Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Taliban, Nativist Steve Camarota, and More Problems for the MCSO

See also: MCSO Sergeant Says Main Goal Is to Catch Illegal Immigrants, Contradicting Deputy Chief Brian Sands' Testimony See also: Joe Arpaio Struggles in Racial-Profiling Trial See also: Joe Arpaio Looks Like Tired, Old Racist on Stand During Racial-Profiling Trial See also: Joe Arpaio's (ahem) Legal Scholar Brett Palmer and Brian Sands Under Oath If all goes well (cross your fingers), we could have a decision in the ACLU's big racial-profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio by the end of August.

That's considering federal Judge G. Murray Snow's ruling today that he will allow closing submissions by the plaintiffs and the defendants in the case, with the first round due from both sides August 9, and responses from both sides due in August 16.

The trial itself seems headed for a conclusion either tomorrow or Thursday. So there's light in yon tunnel. Though for Arpaio, I suspect that glimmer is actually an oncoming locomotive.

Because as much as Tom Liddy of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office likes to bloviate before the TV cameras, insisting that the MCSO does not racially profile and that the plaintiffs have presented zero evidence of discriminatory policing, there is little doubt that the trial is not going the defendants' way.

Lead counsel Tim Casey looks resigned, as if the trial's conclusion is already written on his forehead and he's calculating how much to charge the county in legal fees for those written submissions.

His firm has already tucked away $755,000 on Melendres. Maybe he can push that figure past $1 million. Win or lose, it's always Casey who wins.

Not that I'd say Casey's worth a $1 million in taxpayer cash.

For example, today, after the plaintiffs rested, the defense began putting on its case. However, its witnesses did more good for the plaintiffs than for the sheriff's office.

Before I jump to those witnesses, allow me to digress a bit, and mention how the Taliban squirmed its way into this morning's court action, which featured testimony from MCSO Sergeant Manuel Madrid and from human rights activist Lydia Guzman of the activist organization Respect/Respeto.

My colleague Uriel Garcia covered ACLU attorney Cecillia Wang's expert interrogation of Madrid, but there was an amusing exchange between Liddy and Guzman during Liddy's cross-examination of Guzman, that I should relate.

Under Wang's questioning, Guzman detailed how the community responded to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Hispanic-hunting sweeps and the terror these sweeps wrought in Latino neighborhoods. Guzman was perfect for this role, as she's been involved as a leader in the effort to educate the community about the saturation patrols and document the abuses of Arpaio's boys in beige.

Guzman discussed how MCSO deputies treated white drivers and Hispanic drivers differently, how most of the arrestees she witnessed were Hispanic, and how stops of Hispanic drivers she witnessed tended to last longer.

Wang also asked her about the ski masks some of the MCSO deputies would wear, known as balaclavas.

The veteran activist described the masks as "intimidating," especially since some of the deputies were wearing tactical gear as well.

"I mean, I hate to say this but it kind of looked like something out of the Taliban," she explained. "I'm sorry, but, you know, that's what it looked like. And it was very scary."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons