A federal judge on Thursday shot down former sheriff Joe Arpaio’s bid to sweep his criminal record clean.
Arpaio, the controversial former lawman in Arizona’s Maricopa County, was granted a pardon by President Trump on Aug. 25. He had been found guilty of criminal contempt of a federal court order after a five-day bench trial earlier this year and faced the possibility of up to six months in jail. After the pardon, the 85-year-old Arpaio petitioned the court to clear his record and prevent the ruling from being used in future litigation.
The case raised the novel question of how far a presidential pardon actually reaches.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton said the pardon only freed Arpaio from possible punishment. In a four-page order offering a check on the president’s executive power, Bolton wrote that a pardon could not erase the facts of the case.
“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping,” Bolton wrote in the decision. “To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction. The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt.”
The president issued the pardon, and Arpaio was spared “from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed,” the judge wrote. “It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case.”
Arpaio’s attorney immediately filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Arpaio’s hard-line stance on immigration and his harsh treatment of prisoners in Arizona’s Maricopa County made him a household name. Dubbed “America’s toughest sheriff,” it also earned him fans on the political right, as The Washington Post’s Derek Hawkins has written.
The former lawman’s conviction stems from his failure to comply with a 2011 court order halting the detention of individuals on the basis of their suspected immigration status. Arpaio, a vehement proponent of stronger border control, was a vocal backer of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump issued the pardon before Arpaio’s sentencing.
Arpaio, who was voted out of office last fall after a 24-year run, said after his pardon that he was thinking about reentering politics. “I think I’ve got a big political message to get out,” he told the Arizona Republic.
Presidential pardons typically forgive a person for a federal crime, but do not retroactively scrub the record of the crime from the court system. But the former sheriff’s attorneys argued that because of the timing, the ruling in the case should be thrown out. Although the move had no technical significance for Arpaio’s situation, his attorneys told The Washington Post in September it would be a “matter of clearing his name.”
The Department of Justice concurred, filing a brief with the court arguing that due to the pardon “the court should vacate all orders and dismiss the case as moot.”
Two groups — Free Speech for People, and the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center — filed their own motions challenging the pardon itself.
“If the President may employ his pardon power to relieve government officers of accountability and risk of penalty for defying injunctions imposed to enforce constitutional rights, that action will permanently impair the courts’ authority and ability to protect those inalienable rights,” the Free Speech for People brief argued. “The result would be an executive branch freed from the judicial scrutiny required to assure compliance with the dictates of the Bill of Rights and other constitutional safeguards.”
“We are not aware of a single case in our nation’s history where the president pardoned an elected official for disobeying a court order to stop violating constitutional rights,” Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech for People, told the Intercept in September. “With this pardon, Trump has pushed our country into uncharted territory.”
A federal judge on sentenced a former supervisory deputy jailer at the Kentucky River Regional Jail to nine years in prison for beating an inmate and trying to cover up the beating, officials announced Friday.
U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell on Thursday sentenced Kevin Eugene Asher, 32.
Under federal law, Asher must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence.
On April 12, 2017, a jury convicted Asher, 32, of deprivation of civil rights under color of law, and obstruction of justice.
According to the evidence, in November 2012, Asher and another deputy jailer, Damon Wayne Hickman, physically assaulted Gary Hill, a 55-year-old inmate who was being held following an arrest for a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
According to testimony, Deputies Asher and Hickman approached Hill after Hill had run the faucet in his jail cell to the point where water had spilled out onto the floor.
Hickman testified at trial that he punched Hill in the face, causing Hill to fall onto the floor. Hickman further testified that while Hill was curled up in a fetal position, he and Asher began kicking Hill.
Asher and Hickman then immobilized Hill in a restraint chair and Hickman continued to beat him.
Evidence indicated that following the brutal assault, the deputies failed to obtain any medical treatment for Hill who had received numerous injuries.
The jury also found that Asher obstructed justice by filling out an incident report at the jail in which he falsely claimed that Hill had slipped and fallen onto the floor and that no physical force had been used against him, according to authorities.
The Kentucky River Regional Jail houses pre-trial detainees from Perry and Knott Counties.
“Nothing justifies or excuses the defendant’s outrageous conduct in this case,” said Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Gore. “When deputy jailers make the corrupt choice to violate our Constitution and laws, the Justice Department will prosecute such misconduct, just as it did here.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Carlton Shier said: “Prosecuting this type of disgraceful conduct is critical to making our communities safer. We simply must hold officials accountable for violations of the public trust that was placed in them.”
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 23, of Aurora, Illinois, to 15 years in prison for attempting to travel overseas to Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusrah, a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to officials.
Tounisi was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in April 2013 as he attempted to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
Tounisi had spent four months doing online research related to overseas travel and violent jihad, focusing specifically on Syria and the violent Jabhat al-Nusrah terrorist organization.
Tounisi pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, according to authorities.
According to his plea agreement, Tounisi in early 2013 made online contact with an individual he believed to be a recruiter for Jabhat al-Nusrah.
He and the purported recruiter exchanged a series of emails, during which Tounisi shared his plan to go to Syria by way of Turkey, as well as his willingness to fight for the jihadist cause, the plea agreement states.
Unbeknownst to Tounisi, the purported recruiter was actually an FBI employee.
Tounisi, a U.S. citizen, requested an expedited passport and purchased an airline ticket for the flight from Chicago to Istanbul, according to officials.
He arrived at O’Hare on the evening of April 19, 2013, and was arrested after passing through security in the international terminal.
The defendant was a close friend of Adel Daoud, of Hillside, Illinois, who was arrested on Sept. 14, 2012, for allegedly attempting to detonate a bomb outside a bar in downtown Chicago.
Tounisi recommended certain attack techniques to Daoud but ultimately decided against participating in the attack. Daoud was charged separately and is awaiting trial in federal court in Chicago, officials stated.
(CBS File Story)
A man admitted that he left a voicemail message for the Islamic Center of Greater Miami in February that threatened to shoot congregants, according to authorities.
During the plea hearing, officials said Gerald Wallace admitted that on the evening of Feb. 19, he left a hate-filled and profanity-laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to go to the mosque.
He stated, “I’m gonna shoot all y’all.” He also admitted that by leaving this threatening message, he obstructed congregants who worship at the Islamic Center from freely exercising their religious beliefs, according to officials.
Wallace pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by making the threatening call.
Wallace is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his guilty plea to the hate crime charge. Sentencing is set for Jan. 17, according to authorities.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate threats of hate violence, which threaten whole communities’ sense of safety and security,” said John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.
“Hate crimes, no matter their form, engender fear and have no place in our society,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg.