Donald Trump‘s controversial pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio may not go through due to a US district court judge.
Judge Susan Bolton of the US District Court handling Mr Arpaio’s case has cancelled a sentencing hearing for the former Maricopa County sheriff but stopped short of throwing out his conviction.
Instead, Ms Bolton said that because a presidential pardon carries an implication of guilt she wants both Mr Arpaio’s lawyers and the US Department of Justice to submit briefs on why she should or should not vacate Mr Arpaio’s conviction.
She has scheduled oral arguments for 4 October on the matter and will make a decision at that point.
A civil suit was originally brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for Mr Arpaio’s alleged racial profiling for detaining Arizonans who looked to be of Mexican or Latin American descent under suspicion of being in the US illegally.
“The judge trying that case not only found that Arpaio’s policies constituted racial profiling, he also found Arpaio to be in civil contempt of court and referred him to [Ms Bolton] for the criminal contempt,” USA Today reported.
Ms Bolton then asked the US Attorney in Arizona to try the case for Mr Arpaio’s allegedly disobeying the order to stop the racial profiling, but that office declined. That is when the US Department of Justice stepped in.
Washington DC-based lawyer Kimberly Curtis told The Independent that a presidential pardon does not necessarily “imply” guilt in the way Ms Bolton’s decision may suggest.
However, Mr Arpaio’s case is a little more complicated. Presidential pardons only cover federal crimes, so technically Mr Trump has not pardoned his racial profiling but the alleged contempt of court charge.
“The issue with [Mr] Arapio is he was actively appealing his conviction when he was pardoned. So there is an unknown question about which takes precedence- the pardon or the appeal,” Ms Curtis said.