PHOENIX - Lawyers for Maricopa County are asking a federal district court to honor the County’s right to represent itself in a 2007 class action lawsuit alleging discriminatory policing by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The County was dismissed from the suit in 2009, but in a ruling last April the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the County added as a Defendant in the case, Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, et al vs. Joseph M. Arpaio.
In a motion filed with the Arizona District Court today, the County noted: “This Court has repeatedly raised questions in status conferences and hearings as to whether the County has the right to participate as a separately represented party with all the rights normally accorded to party litigants.” Specifically, the County is asking the court for full recognition of its rights as a party to the case, including the right to present evidence, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, to have independent representation and to assert its own legal positions irrespective of their consistency with other parties to the case.
The County has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s order adding it to the Melendres case.
“While we believe the Ninth Circuit erred in ordering the County to be joined again as a Defendant in this case, as long as we are a party the County is entitled to be treated fairly and to exercise the rights of a litigant as any other party,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.