Attorney suing Arpaio calls presidential pardon 'grotesque aberration'

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

The legal community is weighing in on the pardon of controversial ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio. The former Maricopa County sheriff was granted a clean slate Friday after having been convicted of criminal contempt of court. 

Arpaio’s legal troubles are not over. Beginning back in 1998, attorney Michael Manning has brought some 15 civil suits against Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, many of them involving claims of wrongful death and civil rights violations.

[RELATED: Former sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to us about presidential pardon]

Manning said Saturday he expects his last suit to go to a jury trial by the end of the year. He represents the family of Marty Atencio who is seen in surveillance video in a scuffle with jail officers in 2011. Atencio had been booked on non-violent misdemeanor charges and his family claims the fatal attack on the mentally ill army veteran was unprovoked.

“It was the fine point on this incredible culture of cruelty Arpaio created,” says Manning. 

[RELATED: Arpaio legal bill may top $700K]

“They stripped [Atencio] naked, pulled him into what they called a safe cell, beat him some more, tased him a few times."

Manning says he didn’t want to see Arpaio serve time in jail, but was disappointed to learn Arpaio would not face any consequences for ignoring a judge’s order to stop his controversial immigration raids. He says such pardon is a "grotesque aberration." 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio]

“It's hard for me to imagine that any liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican could think that it was a good idea to pardon a sworn law enforcement officer that saluted a federal court order with his middle finger,” says Manning. 

The American Bar Association issued a statement expressing disappointment following the pardon:

“The American Bar Association is disappointed that a pardon was granted to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. While the Constitution affords the president broad powers to pardon, the ABA believes this authority should be used in a manner that does not undermine the public’s trust in our justice system.

The crime that Arpaio was convicted of committing -- criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order – showed a blatant disregard for the authority of the judiciary. As a law enforcement officer who took an oath to uphold the law and respect the courts, he instead chose to substitute his own interpretation of justice.

Granting Arpaio an expedited pardon sends the wrong message to the public. The authority of the courts must be respected if our system is to work. Individual interpretations cannot be swapped for the rule of law.

Pardoning a law enforcement officer who has disobeyed the courts and violated the rights of people he has sworn to protect undercuts judicial authority and the public’s faith in our legal system.”

Arpaio says he is planning a press conference Monday where he will reveal information proving he was wrongfully convicted. No additional details have been released.

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