United States v. County of Maricopa, No. 15-17558 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The proper standard for determining which employees have the power to establish an entity's "official policy" under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 34 U.S.C. 12601 is the standard that governs under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government in an action brought to halt racially discriminatory policing policies concerning traffic stops instituted by Joseph Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. The panel held that Arpaio acted as a final policymaker for the County; the County was liable for violations of Title VI and section 12601 stemming from its own official policies; and Arpaio adopted the racially discriminatory traffic-stop policies at issue, he acted as a final policymaker for the County, and the district court correctly held the County liable for the violations of Title VI and section 12601 caused by those policies. The panel also held that the district court properly applied issue preclusion to bar the County from relitigating the lawfulness of Arpaio's traffic-stop policies in light of prior adverse findings in Melendres v. Arpaio, 695 F.3d 990 (9th Cir. 2012).