Even if Latino plaintiffs lose in Arpaio case, they may still come out winners

LatinaLista — It’s day 2 of the trial against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio accused of using his position and his department in racially profiling Latino Arizona residents. It was reported that today’s testimony by two Latinos, who were impacted by Arpaio’s practice of conducting immigration sweeps and round-ups at certain points in the city, was extremely emotional.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio listens to one of his attorneys during a news conference in Phoenix. Arpaio is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday, July 24, 2012.

Both expressed fear to the judge and courtroom that if it happened once, it would happen again. Though the Sheriff’s own words have come back to haunt him and have been presented as evidence against him and one of his deputies has been caught in giving conflicting testimony, only time will tell if the judge believes that the Sheriff and his deputies were engaging in racial profiling.

And unlike other court cases where a jury needs to be convinced, this trial need only convince the judge. But that’s not all that is different with this trial. The Latino plaintiffs aren’t suing for any monetary damages — though it’s my opinion that they would definitely be entitled to it — all they would get if they win is “a declaration that spells out what deputies may or may not do when stopping potential suspects, and a court-appointed monitor to make sure the agency lives by those rules.”

It’s something that Arpaio has strongly resisted in the past.

If by some odd chance the judge doesn’t find fault with Arpaio, the pressure to make the sheriff comply with making his department’s practices transparent will be even greater and it may be something that the judge will require, especially in light of the discrepancies that have surfaced in the trial so far.

Yet, either way, the Latino plaintiffs will come out the winners in this case because they had their day in court and the world now knows how hard it is for this sheriff and some of his deputies to tell the truth.

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