ACLU Defendant Receives Settlement From Pinal County Sheriff's Department

By Al Macias
Published: Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 7:30pm

A federal court on Thursday awarded more than $25,000 to a Mexican woman who claimed her five-day detention at an immigration office in Arizona was an illegal arrest. The woman was stopped by Pinal County sheriff’s deputies. 

Maria del Rosario Cortes was pulled over in 2012 near Eloy, 60 miles south of Phoenix, for a cracked windshield.

Cortes, a domestic violence victim, had applied for a visa allowing her to remain in the United States to assist authorities with the case.

She told one of the officers about her visa application. Cortes said the deputy told her he wasn't interested in looking at it.

The ACLU sued on behalf of Cortes, alleging the officers violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures by prolonging the length of her stop after the original purpose was completed.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was named as a defendant along with the two deputies who made the stop. He said the settlement was a legal strategy to avoid the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would have cost to litigate.