Federal judge: pardon sets Joe Arpaio free, but he's still guilty

Sheriff Joe Arpaio accepted a presidential pardon for his crime, then tried to have the verdict overturned. That isn't how it's going to works, says U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton, who refused to erase the criminal's conviction.

Bolton said the pardon only freed Arpaio from possible punishment. In a four-page order offering a check on the president's executive power, Bolton wrote that a pardon could not erase the facts of the case.

"The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping," Bolton wrote in the decision. "To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction. The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt."

The president issued the pardon, and Arpaio was spared "from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed," the judge wrote. "It did not, however, 'revise the historical facts' of this case."

Arpaio, famous for his racism and brutal treatment of prisoners and critics, was finally convicted after disobeying a court's order that he stop racially profiling suspects. President Trump pardoned him in August, before he spent any time inside.