More than four years after it was first filed, and more than three years since the American Civil Liberties Union lodged its amended complaint in the case, the big racial profiling lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- Melendres v. Arpaio -- will finally go to trial this summer.
That is, if the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice don't come to some agreement on the same issues first.
In a hearing today, both sides in the lawsuit met to hammer out various pre-trial matters before U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow. After some dickering over dates, Snow scheduled a seven day trial to begin July 19.
Initially, Snow wanted to start the trial earlier, but Arpaio attorney Tim Casey begged off that one, telling the judge that MCSO Deputy Chief Brian Sands, a key witness, already had booked a trip to Europe beginning July 6.
Snow moved back the date, and it looks like Sands will get to see the Eiffel Tower while stuffing his concrete mug full of baguette at long last.
The judge set other ground rules, generally giving each side 20 hours to present its case. He dispensed with opening arguments, noting that there would be no jury and he was painfully familiar with all the pertinent facts.
Later, the judge asked the defense about ongoing talks between the MCSO and the DOJ, noting that an agreement between those parties could "moot all or part of this case."