Appeals Court Refuses to Expunge Joe Arpaio’s Contempt Conviction After Presidential Pardon

A federal appeals court is refusing to expunge former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpario’s contempt of court conviction, after the sheriff was granted a presidential pardon by President Trump.

Such a legal move is rare if not unprecedented for the recipient of a presidential pardon. Usually federal and state court systems dismiss the convictions of people granted presidential pardon.

Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court in 2017 for refusing to change the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department’s practices after a judge mandated that the agency cease immigration raids.

Three judges of the liberal San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court upheld a ruling from a lower circuit court refusing to expunge the legal record of Arpaio’s conviction. The move sets new legal precedent for a recipient of a presidential pardon.

Arpaio was a frequent target of Eric Holder and the Obama administration, often coming under intense DOJ scrutiny for the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.

Arpaio ran for the United States Senate in 2018, coming in third in the Republican Primart behind Martha McSally and Kelli Ward. He’s now running for his old position as Maricopa County Sheriff once more at the ripe age of 87.

In any case, presidential pardons have traditionally resulted in dismissal of criminal convictions in federal and state courts. It’s hard to think of the 9th Circuit’s decision to maintain the conviction as anything more than a political slight to President Trump.

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