The Supreme Court dealt a setback to former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joseph Arpaio on Monday, declining to review a lower court decision to appoint a special prosecutor in a case related to his contempt of court conviction.
Arpaio was found in contempt of court in 2017 because he continued to make immigration arrests after he was ordered to stop. But before his sentencing, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, getting rid of any possible sentence.
Arpaio then moved to also wipe away the guilty verdict. The district court, however, denied Arpaio’s request, a decision he appealed.
At the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department said it did not intend to defend the district court’s order that went against Arpaio.
The appeals court appointed Christopher Caldwell, a lawyer at Boies Schiller, as a “special prosecutor.”
Seeking to challenge that appointment at the Supreme Court, Arpaio asked the justices to reverse the 9th Circuit ruling that allowed a “special prosecutor” to supplant the DOJ. He argued it violates the separation of powers.
The Justice Department, however, told the justices that while the 9th Circuit lacked the authority to appoint the prosecutor, the justices should not step in at this juncture – a position they sided with.