Criminal Justice

Federal judge upholds former Sheriff Arpaio's pardon and dismisses contempt case

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Joe Arpaio

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio/

A federal judge in Arizona has dismissed the guilty verdict in the contempt case against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio while reserving judgment on whether all former rulings in the case should be vacated.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ended the criminal case against Arpaio on Wednesday, report Politico,, the Tucson Sentinel and the Phoenix New Times. President Donald Trump had pardoned Arpaio in August.

According to the New Times, Bolton ruled the pardon was constitutional. An amicus brief submitted by University of California at Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky and two others had argued the pardon was unconstitutional.

Chemerinsky had argued a contempt conviction is not an “offense against the United States” within the meaning of the Constitution’s grant of pardon power in Article II. His brief also said the pardon violates the principle that courts have a duty to provide effective redress when a public official violates the Constitution.

Arpaio, 85, had been found guilty of contempt for violating a federal judge’s order to stop detaining citizens based only on a suspicion they were in the country illegally. He served as sheriff for 24 years before losing in the 2016 election to Paul Penzone.

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