Skip to content

Joe Arpaio: Criminal?

In case you did not hear, President Trump issued his first pardon since becoming President: former Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was convicted in federal court of Criminal Contempt. His criminality? Disobeying what was reportedly a very vague judicial order issued by a federal judge instructing Sheriff Arpaio to NOT enforce federal immigration laws in apprehension by his offices of illegal immigrants with subsequent transfer of those to federal authorities for deportation. On the surface the sheriff’s actions seem reasonable and totally acceptable. But not so to federal judge Susan Bolton.


Sheriff Arpaio was accused of instructing his officers when making traffic stops to verify the immigration status of those who they stopped. If verification of their identity and immigration status showed they were illegal, officers detained them and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and turned those illegal immigrants over to ICE for prosecution. A Class Action suit was filed against the Sheriff’s Department claiming that these arrests and illegal immigration deportation actions were violations of the Fourth Amendment by not providing due process for those arrested. In the highly charged illegal immigration atmosphere along the southern border, Arpaio’s actions in these arrests and ICE referrals was met with major public outcry by open border proponents. Concerted efforts were initiated to stop the colorful sheriff from these immigration law violations that led to several court actions, including an order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow on December 23, 2011. In that order, Snow told the Sheriff’s Department to stop detaining illegal immigrants unless deputies had probable cause they broke “state” laws unrelated to immigration. Arpaio’s officers continued detentions and ICE referrals of illegals. On May 24, 2013, Snow ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and committed acts of racial profiling against Hispanics. In June of 2017 a 4-day trial was conducted by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in which Arpaio was found guilty of Criminal Contempt for ignoring the 2011 Court Order.

Case Oddities

There are several unsettling details of this case that every American needs to pay close attention to. The first unsettling — and very obvious — thing about this case is that the Sheriff and his officers were chastised for identifying and detaining those who were guilty of being in the United States illegally. Most Americans feel that law enforcement officers that when hired swore to enforce the law should not be stopped and certainly not penalized for doing just that by detaining illegal immigrants. In some way two federal judges felt that in doing so, 4th Amendment rights of those illegals were violated. That is unconscionable and certainly will find its way into the purview of the U.S. Supreme Court for clarification.

Secondly, Judge Susan Bolton on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 (after hearing arguments of three lawsuits involving an Arizona law about police checking immigration status for those they stop or arrest or suspect are in the country illegally called Arizona Law SB 1070),  issued a ruling blocking small portions of that Arizona law, writing that “requiring police to check the immigration status of those they arrest or whom they stop and suspect are in the country illegally would overwhelm the federal government’s ability to respond, and could mean legal immigrants are wrongly arrested.” Judge Bolton wrote: “Federal resources will be taxed and diverted from federal enforcement priorities as a result of the increase in requests for immigration status determination that will flow from Arizona.” Then on September 5, 2012, Judge Bolton cleared the way for police to carry out the 2010 law’s requirement that officers, while enforcing other laws, may question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. This part of the law has been called the “show me your papers” provision. (Note: Her clearing the way for those police actions happened 9 months AFTER her counterpart, Judge Murray Snow, issued his court order for the Sheriff’s Department to stop such apprehensions) But it only gets stranger.

Judge Bolton whose court section is in the same courthouse as her fellow judge Murray Snow held Arpaio’s trial with NO jury. Multiple witnesses for the Defense presented to her very clear evidence of the conflict presented by her subsequent order clearing the way for police to carry out those actions. Judge Bolton found that the order by Judge Snow, who sits on the same Arizona court, clearly said something that it did not even say: that the MCSO was prohibited from turning illegal aliens over to Border Patrol or ICE. Every witness in the case testified that the order was not clear, even though Judge Bolton and her fellow judge say so. Numerous law enforcement agencies also continue to do this. In fact, the DOJ now goes after agencies that refuse to do this.

In Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 42, Section 3, it states the following: “(3) Trial and Disposition. A person being prosecuted for criminal contempt is entitled to a jury trial in any case in which federal law so provides and must be released or detained as Rule 46 provides. If the criminal contempt involves disrespect toward or criticism of a judge, that judge is disqualified from presiding at the contempt trial or hearing unless the defendant consents.” Judge Bolton broke this law by not allowing Sheriff Arpaio a jury by trial as the law plainly guarantees a defendant charged with Criminal Contempt. Judge Arpaio and his attorney specifically requested trial by jury that Judge Bolton denied. The verdict determined and rendered solely by Bolton will certainly be reversed for the jury request refusal and also on the grounds of lack of evidence to corroborate such a verdict. Bolton sentenced Arpaio to jail.

Danger for Arpaio

During his extensive career in law enforcement, both at the federal and state level, Arpaio was responsible for putting numerous criminals behind bars. He was best known as being tough on drug offenders of all kinds as well as illegal immigration offenders. Mexican drug cartels were often targets of the Sheriff who broke up innumerable drug trafficking projects putting hundreds of cartel members behind bars. He was hated by incarcerated lawbreakers. You may remember the press he received for requiring all those incarcerated to wear pink jail outfits, refused television privileges, and fed prisoners bologna sandwiches. He felt criminals convicted of felonies deserved serious requirements in jail for committing serious crimes.

Because of the “payback” by drug cartels that would almost certainly result in Arpaio’s murder if/when he would be locked up, and because of the very obvious political prosecution of Arpaio and the ridiculous trial, President Trump pardoned the former Sheriff to the chagrin of those on the Left. The Media firestorm began in earnest immediately upon the release of the news of the pardon. And they continue to cry “fowl” for the President’s pardon. Their cries have even reached to their using the “I” word again: Impeachment. In fact, there’s a professor who maintains impeachment is not only possible, but should occur.

Professor Martin Redish argues in the New York Times that this particular pardon ought to be deemed constitutionally invalid. He contends that it offends the Due Process Clause because the only effective redress for those whose rights were violated by then–Sheriff Arpaio when he defied the court’s injunction is a contempt sanction, and voiding that sanction with a pardon both neuters the judicial power to enforce constitutional rights and deprives Arpaio’s victims of relief. Even professor Redish admits that this is a novel theory, and with respect, it simply won’t fly.

Seriously! Presidential pardons have been issued by every President in modern history. And although many Americans despise the process of releasing prisoners, the practice is protected Constitutionally and usually is initiated shortly before the President leaves office. In Arpaio’s case, the impending danger to the 80+ year old former sheriff led the President to issue his pardon now.

By the way, here are the numbers of pardons made by some previous Presidents:

  • Obama absolved the sentenced of 1,937 convicts during his two terms in the White House, granting clemency to more people convicted of federal crimes than any chief executive in 64 years
  • Bill Clinton: 396
  • Ronald Reagan: 393
  • George H. Bush: 74
  • George W. Bush: 189
  • Lyndon Johnson: 960
  • John F. Kennedy: 472
  • The most by any President: 2819 by Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Donald Trump: 1


Do you get the sense that now more than ever we are seeing a huge divide growing larger between the Conservative and Liberal mindsets in the nation? Those on the Left more than ever want total control over everything political in America. Somehow they have found a way to arbitrarily determine what laws and rules must be adhered to by all and which can be ignored: this rather than simply maintaining that 250 year old process of demanding adherence by all to every duly passed law. Not only can laws be broken, who determines who can break which laws with impunity and with no regard of accountability must come only from the Leftist Politically Correct.

McCarthy-ism is alive in America. Be really careful if you’re a Conservative of any kind: they don’t like you!

2 thoughts on “Joe Arpaio: Criminal?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.