National News

Valley lawyers hold 'vigil for rule of law' in wake of Arpaio pardon

Posted August 30

— Despite the sweltering heat, a "bipartisan group of lawyers" gathered outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse Tuesday afternoon to "stand vigil to affirm their commitment as lawyers and citizens to support and defend our judicial system and the rule of law."

The event was planned in the wake of President Donald Trump's pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In conjunction with the vigil, the Arizona Justice Project released a statement about the president's power to pardon and grant clemency.

"Last week, President Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he had been convicted of contempt of court for intentionally violating a previous court order to stop the racial profiling practice of arresting Latino drivers and detaining them, even where there was no probable cause or any criminal charge against the individuals.

"When law enforcement violates the law, specifically when that violation targets innocent people and deprives them of their rights, law enforcement should be held accountable.

"The Arizona Justice Project is the only organization in this State [sic] dedicated to exonerating the innocent and correcting cases of manifest injustice. On behalf of clients who have been wrongly convicted, we have sought pardons and clemency and rarely have our deserving clients been granted that vindication.

"It is troubling to see support for a pardon such as this, when Governors [sic] in Arizona and across the nation have refused to consider pardons or clemency even for the innocent and have turned a deaf ear to inmates with terminal medical conditions.

"Executive clemency is supposed to provide the 'fail safe' in our criminal justice system and has long been the remedy for preventing miscarriages of justice where the judicial process has been exhausted. Pardons in such matters are not wrong. Nor is mercy motivated by a sense of charity for the convicted. But this is not such a case. Sheriff Arpaio, a law enforcement officer, took an oath to respect the Constitution's vital constraints on his enforcement powers. He was convicted of deliberately choosing to violate those constraints. His pardon was not an act of clemency or mercy. It was an act of endorsement and even applause for his willful abuse of power."

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