Former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his lawyers suffered a legal setback when a federal judge ruled that his guilty conviction would not be expunged, despite his receiving a presidential pardon from Donald Trump according to the Arizona Daily Star.
In her ruling, Federal Judge Susan Bolton stated
“The power to pardon is a presidential prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping.”
Apraoi’s attorneys intend to pursue the issue, however, saying that the former sheriff had planned to appeal his conviction and they believe he would have succeeded. The problem they face is that by accepting the pardon, Apraio no longer has grounds for appeal. He has, in effect, admitted his guilt, even though he will not face any legal consequences.
Judge Bolton went on to say
“The pardon undoubtedly spared defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed… It did not, however, revise the historical facts of the case.”
His attorneys are concerned, quite rightly, that a guilty conviction could be used against him in future civil or criminal charges Arpaio might face. But he had been tried and found guilty, although no sentence had been imposed due to the Trump pardon.
Arpaio appears to want to have his cake and eat it too. Had he truly believed, as his lawyers said, that his case would prevail on appeal, he could have refused to accept the pardon. But a pardon doesn’t overturn a conviction, only the judicial system can do that, it simply means the recipient faces no legal problems resulting from the conviction.
Because of the pardon, Arpaio is now free to seek public office again, and already appears to be testing those waters. In fact, he was recently the Guest of Honor at a GOP fundraising event in Fresno, California according to The Fresno Bee. But whether there is any political future for the 85-year-old Trump supporter remains to be seen.