In late August, we covered the attempts of certain leftist interest groups to challenge the pardon granted former Sheriff Joseph Arpaio by President Trump.
Media and activist Trump-Derangement-Syndrome types like Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post gave credence to the arguments against a pardon, but there never was any there there, as I wrote in Overblown hype about Court scheduling oral argument in dismissal of Arpaio conviction.
And so it has come to pass. Yesterday the Judge upheld the pardon. The electronic docket has only this short form Minute Entry (pdf.)(full embed at bottom of post), referring to reasons stated on the record:
For the reasons stated on the record, the Court finds that the pardon is valid.
Argument held on Defendant’s motion [to vacate all prior Orders in the case].
IT IS ORDERED that this action for criminal contempt is dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED taking under advisement whether the Court will enter any further orders.
Defense counsel Goldman asks the Court to explain why it granted the Motions for Leave to File Amici Curiae
Briefs and whether the Court will consider sanctions against the individuals who filed the amicus briefs and states
that Defendant should be entitled to attorneys’ fees incurred in responding to the briefs. The Court stated that
such a request would be considered if a motion were filed.
Since the transcript is not yet available, I have to rely on news reports for the Judge’s reasoning. The Arizona Republic reports:
The judge called criminal contempt “an offense against the United States,” and she remarked that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will “escape punishment for his willful violation” of a court order.
But in the end, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton determined Wednesday that she had no choice but to validate Arpaio’s Aug. 25 pardon by President Donald Trump and throw out the finding of guilt in his criminal contempt case because he had not yet been sentenced and was not afforded an opportunity to appeal the verdict.
Arpaio’s attorneys asked during a Wednesday morning hearing in Phoenix that all of the rulings during the contempt proceedings be discarded. Bolton has taken that request under advisement.
Arpaio did not attend the hearing. When reached at home by telephone, he said he had not yet spoken to his attorneys.
But his response was in classic Arpaio style:
“I’m happy the conviction was dismissed, especially since I am not guilty,” he told The Arizona Republic, “and I will be addressing that issue in the near future.”
And though that statement hinted at retribution, Arpaio would not let on what he had in mind.
That the court took “under advisement” the request to vacate all prior Orders in the case (as opposed to just the conviction) is not surprising. While the validity of the pardon was crystal clear, whether it requires vacating everything that has happened in the case so far is less clear (though I think it does). NPR reports on that issue:
The judge is considering a request from Arpaio to throw out the ruling that explains his guilty verdict. In the ruling, Bolton cited television interviews and news releases in which the sheriff made comments about keeping up the patrols, even though he knew they were no longer allowed.
Arpaio’s attorneys have said the requests are aimed at clearing Arpaio’s name and barring the ruling’s use in future court cases as an example of a prior bad act. “This is a matter of basic fairness,” said Arpaio attorney Jack Wilenchik.
Perhaps there’s a hint of one part of the retribution, the request during the hearing for permission to file a motion against the groups and individuals who filed Amicus Briefs arguing the court should reject the pardon. The Judge said she’ll rule on that when such a motion is filed.
Though that’s not much of retribution, since those groups are well-funded, and there are plenty of donors to cover any attorney’s fees against individuals.
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