Testimony ends at AZ racial profiling trial - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Testimony ends at AZ racial profiling trial

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

Testimony has ended at a trial aimed at settling allegations over whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office racially profiles Latinos in its immigration patrols.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow will decide the case and didn't say when he would issue his verdict.

But the verdict won't come until after an Aug. 16 deadline for attorneys to hand in their last round of written closing arguments.

One of the last witnesses said officers acted properly in pulling over the people who brought the case to court.

Bennie Clark, a police practices expert hired by Arpaio's defense team, said he reviewed the cases in question and concluded the officers had lawful reasons to make the stops. 

Witnesses at the trial have included Arpaio, Latino motorists who said they were targeted in traffic stops because of their race and deputies who denied using race as a factor in pulling over drivers.

On Tuesday, plaintiffs' lawyers rested their case.

"Plaintiffs have proven that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office policies have both a discriminatory intent and a disparate impact on Hispanics," said the plaintiffs' counsel, Stanley Young. "We believe that the evidence justifies a finding of a violation of the U.S. and Arizona constitutions and also the federal Civil Rights Act."

Legal experts said the group of Latinos who brought the civil case have a high bar to clear to convince a judge that there was widespread discrimination in Arpaio's office.

The sheriff's immigration patrols are accused of racially profiling Latinos for stops.

Arpaio has denied the allegations, saying his deputies only make stops when they think a crime has been committed.

Defense lawyers for Arpaio and his office took the lead Tuesday. Their first course of business was to make a motion to dismiss the case, saying the plaintiffs did not present enough evidence to prove their point.

Snow denied the motion to dismiss and the trial resumed.

The defense then called their first witness, Dr. Steven Camarota, who is a statistician and researcher from the Center for Immigration Studies. He criticized data presented during day one of the trial by a plaintiff's expert that concluded Latinos were much more likely to be stopped during saturation patrols than non-Latinos.

Camarota said important data was left out of the study, which made the analysis incomplete and the conclusions inaccurate.

As the defense wrapped its first day of testimony, an MCSO deputy took the stand. He stopped one of the witnesses who claimed that he was racially profiled during a stop near Bartlett Lake.

The deputy denied ever asking that witness for his Social Security card or number - something that witness testified to - which made him believe he was being singled out because he was Hispanic.

Arpaio's office is accused of pulling over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks.

The sheriff has repeatedly denied charges that his department discriminates against Latinos and said his deputies only make stops when they think a crime has been committed.

The plaintiffs aren't seeking money and instead want a declaration stating that Arpaio's office engages in discriminatory practices and an order requiring policy changes.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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