Racial Justice







Federal Judge Rules MCSO Stop and Arrest of U.S. Citizen
and Legal Resident During Worksite Raid Violated 4th Amendment


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2011


CONTACT:
Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 (office) or 602-418-5499 (cell)
Elizabeth Beresford, (212) 519-7808, media@aclu.org


PHOENIX – Late this afternoon, a federal judge ruled that the arrest of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies during a worksite raid violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure. The father and son were driving down a public roadway in February 2009 when they were stopped suddenly without justification, ordered out of their truck, zip-tied, and transported to the site of an immigration raid at Handyman Maintenance, Inc. 


"For far too long, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies have carried out these worksite raids in total disregard for people’s constitutional rights.  Today’s decision should provide some comfort to citizens of Maricopa County that MCSO is not above the law,” said ACLU of Arizona Staff Attorney Annie Lai.


The ACLU of Arizona and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project filed a federal lawsuit in August 2009 on behalf of Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and his son Julio Mora, a U.S. citizen.  Represented by the ACLU and cooperating law firm Ryals & Breed of St. Louis, the Moras charge that MCSO deputies singled them out as they drove their pickup truck down a busy public road based on the color of their skin and illegally stopped them, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable seizures and guarantee of equal protection of the law.


In granting in part the ACLU’s motion for summary judgment, the U.S. District Court directly addressed the fact that deputies had no basis for stopping the Moras, ruling that: “The Fourth Amendment requires some minimal level of objective justification for making a traffic stop.”  The Court went on to find that the Moras were arrested “through a show of authority and the use of physical force” and concluded “that the warrantless arrest of plaintiffs was made without probable cause and, therefore, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
 
In addition to ruling that the Moras’ arrest was unconstitutional, the court also found that Maricopa County will be held liable for the constitutional violations. A trial is expected to be held later this year on issues related to whether the Moras’ arrest was racially-motivated, whether the three-hour detention at Handyman Maintenance was reasonable, whether Sheriff Arpaio and MCSO officers should be held individually liable, and the amount of damages that the Moras are entitled to. 


“We live in a country where the police may not abuse their power by stopping and arresting people without cause,” added Managing Attorney Cecilia Wang, of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The overwhelming evidence in this case shows that Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies had absolutely no reason to stop these two men and drag them off to the scene of an immigration raid. Today’s court ruling should serve as a warning to law enforcement officials around the country that immigration enforcement is not an excuse to violate the Constitution.”


Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Andre Segura of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, Lai and Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona, and Stephen Ryals of Ryals & Breed, P.C., of St. Louis, Missouri. 

Read the decision and complaint.

Learn more about the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project