Trump pardons former sheriff Arpaio less than a month after his contempt conviction

Criminal Justice

Updated: President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday night, less than a month after the former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff was found guilty of contempt of court for violating a federal judge’s order to stop detaining citizens based only on a suspicion they were in the country illegally.

The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Associated Press have stories.

“Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service,” Trump said in a statement. “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

Arpaio told the Arizona Republic that he learned of Trump’s decision when his lawyer delivered a birthday gift to the former lawman’s wife and “the other gift was the pardon.”

Trump hinted that he would issue the pardon when he spoke at a campaign-style rally on Tuesday in Phoenix.

“So was Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job? I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK,” Trump said, according to the AP.

As part of a lawsuit, a U.S district court judge in 2011 enjoined Arpaio from holding people he believed were living here illegally and who weren’t charged with any crimes, the Washington Post reports. Still, Arpaio continued to do so, according to prosecutors, who tried him for criminal contempt in 2016.

On July 31, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton convicted Arpaio after a five-day bench trial. Arpaio, who had served for 24 years before losing in an election last year, faced up to six months in jail.

ABA President Hilarie Bass said in a statement that the ABA is disappointed that Arpaio was pardoned.

“The crime that Arpaio was convicted of committing—criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order—showed a blatant disregard for the authority of the judiciary. As a law enforcement officer who took an oath to uphold the law and respect the courts, he instead chose to substitute his own interpretation of justice.”

Arpaio thanked Trump in a series of tweets.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake–a target of Trump’s ire–fired back at the president.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Is president’s pardon power unlimited? Possible Arpaio pardon raises unusual issue”

Arizona Republic: “Taxpayer tab up to $70M in Joe Arpaio racial-profiling case”

Updated at 9:01 p.m. to include statement from Hilarie Bass; updated at 9:06 p.m. with tweets from Arpaio, Flake.


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