn't speak English too well.

Arpaio's lawyers note cases in which different treatment of people with limited English proficiency didn't equal discrimination -- African immigrant high school students who claimed they were "provided fewer educational and extracurricular opportunities," and Hispanic prisoners in Washington D.C. who sued because they didn't get religious and educational programs in Spanish.

The lawsuit against MCSO is a little different.

The Justice Department alleges 21 instances in which the MCSO's handling of the language barrier violates laws, not just from the Civil Rights Act.

For example, from the lawsuit:

  • In some instances, female Latino [limited English proficient] prisoners have been forced to remain with sheets or pants soiled from menstruation because of MCSO's failure to ensure that detention officers provide language assistance in such circumstances.
  • In some instances, when a Latino LEP prisoner has been unable to understand commands given in English, MCSO detention officers have put an entire area of the jail in lockdown--effectively preventing all the prisoners in that area from accessing a number of privileges because of the Latino LEP prisoner's inability to understand English...
  • In other instances, MCSO detention officers have put Latino LEP prisoners in solitary confinement for extended periods of time because of their inability to understand and thus follow a command given in English.
  • For example, MCSO detention officers have pressured Latino LEP prisoners to sign "voluntary return" forms without proper language assistance. Once signed, these forms oblige foreign nationals to give up any right to have an immigration hearing, challenge their removal from the United States, speak with an attorney, or otherwise seek a determination permitting them to stay in the United States. Latino LEP prisoners have been compelled by MCSO detention officers to sign this form even when they have pending proceedings that may authorize their continued stay in the United States.

Meanwhile, the other hundred-plus allegations against Arpaio and MCSO don't have to do with English proficiency, and neither do the five other sections for response put together by Arpaio's team of lawyers.

Still, it somewhat answers the question of how can you possibility defend yourself against this?

You can read the entire response below, which includes a Rodney King reference:

Arpaio Response



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9 comments
NANNA
NANNA

  it must not be to bad  these dumb asses keep going back , I'm willing to bet every inmate has been in Joe's jail more than once, don't like it'  get a job  .that way you don't have to rob little old lady's in Wal-Mart's parking lot. feel like hurting a child , think of Joe's place . maybe that why he doesn't run it like a country club ahahah. make's you think don't it ? 

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

Sounds like you've got the MCSO by the balls....

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

Seriously, lay off the crystal methamphetamine...

scott huminski
scott huminski

Note: My claims relate to first amendment retaliation ONLY REPLY TO MOTION TO DISMISS                         NOW COMES, Scott Huminski ("Huminski"), and replies to the Sheriff's Motion to Dismiss as follows:             Defendants correctly analyze many counts of the Complaint as speculative and otherwise flawed.  Huminski's First Amendment claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 survive the very brief argument of the movant as Huminski is bringing the claim on his own behalf and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  Thus, critical differences between Huminski's Claims and those of the United States.  The motion to dismiss is on point  and subject to legal interpretation as to plaintiff, United States of America, but the dismissal motion fails to assert an argument or fact that would prove fatal to Huminski's claims.   Dated at Gilbert, Arizona this 9th day of June, 2012.                                                                                         ___________________________________                                                             Scott Huminski Note: Huminski's claims are based upon emails from MCSO threatening arrest/prosecution for protected expression.  MCSO does not question the authenticity of the emails.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

OSB's motion/response is from MCSO and OSB.  Did Maricopa County also file a response?  Does the County position on discriminating against Spanish speakers match the position of OSB?  

NANNA
NANNA

LEAVE JOE ALONE  CAN YOU AMAGINE WHAT AZ WOULD BE LIKE IF IT WASN'T FOR JOE   I THINK HE IS  W O N D E R F U L .

John
John

 I see your point...since others unfairly treat their inmates we should strive to meet or to beat their level abuse?  Great

LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

Joe's Gestapo Goons killed yet another Latino inmate? Here we go again Maricopa County taxpayers, get ready to cut yet another check to wipe the Old Fool's fat, flaccid, doughnut-eating ass... Come November, I'm voting the MCSO shurf OUT and a PROFESSIONAL IN...

Ed
Ed

There is no question in my mind that Arpaio has descriminated.

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