The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s request to remove a special prosecutor in his ongoing battle. One of Arpaio’s attorneys tells Arizona’s Politics/Arizona’s Law* that the nine Justices “just (don’t) have enough time to correct all of the Ninth Circuit’s mistakes.” (The Supreme Court’s declination came without comment or an indication of how each Justice voted.)
Arpaio is fighting to vacate his criminal conviction for contempt of court in the long-running Melendres case regarding racial profiling. After President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017, the President’s Justice Department declined to fight Arpaio’s attempt to vacate the contempt conviction. The court has assigned an independent attorney to step in and argue that the pardon does not erase the conviction.
As Arpaio counsel Jack Wilenchik tells Arizona’s Law/Arizona’s Politics, the appeal – currently in the 9th Circuit – will continue despite the adverse decision from the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court just doesn’t have enough time to correct all of the Ninth Circuit’s mistakes. Appeal goes forward as normal except that the USA now has two sets of prosecutors who don’t agree with each other because the Ninth Circuit ordered that it be so.”
The Ninth Circuit appeal was on hold until the U.S. Solicitor General informed the court in January that the government would not appeal the decision. The briefing schedule continued despite the former Sheriff’s decision to ask the Supreme Court to get involved. Last week, both the Special Prosecutor and the Department of Justice filed their answering briefs with the Ninth Circuit, and Arpaio’s Reply is due later in May.