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Phoenix sheriff loses bid to overturn racial profiling ruling (+video)

Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio and four aides face hearings Tuesday on whether they should be held in contempt of court for violating a 2011 order by a judge who barred Arpaio's immigration patrols.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks at a news conference at Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Headquarters in Phoenix in December 2013. Arpaio, known for crackdowns on illegal immigration has acknowledged that he violated federal court orders in a racial profiling case.

Ross D. Franklin/AP/File

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The sheriff for metro Phoenix on Wednesday lost a bid to overturn a 2013 racial profiling ruling that blunted his signature immigration enforcement efforts and represents the thorniest legal troubles the defiant lawman has faced in his 22-year career.

The decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals marks the latest in a long string of defeats for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the case in which his officers were found to have racially profiled Latinos.

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Arpaio and four aides face hearings beginning Tuesday on whether they should be held in contempt of court for violating a 2011 order by a judge who barred Arpaio's immigration patrols.

The sheriff has acknowledged the violation and offered to make a donation a civil rights group to make amends for disobeying court orders.

Arpaio, who voluntarily gave up his last major foothold in immigration enforcement late last year, vigorously disputes that his officers have racially profiled Latinos.

Over the past year, the judge in the profiling case has grown increasingly frustrated with the sheriff's office for mischaracterizing his profiling ruling during a training session and over what the judge said were inadequate internal investigations into wrongdoing by Arpaio's squad working immigrant smuggling cases.

The 9th Circuit upheld the previous ruling by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow that the sheriff's unconstitutional practices targeting immigrants had extended traffic stops in the Phoenix area.

The appeals court also backed Snow's requirements that Arpaio's officers video-record traffic stops, collect data on stops and undergo training to ensure they aren't acting unconstitutionally.

Arpaio's sole victory in his appeal came when the appeals court reined in a court-appointed official who is investigating misconduct at the agency.

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The sheriff's lawyers contended that Snow imposed changes on the sheriff's office that have nothing to do with the profiling case.

The court said Snow's requirement that the court-appointed official consider internal investigations and reports of officer misconduct created a problem by being unrelated to the constitutional violations found by Snow.

Arpaio didn't contest Snow's 2013 ruling on the sheriff's special immigration patrols. Instead, the sheriff appealed the judge's conclusions on only regular traffic patrols — and lost.