Confused? The devil is in the details, and the details are in the wording.
Judge Bolton conducted a five-day trial in July 2017, and ended up " concluding that Arpaio was guilty of criminal contempt of court." She set the sentencing for October. However, the following month, President Trump pardoned his friend.
Arpaio's attorneys asked that Judge Bolton vacate her finding of guilt. She declined, and the U.S. Department of Justice took the Sheriff's side. The Ninth Circuit appointed an independent attorney to represent the prosecution's usual role, and the Sheriff unsuccessfully appealed that appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here is what the 9th Circuit judges had to say on that subject:
Though colloquially we refer to the district court’s finding of guilt as a “conviction,” in reality, Arpaio never suffered a final judgment of conviction for criminal contempt. “Final judgment in a criminal case means sentence. The sentence is the judgment.” (citing Berman v. United States). Here, the issuing of a presidential pardon, and Arpaio’s acceptance of the pardon, preempted his sentencing. Thus, there is no final judgment of conviction in this case; instead, there was a final judgment of dismissal with prejudice. This lack of a final judgment of conviction precludes the attachment of “legal consequences,” such as a sentencing enhancement in a subsequent criminal case or claim or issue preclusion in a civil case.
h/t to Phoenix attorney Eric Spencer for first calling our attention to the opinion.
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