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Dozens of House Democrats want judge to reject Arpaio pardon

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PHOENIX — Nearly three dozen House Democrats, including Arizonans Ruben Gallego and Raul Grijalva, have asked a judge to reject the pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The group of 33 filed a friend-of-the-court brief Wednesday in Phoenix.

They argued that the pardon issued by President Donald Trump on Aug. 25 was unconstitutional and “The presidential pardon upon which that motion is based is an encroachment by the Executive on the independence of the Judiciary.”

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, guilty of criminal contempt in July. He had, Bolton said, defied another judge’s order to stop his racial-profiling traffic stops of Hispanics.

Three other legal advocacy groups also were asking Bolton to declare the pardon invalid or unconstitutional. Arpaio’s attorneys filed papers earlier this month asking that the other group’s request be denied.

“For the foregoing reasons, the amici Members of Congress urge the Court to hold the President’s pardon of Defendant Joseph M. Arpaio to be an invalid encroachment on the authority of the Judiciary, deny the pending motion to vacate the conviction of the Defendant for criminal contempt, and proceed to sentencing,” the filing said.

Arpaio’s attorneys have asked Bolton to formally dismiss the criminal case and throw out a lengthy ruling that explained the reasoning behind his guilty verdict.

The Department of Justice filed papers Sept. 11 agreeing with Arpaio’s lawyers that the conviction be vacated.

The pardon spared the 85-year-old lawman a possible jail sentence for his conviction for intentionally disobeying a court order in an immigration case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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