Candidates to act as monitor for Maricopa County Sheriff's Department criticized

PHOENIX - Lawyers in the racial profiling case against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office are criticizing their rivals' recommended candidates to monitor the agency's operations to ensure it isn't making unconstitutional arrests.

A week ago, attorneys on both sides each recommended three candidates. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow will use the list of recommended prospects to select a monitor for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office to ensure it's complying with constitutional requirements and oversee the re-training of deputies.

Six months ago, Snow ruled Arpaio's office systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking the first finding by a court that the agency has racially profiled people. The judge also ruled Arpaio's deputies unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people who were pulled over.

Arpaio had opposed the appointment of a monitor, arguing it would mean every one of his policy decisions would have to be cleared through the observer and would nullify his authority. His office has appealed the racial profiling finding and the subsequent ruling that ordered the appointment of a monitor.

Attorneys who pressed the case against the sheriff's office recommended Robert S. Warshaw, former associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, former U.S. Department of Justice official Joseph E. Brann and Tim Nelson, who served as general counsel for then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The sheriff's office recommended former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir, retired Los Angeles police Command Officer Ronald C. Sanchez and retired FBI Agent Joseph R. Wolfinger.

Arpaio's attorneys objected to Nelson and a member of Brann's team, Paul Charlton, the former top federal prosecutor for Arizona who is now in private practice. The sheriff's lawyers questioned Nelson's objectivity because of his affiliation with Democratic officials who have been at odds in the past with the Republican sheriff. They also cited critical comments that Charlton has made publicly about Arpaio.

The lawyers pushing the lawsuit objected to the recommendation of Safir, saying he harbors hostility toward court-order changes at police agencies as a result of misconduct findings. They cited a commentary written by Safir in which he defended the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactic, which allows police to stop anyone deemed suspicious, and wrote that a judge's ruling in a challenge of that tactic would have had police being monitored by lawyers who know nothing about law enforcement.

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