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Somos America, sued Sheriff Arpaio, I m wondering how that came to be? Arpao didn't arrest any of the members of Somos america

San Francisco, CA |

Somos America, is a non profit group...which kinda begs the question why are they suiing in federal court if they are not 'hurt' by Arpaio's racial profiling?

also, i think Arpaio recently lost the case.

Attorney Answers 2


What you're asking about is a term that attorneys call "standing:" that is, you have to be affected by the defendant's acts in order to sue the defendant.

I don't know what Somos America claimed was sufficient to constitute its standing. Its website states that it's an organization "composed of organizations and individuals whose work encompasses issues affecting immigrant communities."

I can theorize several bases on which they could claim standing. Racial profiling causes disproportionate numbers of their members to be arrested, making their work more difficult. That's the first thing that comes to mind.

Standing doesn't require a great deal of harm to be experienced, especially when the plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief.

Thank you for your thoughtful question.

Craig T. Byrnes

Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not offering legal advice, nor forming an attorney-client relationship with you. I am not representing you, nor doing anything to protect your legal rights. If you believe that you have suffered a legal wrong, take action before any statute or limitations expires, or your right to do so may be lost forever. Good luck in your legal matter.

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Actually sir, thank you, for answering my question. I have some follow up questions. Is it typical for a federal appellate court to allow an non profit organization to slip in as a Plaintiff? Also, one of the Plaintiffs was a foreign national/tourist. Again, Is it typical for a federal appellate court to allow a tourist to sue a police department that engages in racial profiling? ( I m thinking the Roe v. Wade rationale of considering of an issue that was "capable of repetition, yet evading review") I ask this because I am a legal permanent resident and I am and look Hispanic, so the thought of being stopped and detained for not carrying my green card has crossed my mind several times. I am not an attorney but do keep track of decisions by federal appellate courts because I've been told their decisions become 'law.' I am reading that one the main plaintiffs was a Mexican citizen who was a tourist and detained for 7 or 8 hours. He and another person sued the Sheriff. Somos America kind of 'piggy backed.' The Ninth Circuit Court allowed this organization to remain as a Plaintiff as well. The rationale was that once a Plaintiff had standing to sue, the Court would not even bother to analyze if the other Plaintiffs had standing to sue, perhaps because it was a practice that negatively affected a large section of American born Hispanics. Normally I'd expect the organization to be Amici Curiae in case like this, as Mr. Osak calls it: to put their 2 cents in a controversial issue. Thanks for your time again.

Craig Trent Byrnes

Craig Trent Byrnes


I disagree that the court "would not even bother to analyze if the other Plaintiffs had standing to sue." That's just not correct. Standing is always an issue, but only if raised by the defendant. Again, I haven't read the case and I'm not really following the matter, but the 9th Circuit would not simply let it slide if the issue was properly raised before it. As for the remainder of your question, I don't know what you mean by "slip in" as a plaintiff. That might be related to your later comments. Plaintiffs have to be joined through the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; no one "slips in." The fact of them being a non-profit is irrelevant to their standing, or whether there was support within the FRCP for them to join. There is no reason a federal appellate court would disallow a tourist's right to sue a police department, any more than it would disallow anyone else's right. Tourists have more limited rights than do American citizens, but we still follow our Constitution even with respect to foreign nationals. I hope this answers your questions.


A LOT of different groups like to put their "two-cents" in where
there is a controversial or well known law suit pending. You see
the Small Business Manufacturers and MADD and others do this
all the time. Somos America wants their "views" aired re: "racial
profiling" to be known. That's why.


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