Gage Skidmore / Flickr joe arpaio...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Only days after Gold Star family attacker Donald Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on August 25, the sheriff’s attorneys filed a motion to erase Arpaio’s criminal conviction from the history books:

“The President’s pardon moots the case, and it warrants an automatic vacatur of all opinions, judgments, and verdicts related to the criminal charge,” Arpaio’s attorneys said in their Aug. 28 motion.

This past July Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to end his racist policies after being directed to do so by the court.

For nearly a quarter century the bigoted blowhard and his deputies detained and arrested innocent people, indicted judges and lawmakers, harassed journalists, tortured and killed inmates, ran an illegal slush fund, ignored child sex crimes, misspent millions on tanks and shit, spied on enemies, cost taxpayers more than $140 million in settlements for his illegal actions and in general acted like a dictatorial shitheel. 

Still, it was a relatively common Arpaio practice—unlawfully stopping brown drivers—that led to his downfall. The 2007 traffic stop of Manuel de Jesús Ortega Melendres, who was in the country legally, ended in a 2013 conviction of Arpaio for racial profiling Hispanics. The court then ordered him to end his bigoted practices—specifically his raids of minority neighborhoods and businesses. He didn’t, he even flaunted his independence and continued his racist BS.

Bad idea, which led to this summer’s criminal conviction for ignoring the court, a verdict that could have led to jail time. Enter Trump, the sheriff’s birther brother, with his ludicrous pardon, which, by accepting, Arpaio admitted guilt. But while Arpaio’s attorneys and Trump’s DOJ argued that the presidential pardon cancels the sheriff’s criminal conviction, US District Judge Susan Bolton ruled today that the only thing the pardon vacates is the penalty. The record stands:

In her ruling, Bolton said while Trump’s pardon “undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case.”

Judge Bolton’s ruling means more than maintaining the historical record; it means more than always appending “convicted criminal” to every Arpaio story. Even Arpaio’s attorney recognizes that the conviction “could hypothetically be used against him in future legal proceedings.”  

One can hope.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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