Federal Judge to Maricopa County Sheriff's Office: DWB (Driving While Brown) Isn't Actually a Crime

​Apparently it takes a federal judge to tell the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that being Hispanic isn't actually illegal.

More than two years after a Hispanic father-son combo was arrested by MCSO deputies near the site of one of their infamous worksite raids, a federal judge ruled Monday that deputies violated the constitutional rights of the men.

Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident of the United States, and his son, U.S. citizen Julio Mora, were pulled over by sheriff's deputies while driving on a public roadway on February 11, 2009, during an MCSO immigration raid of a nearby landscaping company.

The Moras were ordered out of their truck, zip-tied, and transported to the site of the immigration raid, where they waited for three hours until it was determined the men were legally in the United States, according to the ruling of U.S. District Judge David Campbell.

The ACLU of Arizona and the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project filed the federal lawsuit in August 2009 on behalf of the Moras, alleging that sheriff's deputies pulled over the men's truck only because of the color of their skin -- making the traffic stop illegal and violating their Constitutional rights.

"For far too long, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies have carried out these worksite raids in total disregard for people's constitutional rights," ACLU staff attorney Annie Lai says in a statement. "Today's decision should provide some comfort to citizens of Maricopa County that MCSO is not above the law."

The defense from the Sheriff's Office, coming from attorney Tim Casey, was that because of the number of deputies involved in the raid -- more than 100 -- they couldn't identify which deputies pulled over the Moras.

"Without that, there was no testimony on why they were stopped," Casey tells the Arizona Republic. "It was lack of evidence. They won because there's no evidence on that."

Still, Campbell's judgment states that the Fourth Amendment requires "some minimal level of objective justification" in a traffic stop, but instead, sheriff's deputies arrested the Moras "through a show of authority and the use of physical force."

Meanwhile, Campbell's judgment holds Maricopa County liable for the constitutional violations -- forcing a trial to be held to determine whether the arrests were racially motivated, whether Arpaio and the arresting deputies are liable as individuals, and any monetary damages the Moras will receive.

Read Campbell's entire judgment here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley