Sheriff Joe Arpaio pardoned: Paperwork for pardoning officially filed

Posted at 12:33 PM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-29 01:59:41-04

On the heels of a presidential pardon, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants a federal judge to undo the conviction in his criminal case.

Documents filed in federal court Monday include Arpaio's official pardon, signed by President Donald Trump. The White House announced Arpaio's pardon for criminal contempt of court Friday. A pardon generally allows a person to avoid punishment for a crime without erasing the conviction itself.

FULL SECTION: Sheriff Joe Arpaio updates

Also on Monday, Arpaio's attorneys filed a request that the judge vacate the verdict in the case. They cite other circumstances where presidential pardons occurred before a case was fully adjudicated. Attorney Jack Wilenchik says without the pardon, Arpaio could have tried to overturn the verdict through a traditional appeals process. 

Arpaio's case is unusual because most presidential pardons occur years after a conviction, after sentencing and appeals are completed.

Joe Arpaio was sheriff of Maricopa County from 1993 to 2016. He was convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt last month. A judge found Arpaio intentionally violated a federal court order stemming from the 2007 Melendres civil rights lawsuit. In the Melendres case, plaintiffs complained that Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies racially profiled Latinos during a series of immigration enforcement actions.

Attorneys for Arpaio released a statement to ABC15 on Monday which read in part: 

"It is clear by his comments at the rally last Tuesday that the President of the United States believed that the Sheriff's conviction was wrongful, and that the Sheriff was convicted-as we have contended-for merely 'doing his job.' To quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the President's power to pardon 'is a part of the constitutional scheme,' and it is a check on the system. While the authority of judges must be respected, it is also not absolute. If it were, then our Constitution would not give the power that it does to juries, and to the President, to keep the system in check. Because the court refused to let this case go to a jury, then the people had to speak through their President. Appeals are not a viable option, because they can take years to resolve, and more time taxpayer money which just goes to pay lawyers-all over what would have likely amounted to no more than $5,000 fine, for a petty and non-existent crime. The Sheriff, who is eighty-five years old, is not a young man, and there is no guarantee that he would outlast the appeals. And as a law enforcement officer of over fifty years-and the longest-serving Sheriff of Maricopa County-there are more positive things that he can and should be doing for his community, than waiting for justice."