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Joe Arpaio returns to court in fight to erase contempt conviction

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will continue his fight Wednesday in an appeals court to wipe his record clean of a contempt of court conviction.

The former six-term sheriff will not be in the San Francisco courtroom.

President Donald Trump pardoned the former longtime lawman in 2017, after a judge ruled that Arpaio purposefully ignored a court order to end his immigration sweeps and convicted him.

Arpaio has said repeatedly that while he did continue the patrols, he didn’t knowingly dismiss the 2011 order.

He had appealed a lower-court ruling that refused to expunge his conviction for disobeying the court.

The judge who handed down the ruling said pardons didn’t erase convictions or the facts of cases.

Arpaio’s lawyers had previously told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that their client was deprived of his opportunity to appeal the conviction because the pardon came before he was sentenced and final judgment was entered, so the conviction must be erased.

Special prosecutor Christopher Caldwell has argued Arpaio gave up his right to appeal the conviction when he accepted the pardon – and that if the 87-year-old wanted to challenge the conviction, he should have rejected the clemency and taken his chances in the appeals court.

Lawyers for the Justice Department won the conviction against Arpaio, but once the pardon was issued, the agency sided with Arpaio in arguing that the conviction should be expunged because he was pardoned before the conviction became final.

Arpaio, a Republican, announced in August that he was running for his old job again in 2020.

He was ousted in 2016 by Democrat Paul Penzone.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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