Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was on the witness stand in the federal racial-profiling lawsuit involving his office, but it was statements Arpaio has made about illegal immigration in recent years that became the focus of the hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Arpaio took the stand shortly after 9:30 a.m. in front of a packed courtroom and complained that he was suffering from a touch of the flu. Arpaio has come down with the same ailment in the past as he prepared to give sworn testimony — most notably in last year’s hearings that resulted in the disbarment of former County Attorney Andrew Thomas — but attorneys for the plaintiffs in the racial-profiling case did not need the sheriff’s sharp memory, only his admission that he had made the statements now under attack.
Arpaio, whose testimony lasted much of the morning and part of the afternoon, finished with questioning from the plaintiffs’ side shortly before 3 p.m.
The testimony drew from interviews Arpaio gave to journalists, statements he made at public meetings and passages printed in his own autobiography. The questioning by Stanley Young, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, also focused heavily on correspondence about illegal immigration that Arpaio constantly receives from constituents, and how the sheriff responds.