September 6, 2017
The Asian American Bar Association (AABA) is dismayed by President Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt by Judge Susan Bolton of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, which ruled that Arpaio “demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of the Court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct . . . .” In violation of a December 2011 federal court order, Arpaio continued to engage in illegal racial profiling and targeting of immigrants. The criminal contempt charges arose from a civil rights lawsuit, Ortega Melendres, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
AABA believes that President Trump’s pardon improperly absolves Arpaio of his disrespect for the rule of law and his pattern and practice of targeting vulnerable communities of color, in particular immigrant families and children. “While we respect the President’s power to issue certain pardons, we are shocked by the expedited pardon of a law enforcement officer who has blatantly violated a federal court order by continuing to engage in racially discriminatory actions,” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “This action sets a dangerous precedent and weakens the public’s trust in the authority of the judiciary.”
AABA joins its fellow national and local bar associations, including the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the American Bar Association, in expressing disapproval of the pardon. AABA and its members continue to stand up for justice, equity, and inclusion.