(UPI) — Despite public and legal opposition to President Trump’s pardoning of Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., the Department of Justice has formally endorsed the move.
On Monday, the DOJ filed court papers requesting the criminal conviction against Arpaio be negated and the case dismissed.
Because the president pardoned Arpaio before the judgement and sentencing, or before the appeals process could play out, DOJ officials said the ex-sheriff should not face legal consequences.
“The government agrees that the court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot,” DOJ lawyers wrote in Monday’s filing.
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in July after he continued to racially profile and detain immigrants without cause, despite a federal court order to stop the practice. Arpaio lost his bid for re-election in 2016.
After Trump pardoned Arpaio in late August, Arpaio’s lawyer requested the judge to reverse the conviction and throwout the case. The judge declined to throw out the case or respond to Arpaio’s requests until an appeals hearing on the matter scheduled for Oct. 4.
“My only reaction is that the law is clear on it, and the court has an obligation to follow the law,” said Jack Wilenchik, Arpaio’s attorney. “If not for the pardon, we would have appealed this and obtained a jury and acquittal, but at this point, the case is moot, and we have no ability to do that.”
A pair of legal advocacy groups have filed amicus briefs in the case, claiming the president’s pardon of Arpaio was unconstitutional and undermines the power of the federal court system.
A recent poll by NBC News found most Americans and a majority of Arizonians oppose the president’s pardoning of Arpaio.
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