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Thread: Justice Department: Trump pardon merits nullifying rulings in Arpaio case

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    Justice Department: Trump pardon merits nullifying rulings in Arpaio case

    Justice Department: Trump pardon merits nullifying rulings in Arpaio case

    09/21/2017 02:41 PM EDT

    Former sheriff Joe Arpaio is entitled to have the guilty verdict and all rulings in his criminal contempt of court case formally nullified by the court as a result of the pardon President Donald Trump issued last month, the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday.

    Responding to a request from U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, federal prosecutors acknowledged that there is no legal precedent that squarely answers the question of what should happen when someone receives a pardon after a verdict is reached (in this case by a judge) but before the conviction is officially entered.

    In July, Bolton found Arpaio guilty of contempt for defying a court order requiring his deputies to stop racial profiling of Latinos. Trump pardoned the former sheriff in August, citing his long history of public service.

    Citing the pardon, Arpaio's attorneys are asking that the convictions and all orders and opinions entered in the case be vacated—in essence, canceled.

    "There is no case law directly addressing whether vacatur is appropriate under the circumstances at issue here—when a presidential pardon moots a criminal prosecution after a finding of guilt but before a judgment of conviction is entered," prosecutors wrote in their five-page submission.

    They noted that the D.C. Circuit, acting in a case of a lobbyist pardoned by President Bill Clinton, ruled that the conviction should be vacated. Prosecutors also pointed to a case the 9th Circuit ordered vacated and dismissed after the defendant committed suicide following his conviction.

    The government suggested that it would be unfair to leave the guilty verdict in place, while the pardon effectively denies Arpaio the right to appeal it.

    "Federal appellate decisions from the D.C. Circuit and the Ninth Circuit support vacatur of the Court’s verdict and dismissal of the case because the presidential pardon has mooted the case prior to completion of direct appellate review," prosecutors said.

    Several outside groups are urging Bolton to leave the guilty finding in place. Some advocates have also argued that Bolton, a Clinton appointee, should reject the pardon entirely as an unconstitutional attempt to interfere with the judicial branch.

    The Justice Department did say that Arpaio is not entitled to have the records of his trial "expunged," which would essentially render them off-limits to the public.

    "Vacatur does not alter the historical record nor entitle a defendant to expunge, alter, or seal the court record," prosecutors wrote. "No final judgment of conviction has been entered, and while vacatur is appropriate given the presidential pardon, the Court is not required to alter or expunge the underlying record."
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    DOJ backs Joe Arpaio, tells judge to erase conviction

    By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

    The Trump administration renewed its defense of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday, telling a federal judge that not only has the lawman been pardoned, but that his original conviction needs to be stripped from the record altogether.

    Justice Department lawyers conceded there’s no direct precedent for a case like Mr. Arpaio‘s, but they said in the cases that do come closest, circuit courts of appeals and the Supreme Court have indicated that vacating the conviction is appropriate, because his case was never completely finalized.

    “In this case, no final judgment of conviction has been entered,” the Justice Department said. “Vacatur is appropriate given the presidential pardon.”

    President Trump’s pardon last month has likely freed Mr. Arpaio from the danger of jail time — though some anti-Trump activists have said Judge Susan Bolton, overseeing the case, should even ignore the pardon and still put Mr. Arpaio behind bars.

    Judge Bolton hasn’t tipped her hand on those demands, but she has taken a skeptical line on Mr. Arpaio’s request that his actual conviction on a criminal contempt of court charge be tossed.

    “U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit case law suggest that a presidential pardon leaves intact the recipient’s underlying record of conviction,” she wrote last week, challenging the Trump administration to defend its position.

    She convicted Mr. Arpaio in July of contempt of court, finding he willfully ignored another judge’s order to cease a traffic-stop program that netted illegal immigrants who were then turned over to federal officers for deportation.

    His lawyers say Judge Bolton misconstrued evidence during the trial and wrongly refused his request for a jury trial.

    Mr. Arpaio’s legal team had asked her to toss out her own ruling or at the least to grant him a new trial before a jury. Barring that, Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers had said they would appeal.

    Mr. Trump’s pardon last month — the first of his tenure, granted to one of his earliest and staunchest political supporters — short-circuited all of that.

    Judge Bolton’s resistance to expunging the conviction could feed into Mr. Arpaio’s claims that the federal courts in general, and Judge Bolton in particular, have been hostile to him.

    Both Arpaio lawyers and the Justice Department say that when a person convicted of a crime dies before his appeals are exhausted, the conviction is vacated — a situation someone close to Mr. Arpaio’s situation.

    More to the point, the Justice Department said, is a 2001 case in Washington, D.C., where a pardon came while a case was pending on appeal and requests for a retrial over charges of bribery.

    President Clinton issued a pardon, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which was hearing the appeal, said the pardon not only cut short the wrangling over a new trial, but compelled the original conviction to be vacated.
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