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Penzone Lawyers Want Judge To Deny Justice Department And ACLU Request For Contempt Hearing

Lawyers for Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone say holding a contempt hearing about the case backlog at internal affairs would take away resources needed to catch up.  

They want a federal judge to deny a joint request from the Justice Department and American Civil Liberties Union in a long-running lawsuit. 

The judge told the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to revamp internal affairs years ago. But the ACLU says the average time to finish an internal investigation has grown to roughly 550 days.

Lawyers write that the Sheriff’s Office was complying with required timelines by requesting timely extensions. But the court-ordered monitor retroactively changed their methodology last year.

Court documents say the internal affairs backlog is due to complaints outnumbering case-closures since Penzone took office. They say 209 days is the middle time for finishing probes of racial-bias complaints by Latinos and traffic stops involving them. 

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.