A federal judge is pumping the brakes on former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s bid to have his criminal-contempt conviction scrubbed following a presidential pardon, three days after prosecutors said they supported the defense’s effort.
In a Thursday filing in federal court, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ordered Department of Justice prosecutors to lay out what legal grounds back their position.
A pardon traditionally affects a defendant’s sentence, not the underlying criminal record.
But after President Donald Trump’s Aug. 25 pardon, Arpaio’s attorneys filed a motion to throw out the contempt verdict and dismiss the case.
DOJ prosecutors seemed to agree with their onetime adversaries in a Monday response.
They argued that because the pardon was issued before Arpaio was sentenced, the verdict is moot and the case should be dismissed.
But Bolton’s order pointed out case law that suggests that a conviction remains intact, even after a presidential pardon.
Citing Nixon vs. United States (federal judge Nixon, not the former president), she wrote, “The granting of a pardon is in no sense an overturning of a judgment of conviction by some other tribunal; it is an executive action that mitigates or sets aside punishment of a crime.”
“The Government’s Response does not sufficiently address this issue,” Bolton wrote. “Therefore, supplemental briefing is appropriate.”
She ordered DOJ attorneys to respond by Sept. 21, “addressing the extent to which vacatur should be granted, if at…
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