Victims Of MCSO's Illegal Stops And Detentions Eligible For Claims

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 7:16pm
Updated: Friday, December 8, 2017 - 7:22am

People who believe they were unlawfully stopped and detained by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) now have an opportunity to claim damages from a compensation fund set up by the federal courts.

In 2016, MCSO was found guilty of violating a federal court order from the Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio lawsuit, prohibiting the Sheriff’s Office from stopping people on the basis of their race and perceived immigration status.

Over the next year, people who were stopped or held by MCSO between Dec. 23, 2011, and May 24, 2013, can claim up to several hundred dollars depending on their interaction with the Sheriff’s Office.

Minimum claims for $500 will be given to those individuals deemed to have been detained unlawfully for up to one hour, if the person was held for more than 20 minutes. Additional money will be awarded to those held longer, but the claims are capped at $10,000 per person.

As ordered by the court, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors set aside $500,000 to pay victims of the violated court order.

The county was also ordered to pay a private settlement management company called BrownGreer $200,000 on “notice and outreach to potentially eligible individuals.” Maricopa County was ordered to pay BrownGreer an additional $75,000 “in start-up fees to implement the claims processing program.”

Maricopa Board of Supervisors spokesperson Fields Moseley said it’s unclear whether or not the $500,000 will be enough to pay all of the claims.

“The county is prepared to allocate additional funds as necessary to comply with the court order,” Moseley said.

The ACLU of Arizona and Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic Bar Association, will host a clinic Saturday, Dec. 9, allowing those who think they may qualify for a claim to speak with an attorney and fill out an application.

ACLU of Arizona spokesperson Steve Kilar said this is the first clinic of many that will be held throughout the year.

“We’re certainly going to do our best to inform people that they should be applying for this money regardless of their immigration status,” Kilar said. If they have questions, he recommends people check to see if they have a valid claim. “Anyone who thinks they were stopped or held unlawfully during this time period should come forward and apply for compensation.”

Kilar said MCSO has identified 189 people that are eligible for compensation. Kilar said there could be hundreds or thousands more that have valid claims.