Judge Bolton Should Let Someone Make the Argument Against Vacating Joe Arpaio's Conviction

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Media Outlet: Lawfare

Joshua Geltzer wrote for the Lawfare blog on the upcoming hearing for Joe Arpaio's request to have his conviction for criminal contempt vacated:

On October 4, Judge Susan Bolton will hold a hearing to consider former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s request that she vacate his conviction for criminal contempt now that President Trump has issued what many have described as a regrettable but valid pardon. This choice is to Judge Bolton’s credit: Instead of simply vacating his conviction, she’s wise to grapple with this unusual and perhaps unprecedented pardon. And, to help her do so, she should appoint an amicus curiae, a “friend of the court.” Without one, Judge Bolton will hear only one perspective: Arpaio, of course, wants to see his conviction wiped away; and his former prosecutors at the Justice Department – the same Justice Department whose Office of the Pardon Attorney formally issued Arpaio’s pardon – surely will no longer take a contrary view, despite at least one valiant plea to do otherwise. Our legal system thrives on adversarial argumentation, and Judge Bolton deserves to hear two sides of the argument, not just one, as she thinks through how to handle Arpaio’s circumstances.


Joshua Geltzer is an ASU Future of War Fellow at New America. He is writing a book exploring challenges associated with modern communications technologies such as social media platforms, file-upload sites, and internet search engines.