If a judge-appointed monitor is good enough to make the New York City Police Department reform its "stop and frisk" policy, then a monitor should do the trick for Maricopa County's serial racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the ACLU's big civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio.
In May, federal Judge G. Murray Snow enjoined Arpaio's deputy dawgs from racial profiling Latinos. He later ordered that both parties in Melendres come up with a proposed consent decree, detailing how the court's order will be implemented.
Today was the deadline for that proposal, so both the sheriff's mouthpiece Tim Casey and the ACLU have jointly filed a status report on their negotiations, and a 78-page proposed order, with the language opposed by the MCSO in red.
And there's a lot of red, because the MCSO opposes outright nine out of the 12 proposals from the plaintiffs, and offers counter-proposals on the rest.
"Defendants oppose the appointment of a monitor," writes Casey at one point. "If the Court were to appoint a monitor, the role and authority of such monitor must be reconciled so that the monitor's role does not supplant the elected Sheriff's authority under the Arizona Constitution and Arizona statute.
"Therefore, if the Court were to appoint a monitor, the role and authority of such monitor should be based on the terms proposed by the Defendants."
In other words, if Arpaio's going to have a babysitter, then he wants to be able to tell him or her what to do. Casey is full of it here, as usual. Monitors are common practice in such civil rights cases involving cops.
As far as the "sheriff's authority" goes, he is not a king and Maricopa County is subject to the U.S. Constitution.
And who interprets the U.S. Constitution? Federal judges. Duh.
The MCSO is also against certain limits on the questioning of passengers in vehicles, and opposes documenting the race, ethnicity and gender of the driver and any passengers during traffic stops.
Other points of contention include the ACLU's proposals for a computerized database aimed at catching "problematic behavior" by deputies, the close supervision of deputies by supervisors, and the creation of a community advisory board and more outreach to Latinos.
After all, why would the MCSO want to improve its relations with Latinos when its spent the last five or six years alienating them?
The few areas of agreement, however, are encouraging.
Casey writes that the defendants "do not oppose additional deputy training" on the application of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure and on issues of "cultural awareness."
The MCSO just doesn't want as much training, hours-wise, as we all know they really need.
The plaintiffs would like the court's order to last a minimum of five years, while the MCSO prefers a minimum of three years.
The MCSO is not even against video cameras in patrol cars, but Casey observes that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sets the MCSO's budget, so "budgetary constraints" may be beyond the control of the defendants.
Even the language of the MCSO's objection to a monitor almost concedes that a monitor may be inevitable.
In fact, at the last hearing before Snow, the judge indicated that he was inclined to appoint a monitor in Melendres.
Bottom line: Arpaio is outranked by Snow, and it will be Snow's call regarding a monitor and the other issues on the table.
So when Snow writes his final order, likely following the next hearing in Melendres on August 30, the MCSO will have to comply with it, even during Arpaio's planned appeal.
Only if the MCSO were to score a stay from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could it ignore Snow's order, and that is seen as highly unlikely.
A similar lesson was learned this week by NYC's Mayor Bloomberg, who denounced U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin's finding that the NYPD's stop and frisk policy is unconstitutional.
Scheindlin appointed a monitor to ensure that the NYPD ends its targeting of young African-American and Hispanic males.
Hizzoner can denounce the judge all he wants, and waste money on an appeal, as the MCSO wants to do in Melendres, but he and his Police Commissioner Ray Kelly must comply or risk being held in contempt.
The same will hold for Arpaio when Snow decides how his new rules will be implemented. The sheriff can pound sand to his heart's content, but actually to buck Snow would be dangerous for the aged autocrat.
Though, admittedly, I would love to see Arpaio frog-marched down to the federal courthouse by U.S. Marshals, in some of his own pink handcuffs.
Currently, the MCSO is an institution that is rotten to the core with bigotry toward the brown man. And like bigots everywhere, neither Arpaio nor the MCSO wants to change.
Which is why Arpaio and the MCSO continue to raid local businesses, arresting undocumented Latinos working as cleaning ladies, busboys, and landscapers, even after being found guilty of racial profiling by Snow.
See, Snow must be firm with our Little Lord Fauntleroy of law enforcement.
Arpaio has made his long career, in no small part, with the help of defiance, trickery and truculence toward higher authority.
He lies like he breathes and relishes confrontation.
Unless he is boxed in, scrutinized closely, and forced to comply, he will revert to his old ways, and undermine all the work that has brought him kicking and screaming to this juncture.
Which is why I have three words for Judge Snow: Make him obey.
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