- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A federal judge officially accepted President Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Wednesday, rejecting the demand of Democrats and anti-Trump lawyers who wanted the pardon ignored, but put off a decision about whether to expunge his conviction from the record altogether.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton had convicted Mr. Arpaio in July for criminal contempt of court, saying he willfully ignored another judge’s order to stop a program that targeted Hispanics for traffic stops, turning over any illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

The former lawman was fighting Judge Bolton’s decision, asking her for a retrial and promising an appeal, when Mr. Trump short-circuited the issue with his pardon.

Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers said not only did the pardon save him from six months’ jail time, but since it also came before the verdict was final or they had a chance to appeal, the judge should expunge the conviction itself from his record.

The Justice Department sided with Mr. Arpaio, saying the president’s pardon should end the matter and agreeing the conviction should be expunged.

Judge Bolton has now agreed on the first point, but said she’ll rule eventually on the second.

A number of Trump opponents — including congressional Democrats, immigrant-rights activists and prominent legal scholars — had demanded to intervene in the case saying the pardon should be invalidated and the conviction enforced.

They questioned whether a president could even issue a pardon for contempt of court, saying that trampled on the judiciary’s powers to police its courtrooms.

“The pardon here is an intentional usurpation of the court’s authority by the president,” some 30 Democrats argued in a 15-page brief.

Judge Bolton on Wednesday allowed the anti-Arpaio briefs to be admitted in the case, though she rejected their arguments.

Mark Goldman, one of Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers, said he appreciated Judge Bolton accepted the pardon and dismissed the case, but said she should have done it months ago “instead of allowing Sheriff Arpaio to twist in the wind for six weeks.”

And he was stunned that she allowed Democrats and other anti-Arpaio and anti-Trump activists to attempt to intervene in a criminal case, saying that was “unheard of.”

He said under that precedent, members of Congress could attempt to intervene in other criminal trials — including even the trial of one of their own. Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, is currently on trial on corruption charges.

“Why can’t they intervene in that case now?” Mr. Goldman asked.

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