DOJ Will Fight Court Ruling, Support Arpaio In Wiping Conviction From Record

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2016, file photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by Joe Arpaio, the then sheriff of metro Phoenix, during a news conference in Marshalltown, Iowa. The former Phoenix-area sheriff 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.In Las Vegas, security concerns prompted event planners to move Arpaio’s scheduled weekend appearance to an undisclosed location away from the casino-lined Strip tourist district. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/AP

The Department of Justice is backing former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his effort to appeal a district court’s decision to keep his contempt of court conviction on his criminal record, according to court documents.

In October, a federal judge denied Arpaio’s request to erase the conviction from his record, claiming that President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was an “executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping,” Judge Susan Bolton said at the time.

Trump pardoned Arpaio in August after he was convicted for violating court orders that barred his office from conducting discriminatory policing practices. The conviction came after a civil lawsuit was filed against Arpaio. His office was issued a court order to halt its practice of racially discriminatory traffic stops. The suit argued he targeted and detained Latinos living in his county.

Arpaio appealed the October ruling and the district court in Arizona requested the support of the DOJ, according to the court documents. In a statement to the U.S. appeals court, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said the DOJ doesn’t intend to defend the court’s order.

“The government intends to argue, as it did in the district court, that the motion to vacate should have been granted,” Cronan wrote.

The DOJ’s move to back Arpaio isn’t particularly surprising.

In September, the Justice Department asked the Arizona federal judge to toss the case against Arpaio after Trump pardoned the former Arizona sheriff. Bolton dropped the case, but ruled against removing the conviction from his record.

When reached by TPM, a DOJ spokesperson declined to comment on the decision.

Read the statement below: