A federal judge in Maricopa County Arizona threw out a lawsuit to abolish the county’s Spanish-language DUI courts. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas argued that the Spanish DUI programs were unconstitutional. Thomas claimed that defendants in a Spanish-language DUI program who violate the terms of their probation consistently get shorter jail sentences than defendants in the general population. In his opinion, the Judge found that Thomas had no right (‘standing’) to bring the suit because he was not a party to any action in a DUI court.
Thomas plans to appeal the issue to the US Supreme Court if necessary. A spokesman for Thomas said that “This was a technical ruling. It’s not a decision on whether race-based courts are legal. We object to it because it creates unequal courts and that is unfair to everyone.”
The DUI “courts” in question are not courts, but actually probation programs for defendants who have already been convicted of felony DUI and have spent four months in prison. In DUI court, a judge and probation officers review the defendant’s performance in seeking treatment and complying with their probation.
The DUI courts are conducted in Spanish and English, with special provisions for Native Americans.