A federal appeals court is set to name a special prosecutor who will argue against that the guilty verdict against former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and say it should remain on the books despite President Trump‘s pardon.
According to BuzzFeed, On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that, since the Justice Department won’t defend Arpaio, a special prosecutor is necessary.
Arpaio’s is currently running to win the Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Arpaio said the appointment is “totally improper” and represents an “accusatory role” for the court.
Arpaio was accused of racially profiling Latinos in his hardline immigration enforcement as sheriff.
He was convicted of criminal contempt for disobeying a federal judge’s order regarding detaining people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
Last August, Trump pardoned Arpaio. At the time, Trump called Arpaio an “American patriot” and said he “kept Arizona safe.”
In October, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued an order to shut down requests by the former sheriffs’ attorneys to have the facts behind the conviction displayed after the pardon.
In the order, Bolden said that Trump’s pardon was an “executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping.”
She wrote, “The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case.”
The Justice Department, in December, told the 9th Circuit it would “represent the government’s interests” on appeal. It also said that it would not defend the judge’s order.
Legal advocacy groups argued that the 9th circuit should name a lawyer to defend the judge’s order. The groups said in a friend-of-court brief that the court should get “the full advantage of the adversarial process.”
On Tuesday, in its 2-1 ruling, the 9th circuit agreed.
Arpaio will face a tough GOP primary, facing off against Arizona Rep. Martha McSally and state Sen. Kelli Ward. In November’s general election, Arpaio will likely face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.
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Credit: The Hill