When President Donald Trump controversially pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in August, he was within his rights – but the pardon didn’t allow Arpaio to wipe his crimes from his record.
That’s the upshot of a ruling from Arizona judge Susan Ritchie Bolton, who on Thursday turned down Arpaio’s application to clear his record.
Arpaio had repeatedly ignored court injunctions on his racial profiling of Latino drivers in Maricopa County, violating Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. His presidential pardon—which played to Trump’s nationalist base—was always going to be contentious, but it was especially so because it came before Arpaio could even be sentenced.
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The former sheriff tried to argue that it was “only fair that the Court vacate its verdict and all other rulings in this case.” However, Bolton disagreed, pointing to an earlier case (United States v. Noonan) where the judged ruled: “The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping.”
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“To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction,” Bolton said. “The pardon undoubtedly spared [Arpaio] from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however ‘revise the historical facts’ of the case.”
According to a report in The Washington Post, Arpaio’s legal team immediately filed an appeal.