Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was denied a federal expungement recently in spite of his pardon from current President Trump. Under federal law, there are very limited circumstances where a defendant is eligible for expungement.
Mr. Arpaio requested the federal court that entered his conviction for contempt of court completely “wipe out” all of the records from his criminal case. Counsel for Mr. Arpaio attempted to create a new level of expungement which “wiped out” all of the records from a criminal case.
“What Wilenchik (counsel for Arpaio) said he does want is a recognition that the case is now legally moot. He said it’s no different than if someone dies before sentencing or having a chance to appeal. “The whole case gets undone,” he said, with the conviction nullified.
The problem with this argument is that a Presidential Pardon requires an acceptance of guilt on the part of the person receiving the pardon. A pardon is merely a forgiving, not a forgetting. The judge who denied the request to have the records “wiped out” explained the matter as follows;
“It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings,” Bolton said. In fact, the judge said there is case law showing that a pardon carries an imputation of guilt — and that acceptance is “a confession of it.”
In short, that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. There is only one set of circumstances where expungement is even possible in federal court which you can read about here. If you’d like to learn more about how the “super expungement” requested by Mr. Arpaio failed, you can read the Tuscon.com’s story here.
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