WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 28, 2017) — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Arizona Asian American Bar Association (AAABA) are disappointed by the pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“The Constitution affords the President wide latitude in the ability to issue a presidential pardon. While we respect this authority, we are concerned about the message the expedited pardon of former sheriff Joe Arpaio sends to the public in a political way that undermines the rule of law and the judicial system,” said NAPABA President Cyndie M. Chang. “As attorneys, we find it troubling that a law enforcement officer would be pardoned and absolved of responsibility for ignoring a federal court order in a civil rights case. Various organizations, leaders from both parties, and communities of color have expressed shock and concern over the effect of the pardon on the public’s trust in the judiciary and the ability to seek recourse for those whose rights are violated.”
The AAABA board of directors made the following statement: “The Arizona Asian American Bar Association condemns President Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. AAABA’s mission is to ‘promote and advocate for justice, equity, equality, inclusion, and opportunity through the Arizona legal profession.’ Accordingly, AAABA is, and has been, against Arpaio’s policies of racial profiling and discrimination, which terrorized the Hispanic and minority communities for many years. Arpaio’s conviction after a five-day trial represented a just result of the systematic violation of civil rights and racial discrimination of the Hispanic and minority communities over many years committed under Arpaio’s guidance and supervision. Arpaio’s conviction finally brought some closure and justice to his victims. The rule of law was upheld, and his conviction clearly demonstrated that no one was above the rule of law. President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio sends the wrong message to minority communities and the rest of the country. By pardoning Arpaio, President Trump has validated and endorsed injustice, discrimination, intolerance, racism, and disregard for the rule of law. This pardon only further divides this country, and is nothing more than a transparent decision to choose politics over justice and the rule of law. AAABA unequivocally condemns the pardon.”
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt by Judge Susan Bolton of the U.S. District Court of Arizona in July. He was found guilty of violating a court order by continuing to engage in illegal racial profiling and targeting of immigrants, stemming from a federal civil rights suit.
NAPABA and AAABA join their fellow national and local bar associations, including the American Bar Association and other diverse bar associations, in expressing disappointment over the pardon. In the current political climate where racial tensions are high in this country, it is important for NAPABA and its members continue to stand for justice, equity, and inclusion to preserve civil rights and to combat anti-immigrant backlash.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of almost 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.
NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.
To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org.