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Legal expert: Dismissal of Arpaio’s criminal case could set precedent

In this July 6, 2017, file photo, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio leaves the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Ariz. Arpaio, who was pardoned by President Donald Trump from his federal contempt-of-court conviction in an immigration case is experiencing a wobbly return to the public speaking circuit. (AP Photo/Angie Wang, File)

PHOENIX — A federal judge might have altered future courtroom battles after erasing the criminal conviction for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton’s decision to dismiss Arpaio’s criminal conviction on Wednesday could set a precedent for other cases, according to KTAR News 92.3 FM’s legal expert Monica Lindstrom.

“But it’s up to the judge in that next case to decide if they would follow what Judge Bolton did or not,” Lindstrom said.

However, she said the chances of another case like this one happening are pretty slim. Bolton’s decision came just over a month after President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio.

Related: One step left for Trump’s full pardon of Arpaio

Lindstrom said Bolton’s decision “should have no impact” on the civil case in which Arpaio was accused of racial profiling. She said that’s because “you’re dealing with separate cases and separate judges.”

She added that Arpaio’s case, overall, has been “bizarre.” She noted that “very seldom” are law enforcement officers or politicians prosecuted for criminal contempt of court.

“That’s not something that’s very common, so from the beginning this has been very strange,” she said. “And then you throw into it that the president issues a pardon for a misdemeanor offense before a person is even sentenced. That really puts the cherry on top of the cake when it comes to bizarre.”

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