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Updated Jan 17, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Arpaio's lawyers seek more latitude in DOJ suit

PHOENIX -- Attorneys for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are asking a judge for more latitude in gathering information and deposing witnesses in a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that alleges the police agency has racially profiled Latinos.

The sheriff's lawyers said in a court filing Wednesday that the Justice Department has proposed a pre-trial plan that doesn't let Arpaio's office pose more than 25 key factual questions in the case's information-gathering phase and limits the number of witnesses that they can depose to 30.

Arpaio's lawyers said the Justice Department's stance would put the sheriff at a severe disadvantage in defending his office.

The Justice Department's pre-trial plan noted that Arpaio's lawyers want to pose more written questions than normally allowed under federal rules, but noted that both sides haven't agreed on the number of additional questions.

The Justice Department said an increase in the number of questions allowed may not be necessary.

The federal agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The sheriff's office has denied the lawsuit's allegations that Arpaio's deputies racially profiled Latinos in its regular traffic and special immigration patrols and that his office retaliates against its critics and punishes Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish.

A similar lawsuit filed by a small number of Latinos who alleged racial profiling in Arpaio's immigration patrols was tried this summer by a federal judge. That judge hasn't yet issued a ruling.

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