Sheriff Joe Arpaio will retain the stain of having been convicted of contempt of court, even though President Trump’s pardon means he won’t face any punishment, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Susan R. Bolton, who convicted Mr. Arpaio earlier this year, said that because the former sheriff had a choice of either accepting Mr. Trump’s pardon or continuing to fight his conviction in an appeals court. She said because he accepted the pardon, he was in essence admitting his guilt.
“Indeed, a pardon ‘carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it,'” Judge Bolton wrote in a four-page ruling that deals a blow to Mr. Arpaio.
The lawman had argued that he had a number of objections to the conviction, and he had asked Judge Bolton to set aside her judgment and give him a new trial with a jury — which she had denied him the first time. Mr. Arpaio had also signaled he was considering an appeal.
Mr. Trump’s pardon in August — the first of his tenure — short-circuited those requests.
Mr. Arpaio, who served a quarter-century as sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, says because he wasn’t able to appeal, his conviction was never final, so all of the proceedings should be struck from the record.
His case drew attention from across the country, with liberal legal scholars, immigrant-rights activists and members of Congress demanding to be included in the case as opponents to Mr. Arpaio.
They urged Judge Bolton to reject Mr. Trump’s pardon, saying courts have the power to refuse to accept pardons when it involves contempt issues, since that’s an internal court matter.
Judge Bolton didn’t go that far, but said she wouldn’t grant Mr. Arpaio’s wish to clear the record altogether.
“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,” she wrote.
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