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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The federal case against a North Carolina sheriff accused of illegally targeting Latino drivers is headed to trial.

U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder ruled Friday that the civil lawsuit against Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson can proceed.

The U.S. Justice Department accused Johnson of violating the constitutional rights of citizens and legal residents by detaining and arresting Latinos without probable cause. Among the government's claims is that Johnson ordered special roadblocks in neighborhoods where Latinos live, during which those with brown skin were stopped while whites were waved through.

Schroeder tossed one aspect of the government's case, ruling that Johnson did not violate the rights of drivers by using checkpoints for general law enforcement purposes unrelated to any alleged targeting of Latinos.

Johnson is seeking re-election in November.

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