A judge rebuffed former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s request to expunge his criminal conviction for unlawfully detaining individuals based on suspicions of their legal status after President Donald Trump pardoned him in August.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled Thursday that the pardon wasn’t a reason to erase Arpaio’s guilty verdict.
“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping,” she wrote. “The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt. The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, revise the historical facts of this case.”
Arpaio’s attorneys filed an appeal on Thursday.
“The sheriff views it as a form of resistance to the president’s pardon, and I view it as a resistance to the law,” one of the lawyers, Jack Wilenchik, told CNN.
In July, Arpaio and his department were found guilty of violating a 2011 court order by stopping and detaining drivers based on suspicions about whether they were in the country illegally. Trump issued the presidential pardon before Arpaio could be sentenced, saying the notorious sheriff had provided “admirable service to our Nation.”
The self-described “America’s toughest sheriff” adopted draconian and unorthodox practices when he was elected in 1993. These included forcing Latino inmates ― in a jail he called a “concentration camp” ― to march to a segregated area. Almost 160 people died in Arpaio’s jails, the Phoenix New Times found. Many killed themselves. Arpaio’s office also failed to investigate hundreds of sex abuse cases.
His officers also used racial slurs and derogatory phrases that included “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans” and “stupid Mexicans,” the Justice Department found.