Civil Trial Against Joe Arpaio Begins

Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, left, Capt. Steve Whitney, middle, and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, right, arrive for a news conference to discuss the latest in the document release on Arpaio's office's handling of many sexual assault cases over the years in El Mirage, Ariz. Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, in Phoenix.

A civil trial against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s anti-illegal immigration patrols began Thursday—and many consider it a prequel to the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Arpaio. Although the Justice Department is not involved in Thursday’s case, a lawyer from agency’s civil rights case watched the trial. In the current case, a group of Latinos have sued Arpaio for violating civil rights by racially profiling them. They are not seeking any monetary damages—they want a statement from Arapio’s office that their rights were violated and a requirement that the alleged discriminatory policies will be changed.