Because the Justice Department is refusing to defend Arpaio’s conviction and the entire United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is recused, the Ninth Circuit has appointed a special prosecutor to defend Arpaio’s contempt conviction on appeal. The Special Prosecutor could also attempt to seek a ruling that Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is invalid on grounds that could include the act being a straight quid pro quo.
It is an unprecedented move, but entirely within the authority of the Article III Judiciary.
The District Judge in this case refused to overturn Arpaio’s conviction and rightly so. A pardon is an act of grace. In no way does it compel any court to clear the record of the conviction. It merely protects the subject from punishment.
Should be quite interesting, particularly as the Special Prosecutor could grill lawyers from the Trump administration on Trump’s motivation for the pardon.