- A federal judge has refused to vacate ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s criminal conviction.
- Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald Trump in August after being convicted of criminal contempt over violating a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.
- Arpaio’s attorneys have appealed the judge’s ruling to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
A federal judge on Thursday declined to throw out the guilty verdict from a criminal case against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in August.
US District Judge Susan Bolton said in her ruling that a presidential pardon may have granted Arpaio mercy, but not the power of “judicial record-keeping.”
“The pardon undoubtedly spared defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed,” Bolton wrote. “It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case.”
Arpaio was convicted in July of criminal contempt over violating a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, but was pardoned before his scheduled sentencing. Arpaio has vowed to fight Bolton’s ruling, telling Capitol Media Services that the issue is “not going to be dropped.”
A presidential pardon does not remove a criminal conviction.
Arpaio’s attorneys have already appealed Bolton’s decision to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. One of his lawyers, Jack Wilenchik, has argued that should the conviction be allowed to stand, it could be used against Arpaio in a future civil or criminal case.
In her ruling, Bolton wrote that the purpose of a pardon was not to wipe a defendant’s record clean or “blot out guilt,” but to prevent further punishment for the crime and restore the his or her civil rights.
“It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings,” she wrote. Instead, a pardon implies that the defendant did indeed commit a crime, and accepting a pardon is therefore “a confession of it.”
Arpaio’s pardon has been fraught with controversy — Trump had made the unusual move of granting it before Arpaio had even been sentenced, and it bypassed the typical Justice Department process. Pardons are usually requested through formal applications submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney at least five years after the applicant is sentenced.
Arpaio, an 85-year-old who called himself America’s “toughest sheriff,” is best known for illegally detaining Latinos in Maricopa County, where he reigned for roughly two dozen years. He has been sued by citizens and the Justice Department for his actions against Latinos.
He was notoriously tough towards inmates, making headlines for calling his “Tent City” jail a “concentration camp,” as well as for making the inmates there wear pink underwear, eat only two meals a day, and endure unbearably hot temperatures in the summer.
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