CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

Judge Refuses to Vacate Joe Arpaio's Conviction

In August, President Donald Trump pardoned former 'America's Toughest Sheriff' Joe Arpaio following his conviction for criminal contempt. Arpaio had "willfully violated" a court order barring he and his staff from racial profiling and other forms of unconstitutional policing.

But yesterday, a federal judge in Arizona ruled that, while Trump's pardon of Arpaio may have spared him from corporeal punishment, it doesn't warrant vacating his underlying conviction. You can see the judge's ruling below:

No Revision of Historical Facts

Following his contempt conviction and subsequent pardon, Arpaio moved to vacate all the previous orders and dismiss his case with prejudice. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton declined to vacate Arpaio's conviction, noting that Arpaio accepted the pardon after the legal question of his guilt was resolved, but before a judgment of conviction was entered.

"'The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping,'" Bolton cited, adding, "To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction":

The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt. The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, "revise the historical facts" of this case.

Arpaio has already appealed Bolton's decision, arguing that the conviction could be used against him in future legal proceedings. Considering the allegations against Arpaio and his staff, future legal proceedings are fairly likely. Here's Bolton's ruling:

U.S. v. Arpaio by FindLaw on Scribd