Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hawaii: Free Pending Pardon

In December of 2005, Ernie Gomez received a mandatory 5-year prison sentence for terrorizing his wife with a semi-automatic handgun, but was allowed to remain free on bail while waiting for the outcome of his appeal. When the appeal failed, a Circuit Court judge allowed him to continue to remain remain free while he pursued a pardon from Gov. Linda Lingle. The application is actually supported by Gomez's ex-wife, but a victims advocate is "appalled" by the court's decision and considers it sends "absolutely the worst message to victims of domestic violence." An attorney with the Battered Women's Justice Project in Minnesota says she has "never heard of" a domestic violence felon being spared going to prison while a pardon was pursued. It is also reported that:
The [case] appears to be breaking new ground in Hawaii's criminal justice arena. attorneys have researched as far back as the seventh century to trace the history of pardons and clemency under the English legal system to argue the case. Tomasa, in tne filing, even mentioned President Bush's pardon of Scooter Libby. Otani, the parole administrator, said he is not aware of any other case the board has reviewed in which a prison sentence for a convicted felon was put on hold while a pardon was pursued. Maurice Arrisgado, the senior deputy prosecutor who handled the Gomez trial, likewise said he believes the case is unprecedented in Hawaii. In his 25 years as a prosecutor, "I've never heard of anything like this here," he said.
See story here.

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