Last month, Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, asked the federal judge who found him in criminal contempt of the court to toss his conviction. On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus brief siding with the former sheriff.
Arpaio was convicted in July for disobeying a 2011 court order to stop the practice of detaining individuals he suspected had immigrated to the country illegally. Arpaio faced up to six months in jail, but he was pardoned in August by President Donald Trump before he could be sentenced.
While the pardon ensures that Arpaio will face no punishment, vacating the conviction is "a matter of clearing his name," his lawyers explained. They argued that now that Arpaio has no legal means to get his conviction overturned—the presidential pardon renders his cased resolved in the eyes of the law, and no court will hear a resolved case—his conviction must be thrown out. The DOJ agrees.
"A pardon issued before entry of final judgment moots a criminal case because the defendant will face no consequences that result from the guilty verdict," the brief states. "Accordingly, the government agrees that the Court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot."
While the DOJ's statement documents the agency's interest and position on the case, it does not necessarily have any effect on the outcome. A hearing is scheduled with United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton, who found Arpaio guilty earlier this year, on October 4th. In the meantime, Arpaio is considering a run for public office, which may entail challenging Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.