AZCENTRAL.com — Michael Kiefer and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 6:07 p.m. MT Aug. 29, 2017
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton canceled former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s upcoming sentencing hearing for his criminal contempt-of-court conviction, telling attorneys not to file replies to motions that were pending before his recent presidential pardon.
However, Bolton on Tuesday stopped short of throwing out the conviction based solely on Arpaio’s request. Instead she ordered Arpaio and the U.S. Department of Justice, which is prosecuting the case, to file briefs on why she should or shouldn’t grant Arpaio’s request.
Arpaio’s attorneys asked Bolton on Monday to vacate Arpaio’s conviction in light of President Donald Trump’s Friday pardon.
Bolton has scheduled oral arguments on the matter for Oct. 4, the day before Arpaio was supposed to be sentenced.
There is case law that says a pardon implies an admission of guilt, and that will have to be argued in open court.
Mark Goldman, one of Arpaio’s attorneys, said, “We look forward to the hearing, and hope that the court will make the appropriate ruling. The verdict should have been set aside by the court already and prior to the pardon for the reason that it was never delivered to Sheriff Arpaio in open court, but instead sent to his attorneys via email, thus violating his constitutional rights to a public trial and to participate in his trial.”
Arpaio’s attorneys on Monday also called on media companies that have inaccurately reported the nature of Arpaio’s criminal conviction to issue corrections “in a manner comparable to that of the original publication.” In a statement, his attorneys noted the ex-sheriff “was not convicted for ‘racial profiling,’ ” noting the conviction “had nothing to do with race.”
“It’s not just TV, it’s elected officials,” Arpaio told The Arizona Republic Monday. “You’ve got one guy here … calling me a racist, calling the president a racist. You’ve got others saying I was charged of racial profiling. That’s untrue … and my lawyer is concerned with these derogatory, slanderous statements that are going around.”
“This motion is made on the grounds that on August 25th, 2017, the president of the United States of America issued a full and unconditional pardon of defendant,” the motion read. “The president’s pardon moots the case, and it warrants an automatic vacatur of all opinions, judgments, and verdicts related to the criminal charge.”
‘Hopefully this will just put this to rest’
Goldman told The Arizona Republic Arpaio will appeal if the judge does not vacate all decisions in the case.
“We don’t know if the court will,” he said. “And if they don’t, we’ll be appealing, but hopefully this will just put this to rest.”
Goldman said Arpaio spent the weekend fielding calls from reporters and supporters, and watching how news of his pardon was playing out on local and national news – including the Sunday morning political shows. Goldman said several media outlets have inaccurately reported that Arpaio was convicted of racially profiling Latinos during his immigration operations.
Arpaio was convicted of disobeying a judge’s order to stop enforcing immigration, which was never a job mandated by state statutes for a county sheriff.
The underlying claims were in a civil lawsuit pursued by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging racial profiling. Arpaio and his office lost. The allegation of criminal contempt came from a judge, not the U.S. Department of Justice, though the judge asked Justice to prosecute it.
“He was extremely distressed with the mischaracterization of the conviction,” Goldman said. “It was extremely hurtful and upsetting to him that it was being reported that he was convicted of racial profiling.”
“The sheriff is not a racist and has never been a racist, and any type of such accusation was upsetting and extremely distressing to him,” Goldman said.
But judging from letters to the editor, social-media posts and the press releases of activist groups, no one has changed sides in their support or opposition to the controversial former sheriff because of the pardon. If anything, it has only raised the volume of their voices.
“No matter how he tries to cover up the words, racial profiling was the underlying cause in both the civil and criminal charges,” said Mary Rose Wilcox, a Latino-rights activist and former longtime county supervisor.
Kim Nalder, professor of political science at California State University-Sacramento, said misreporting by the media of Arpaio’s conviction threatens to deepen mistrust of the media.
“It’s key that the details be very particular,” she said. “In this case, there may be a blurring of the lines between ‘contempt of court’ and ‘convicted for racist conduct.’ ”
Nalder said the press must be accurate or else “people who are already dismissive of the coverage … could consider the media ‘fake news,’ ” a popular Trump label of the media.