Judge rejects motion to clear former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's conviction

President Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio
President Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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Story highlights

  • Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's request was aimed at clearing his name
  • Presidential pardon spared Arpaio from a criminal contempt sentence

(CNN)A federal judge on Thursday rejected Joe Arpaio's request to erase a criminal contempt conviction from his record, saying a presidential pardon of the former sheriff didn't change the facts of the case.

Arpaio, the former top lawman in Maricopa County, Arizona, for more than two decades, was spared a jail sentence when he was pardoned by President Donald Trump in August after being convicted of criminal contempt.
The 85-year-old was accused of violating a court order in a 2007 racial profiling case by continuing patrols targeting immigrants. The former sheriff claimed the court wasn't clear and he didn't intend to violate it.
    Soon after the President's pardon, Arpaio's attorneys filed a motion seeking to erase all record of the conviction, but U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton denied the request.
    "The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping," Bolton wrote in the document. "To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction."
    "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," she wrote.
    Bolton handed down a guilty verdict in the former sheriff's criminal contempt case in July. Arpaio, who lost a bid for his seventh term in 2016, faced up to six months in jail. Sentencing was set for October 5.
    Jack Wilenchik, one of Arpaio's attorneys, said they plan to appeal Bolton's order.
    "The sheriff views it as a form of resistance to the President's pardon, and I view it as a resistance to the law," Wilenchik told CNN late Thursday.
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    Wilenchik explained there is legal precedence that says the judge has to vacate the rulings in the case because it was pardoned.
    "We think the law is very clear and think it will be interesting to see what the government decides since they have already agreed with us on this case," he said.
    The former sheriff was a vocal proponent of Trump's candidacy, and used his national platform to advocate for Trump's similarly aggressive stance on deportations and border security.
    The President's pardon drew an outcry from civil rights groups, which accused the former sheriff of violating the constitution in his crackdown on illegal immigration.