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Judge Refuses To Toss Out Joe Arpaio's Guilty Contempt Verdict After Trump's Pardon

The president's pardon "does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings," a federal judge ruled.

Originally posted on
Updated on

A federal judge on Thursday refused to toss out the underlying guilty verdict in former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal contempt case in the wake of President Trump's pardon of the sheriff.

"The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed," US District Court Judge Susan Bolton wrote. "It did not, however, 'revise the historical facts' of this case."

Arpaio had been found guilty of criminal contempt for repeatedly refusing to halt a policing tactic to catch undocumented immigrants despite court orders to do so. He had not, however, been sentenced when Trump issued the pardon in August.

After he received the pardon, Arpaio asked the court to dismiss his case and to vacate all of the earlier orders in the case — including his guilty verdict. Although the Justice Department, for the most part, sided with Arpaio in his request, other parties filed briefs detailing why they believed his request should not be granted. Bolton had let it known that she was uncertain if she could go as far as Arpaio sought, asking in September for additional briefing in the case.

Bolton earlier agreed to dismiss the case, but held off her opinion on whether the earlier orders also would be vacated. In Thursday's order, Bolton denied his request that she do more than dismiss the case.

As to the effect of a presidential pardon, Bolton explained, "It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings," citing a prior case from the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit — where an appeal of Arpaio's request would be heard.

UPDATE

Lawyers for Joe Arpaio filed a notice late Thursday that they are appealing Bolton's order to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.


Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.

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