It's not about racism; it's about the Constitution — that's the stance former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's supporters and legal team are taking.
As the media swarmed over the possibility of a presidential pardon for the country's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff," Arpaio's legal team quietly filed two new motions asking the court to set aside the guilty verdict and set grounds for a new trial.
In short, they want a do-over.
One of Arpaio's attorneys, Mark Goldman, expressed that the court had made "serious and egregious" errors, especially in the way the verdict was delivered to Arpaio.
Goldman said Arpaio found out he was guilty first by the news media and was then emailed his verdict — a violation of public trial and the defendant's right to participate in trial, Goldman said.
“The media knew about this before the defendant, and regardless of how much the court may not like Sheriff Arpaio, which obviously the court doesn’t, he still deserves his constitutional rights," Goldman said. "No one should have to suffer that indignation.”
As for President Donald Trump's promise for pardon, the legal team will cross that bridge if and when it gets there, Goldman said.
The announcement of a potential pardon has stirred up an emotional response from both sides and prompted a Tuesday morning press conference put on by Promise Arizona.
Latino community leaders as well as local and state representatives denounced the idea of a pardon and further ridiculed Trump's middle-of-the-road approach to racism against immigrants and in response to the fatal protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Emotions aside, an Arizona group, the United Liberty Coalition, is continuing its campaign for a pardon based on what it views as a violation of the sixth amendment, the group's executive director Steve Robinson said in a statement to New Times.
"We are first and foremost a constitutional-based organization that believes in justice without prejudice or bias." Robinson said in the statement. "Individually, whether we support Sheriff Arpiao or oppose him personally is irrelevant and need not be a part of this discussion."
The group maintains that there is evidence to show that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office did not follow the court order to stop detaining illegal immigrants unless there was probable cause.
However, the group argues, that there is no evidence that Arpaio deliberately disobeyed. Instead, the group agrees with the legal team's defense that the sheriff's office misunderstood the court order.
Therefore, there isn't substantial evidence for a guilty verdict.
"The right to a fair and unbiased trial is the right of all citizens and should be fiercely protected," Robinson said in the statement.
Until Trump actually follows through on his promise to pardon, it's business as usual.
For Goldman, this means defending his client against what he considers to be "mean-spirited" comments from the opposition.
On Monday, the ACLU denounced the potential presidential pardon by telling Trump, "Make no mistake: This would be an official presidential endorsement of racism."
In a statement to the New Times, Goldman pointed out the irony of slinging around the big R-word when the ACLU represented the National Socialist Party of America on the grounds of free speech in a controversial 1978 case in Skokie, Illinois.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
For good measure, Goldman also threw in the 2000 case in which the ACLU defended the North American Man Boy Love Association, again on the grounds of free speech, to prove his point that the ACLU "has lost its moral authority and right to criticize anyone."
"It is audacious and hypocritical that the ACLU, an organization that represents organizations that espouse and support child molestation and hatred of minorities, accuses anyone of racism," he said in the statement.