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Melendres Racial Profiling Case Continues Under Penzone

Federal Courthouse
Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
file | staff
The Federal Courthouse in Phoenix.

Plaintiffs and defendants in the Melendres racial profiling case met for a status conference in federal court on Thursday. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office updated the court on its attempts to come into compliance with the judge’s orders.

Addressing Judge Murray Snow, Sheriff Paul Penzone said the most sobering moment of his first days in office was reading his name on the court docket: Melendres and the United States v. Paul Penzone.

Penzone inherited the case from his predecessor, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is being tried for criminal contempt for disobeying Snow’s orders.

Snow heard what steps are being taken by the new sheriff’s administration to come into compliance.

Andre Segura is a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents a plaintiff in the case. He says they're working with the department on a holistic review of deputy performance to combat continued racial profiling.

"If there is something that is causing their implicit bias, then we need to identify that and come up with some concrete, constructive steps so that it doesn’t turn in an actual problem," Segura said.

Snow said he would work with the new administration under a presumption of good faith as long as the sheriff continues to demonstrate compliance with his orders.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.