President Donald Trump's pardoning of Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, in August led Arpaio to file a request to have his criminal record cleared because he had been pardoned. But a federal judge says the criminal justice system does not work that way.
Arpaio lost his bid to clear his record by a federal judge, Susan Bolton, on the grounds that a pardon does not wipe away historical facts.
Jack Wilenchik, one of Arpaio's attorneys, believed the relief he was seeking was important, according to Tucson.com.
He said Arpaio intended to appeal his conviction following the initial ruling. Wilenchik noted that Arpaio was entitled to a jury trial and would have won if the appeal had gone to court.
Bolton found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt in July, and rather than go through an appeal, Arpaio was pardoned by Trump a month later.
"It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings," Bolton said. The judge said there is case law showing that a pardon carries an imputation of guilt -- and that acceptance is "a confession of it."
Bolton said she had already saved Arpaio from six months in jail when she dismissed the criminal contempt case following Trump's pardon. She said she cannot erase the record as if it never happened.
She went on to note the ability to pardon is part of a president's powers, but does not extend to judicial record-keeping.
Arpaio was charged with criminal contempt for violating the civil rights of civilians by directing his officers in Arizona to stop anyone who resembled an immigrant from Mexico and to ask for proof they were in the country legally. He allegedly directed officers to bypass due process by detaining them when they couldn't produce acceptable proof, according to The New York Times.
The officers carried on this practice for 18 months.
Arpaio was sheriff in Arizona for 24 years and during that time created an outdoor Tent City in the desert for detainees. Human rights activists spent years trying to get the facilities closed due to the inhumane conditions, according to NPR.
Newly elected Sheriff Paul Penzone began closing the jail in April after finding the jail to be ineffective at preventing inmates from committing crimes.
Arpaio, who was known as the nation's "toughest sheriff," will continue to have the conviction for violating constitutional rights of civilians on his record.