Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is irrefutably racist despite his rejection of the descriptor, might not be “just fine” after all. Arpaio’s attorneys requested that his conviction for contempt of court be thrown out after President Trump pardoned him last Friday, but the presiding judge denied the request, ordering his lawyers to justify the request in a filed briefing.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, who heard Arpaio’s contempt case, announced her decision on Arpaio’s request to vacate his conviction on Tuesday. And according to The Arizona Republic, Bolton “stopped short of throwing out the conviction” after cancelling Arpaio’s sentencing hearing:
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton canceled former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s upcoming sentencing hearing for his criminal contempt-of-court conviction, telling attorneys not to file replies to motions that were pending before his recent presidential pardon.
However, Bolton on Tuesday stopped short of throwing out the conviction based solely on Arpaio’s request. Instead she ordered Arpaio and the U.S. Department of Justice, which is prosecuting the case, to file briefs on why she should or shouldn’t grant Arpaio’s request.
Arpaio’s lawyers will present oral arguments on the request on Oct. 4, so it looks like he’s headed back to court. As many legal experts have pointed out, a pardon could imply an admission of guilt, which requires a debate in open court as well.
There’s also the argument that Trump’s pardon defies the Constitution since Arpaio was convicted of violating a court order that he desist racially profiling Latinos in Phoenix, AZ, where he was Sheriff. In refusing to enforce the ruling, Arpaio violated their individual constitutional rights. Ian Bassin, executive director of Protect Democracy, told The Washington Post that Bolton’s request might be an evaluation of the Justice Department attorneys’ commitment to upholding the Constitution.
“Judge Bolton may want to see how the honorable lawyers of DOJ’s public integrity section respond personally in open court, themselves as officers of the bar who’ve taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, to the blatant abuse of power by their boss,” Bassin said. “After all, these are people who’ve dedicated their lives and careers to ensuring our public officials act with integrity and Joe Arpaio and now the President of the United States have spit in the face of that.”