Sheriff Arpaio to Face Special Prosecutor in Appeal of Conviction

A special prosecutor will defend a lower court’s decision not to wipe clean former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s criminal record following his pardon by President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to have the entire court take a second look at a three-judge panel’s April decision to appoint the prosecutor. The Justice Department, which usually would’ve argued against Arpaio in the case, refused to do so.

Trump stirred controversy in August 2017 by pardoning Arpaio, who had been convicted for contempt of court after disregarding orders that he stop his immigration enforcement practices. Those practices had been found to be racially discriminatory.

Arpaio has been an ardent supporter of the president and promoted himself as being tough on illegal immigration. He served as Maricopa County sheriff for 24 years before being defeated in the 2016 election. He later ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated in the primary this year by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).

Judges Consuelo M. Callahan, Jay S. Bybee, Carlos T. Bea, and Sandra S. Ikutadissented from the decision not to rehear the case. Appointing a special prosecutor in this instance is an “unprecedented—and unauthorized—intrusion of executive power,” they said.

The case is U.S. v. Arpaio, 9th Cir., No. 17-10448, 10/10/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura D. Francis in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at