A federal judge reluctantly upheld the presidential pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Wednesday, saying that Arpaio was “escaping punishment for willful violation” of a court order.
President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, 85, in August, and U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said Wednesday that she had no choice but to vacate his sentence and dismiss the guilty verdict with prejudice, meaning it can never be brought against Arpaio again, The Arizona Republic reported. Bolton was the judge that convicted Arpaio of criminal contempt in July and had previously considered vacating Arpaio’s sentence while still keeping the conviction on his record.
“I’m happy the conviction was dismissed, especially since I am not guilty, and I will be addressing that issue in the near future,” Arpaio said. “It took me 85 years to find my hero and it’s the president of the United States.”
Trump issued the pardon after Arpaio’s conviction but before his sentencing hearing, which was scheduled to take place Thursday but is now moot. Prosecutors were resigned to the fact that Arpaio’s pardon was legal, and bemoaned that justice would never be served for Arpaio.
“This prosecution is over,” prosecutor John Keller said. “The defendant will never be held accountable for his contempt of Judge Snow’s injunction.”
Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were disappointed by the ruling, as the organization was responsible for bringing the accusations of racial profiling against Arpaio and the Maricopa Police Department that ultimately culminated in his conviction.
“From our perspective, it’s very important that the findings of fact remain,” said Kathy Brody, an ACLU legal director.
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