formerly known as Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio

The timeline above will take you through the Melendres case, its major milestones, and how we’ve fought to hold MCSO accountable.  

In the early 2000’s, Arizona became ground zero for xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies. One of the main drivers of discriminatory policies was the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). MCSO policies allowed sheriff’s deputies to engage in unconstitutional and abusive behavior such as unlawfully targeting Latino drivers for traffic stops solely based on their race, ethnicity, and perceived immigration status. These racially motivated traffic stops resulted in prolonged stops and baseless detentions that had a devastating impact on Maricopa County’s Latino community.  

In 2008, the ACLU of Arizona, the ACLU, MALDEF, and Covington and Burling, LLP, joined a class-action lawsuit against the MCSO Sheriff, MCSO, and Maricopa County challenging these policies and practices. The Plaintiffs in the case include Latino community members who were unlawfully stopped by MCSO and the organization, Somos America. Following a three-week trial in 2012, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs and found that the Sheriff and MCSO were violating the constitutional rights of Latinos in Maricopa County.  

The court ordered that MCSO meet certain requirements and comply with mandated compliance efforts. A court-appointed monitor was selected to oversee these efforts. When it was discovered that the Sheriff and MCSO were blatantly ignoring the court order, a judge found former MCSO Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his top deputies in criminal contempt. Two months later, President Trump issued a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio. 



Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Covington and Burling LLP


United States District Court



Case number