Arizona Sheriff Election

FILE — In this July 21, 2016, file photo, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona walks on the stage to speak during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Paul Sancya

PHOENIX — The judge who found former Sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of disobeying a court order has refused to appoint a special prosecutor to appeal her decision that let the retired lawman's pardon stand.

Legal advocacy groups requested a special prosecutor because they say the U.S. Justice Department isn't pursuing an appeal and the power of the courts is at stake.

They cited a rule that lets judges make such appointments if the federal agency declines to prosecute contempt of court cases.

The agency won a contempt of court conviction against Arpaio, but now maintains that the pardon ended his case.

Judge Susan Bolton concluded Wednesday that the groups didn't cite any court cases that suggest the Justice Department's decision not to appeal amounts to a refusal to prosecute.