Thursday, December 11, 2008

Virginia: Pardoned, But ...

Ian Shapira of the Washington Post has written an interesting story regarding Air Force cadet Andrew F. Harley, who was arrested in 1985 on marijuana and cocaine charges. Harley was convicted in a court-martial, expelled and sentenced to eight months of military confinement. But two weeks ago, he received a presidential pardon. Shapira notes "there is no evidence that Harley pulled Washington levers for the pardon. No lawyer advocated his petition. He simply asked three friends to write letters on his behalf." Harley first applied for the pardon back in April of 2005.

But, Shapira also writes that the Bush pardon is just "part of Harley's ongoing drama." As it turns out he (Shapira) is "contending with a messy legal spat involving an Alexandria businessman, the businessman's estranged wife and their 19-year-old son." Lawsuits allege, among other things, that Harley sought to sell marijuana to the teenager. Margaret Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997, said that because presidents issue very few pardons, expectations are high for the character of those who receive them:

"There's no question in my mind that if federal investigators had seen these court documents, they probably would have held the case up," Love said. "On the other hand, if these suits only happened in August, you can hardly fault the Justice Department or FBI for not knowing about it. If there's a take-away, it's, 'Do more, Mr. President.' "

The current U.S. Pardon Attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, has declined to comment on the case but, since the conviction, Harley earned a social science degree from California Polytechnic State University and a master's degree in social welfare from Berkeley. He also married and had two children. Shapira writes:

Harley may never know why Bush chose him out of so many pardon applicants. He is one of just eight people in Maryland, the District and Virginia who have received a pardon or sentence commutation from Bush since he took office in 2001, according to an analysis by P.S. Ruckman, a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Illinois and author of the blog Pardon Power.

See full story - with many additional details of Harley's current legal battles - here.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Schrembs said...

Jeff Schrembs said: Anyone who has undergone a "Federal Investigation" knows that (a) the deck is stacked against you (b) unless you are rich/politically connected/powerful that you are "toast" and/or (c) your life will NEVER be the same.
This is one of the "dirty little secrets" in American Justice and in the "system".
No disrespect to Judges but they don't allow the Defendant to "speak" due to the "incrimination factor". However, most Defendants don't even see/speak to their "Court Appointed Attorneys" until AFTER they are arrested/imprisioned. Thus, they are so "emotionally devestated" that the Defense has to play "catchup" with limited means/access/monetary means. It is tragic and it is sad and it is WRONG. America can do better and should do better. If you don't believe these statements then I hope, and pray, that you NOR your loved ones are EVER put into a situation like this because if you are...then you will READILY agree with my statements (sadly).

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