Judge formally dismisses Arpaio's criminal case

A federal judge has upheld the validity of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's pardon despite claims from critics that letting his clemency stand would encourage officials to disobey future court orders.

Judge Susan Bolton cited U.S. Supreme Court precedent Wednesday when she formally dismissed the criminal case against the former six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix.

Two months ago, Bolton found Arpaio guilty of disobeying a court order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

The ruling comes five weeks after President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio's conviction for disobeying a 2011 court order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

"This is just another step in vindicating him," said Arpaio's attorney, Mark Goldman. "The vindication was when President Trump pardoned him, gave him an unconditional pardon because the President realized this was an unjust verdict."

Prosecutor John Keller says the pardon ends the case and that Arpaio will never be held accountable for defying the order.

"He has the same clean record he had before this started," said Goldman. "Doesn't even have a speeding ticket."

Bolton is still mulling a request from Arpaio's attorneys to throw out all rulings in the case.

Arpaio wasn't in court for Wednesday's hearing. Meanwhile, tears were flowing outside the courthouse in Phoenix, after Judge Bolton threw out Arpaio's conviction.

"I am very emotional, because what i saw was a huge injustice," said Arpaio opponent Lydia Guzman. "An injustice to the people of this nation."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.