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Arizona Sheriff Asks to Have U.S. Discrimination Suit Thrown Out

Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and its sheriff, Joseph Arpaio, seek to dismiss the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit accusing its deputies of intentionally and systematically mistreating Latinos.

The sheriff’s office should be dismissed from the complaint because it’s a “nonjural entity” that can’t be sued, lawyers for the office and Arpaio said in a filing yesterday in federal court in Phoenix. Claims that the sheriff’s law enforcement practices had a “disparate impact” on Latinos aren’t supported by statistical evidence, according to the filing.

The Justice Department sued Maricopa County, the sheriff’s office and the sheriff on May 10, accusing them of discriminating against Latinos, who it said are frequently stopped, detained and arrested on basis of their race, color or national origin. The office also discriminates against Latino inmates and retaliates against critics, the U.S. said.

Federal officials’ claim that the sheriff’s practices have a disparate impact on Latinos rely “in significant part on anecdotal allegations rather than specific statistics,” lawyers for the sheriff’s office said.

Arpaio, who has been elected five times and has served 20 years in office, said when the lawsuit was filed that President Barack Obama was going after him to court Latino voters.

Representatives of the Justice Department in Washington didn’t immediately return a call yesterday after regular business hours seeking comment on the filing

The case is U.S. v. Maricopa County, 12-00981, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

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