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. Read the rest

Trump pardons Joe Arpaio

President Donald J. Trump today pardoned the lawless racist and former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. He was found guilty of criminal contempt in a case about racial profiling. Of course he was Trump's first pardon. Read the rest

Arizona voters ditch longtime Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio, the infamously nasty sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, is losing his badge. After seven terms in office, he was finally ditched by voters in favor of a challenger, Paul Penzone. NPR reports that the incoming sheriff has a lot to do cleaning up Arpaio's scandal-ridden department.

The defeat ends a run in office that began the same year Bill Clinton first won the presidency. It comes two weeks after Arpaio, 84, was charged with criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge's order in a racial profiling case.

He talks tough, but his immigrant-hunting games and mistreatment of inmates have cost the county vast sums in settlements, writes Rebekah L. Sanders. The racial profiling case alone cost local taxpayers $15m or so in legal fees and payouts.

The case began in 2007 when Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist legally in the United States, was stopped outside a Cave Creek church where day laborers were known to gather. Melendres, a passenger in a car driven by a white driver, claimed that deputies detained him for nine hours and that the detention was unlawful.

Eventually, the case grew to include the complaints of two Hispanic siblings from Chicago who felt they were profiled by sheriff's deputies, and an assistant to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, whose Hispanic husband claimed he was detained and cited while white motorists nearby were treated differently.

This is just what they finally nailed him on; among the many "controversies" that Arpaio enjoyed, prison deaths and arrests of critics were among the many preludes. Read the rest

Arizona tried to illegally import an execution drug not approved for use in U.S.

Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug that is banned in the U.S., but the state never got the drug after federal agents halted the shipment at Phoenix airport. The Associated Press has the documents, and the resulting scoop.

Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by FDA-approved companies, the documents said. When the drugs arrived via British Airways at the Phoenix International Airport in July, they were seized by federal officials and have not been released, according to the documents.

"The department is contesting FDA's legal authority to continue to withhold the state's execution chemicals," state Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday.

Arizona and other death penalty states have been struggling to obtain legal execution drugs for several years after European companies refused to sell the drugs, including sodium thiopental, that have been used to carry out executions. States have had to change drug combinations or, in some cases, put executions on hold temporarily as they look for other options.

The Arizona documents obtained by the AP were released as part of a lawsuit against the corrections department over transparency in executions. The AP is a party in the lawsuit.

"Documents: Arizona tried to illegally import execution drug" [AP] Read the rest