Saturday, January 3, 2009

Watch List: Texans? Or No Texans?

After PardonPower did an interview with the Houston Chronicle last week, several major papers in the State of Texas have headlined the fact that our Pardon Watch List contains the names of Major League Baseball pitching great Roger Clemens and former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling (see, for example, this article in today's Austin American Statesman). The Watch List also contains the name of another famous Texan, O. Henry, but we suppose no one cares much about dead guys any more.

Rusty Hardin, a middle-child lawyer who "shouted and pouted" but lost an Arthur Anderson case in 2002, represents Mr. Clemens. Hardin says the mere suggestion that Roger Clemens might be pardoned is "an insane invention of people who have too much time on their hands." This kind of language - no doubt, contributed to the New York Times' description of Hardin as an "entertainer." And Hardin proudly links to the article on his company's webpage.

But we are far too modest to take credit for being the first to link either Clemens or Mr. Skilling to the possibility of a presidential pardon. Informed readers will recall that it was Richard Emery - another lawyer - who first suggested that Clemens would be pardoned by President Bush (who is quite the baseball fan). The suggestion may not have made it into newspapers all over America had it not also been known that Clemens is personal friend of George H.W. Bush - see Clemens' frequent references to the friendship during the Mitchell Report hearings. The elder Bush, by the way, is lobbying for a commutation of sentence for former Democratic Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. How's that for "insane"? Those of us who study pardons also know Texans have done pretty well by this president. Regardless, PardonPower has no particular view of whether or not Mr. Emery has "too much time on his hands."

Similarly, it was Eleanor Clift, of Newsweek, who, way back in May of 2006, expressed her view on the McGlaughlin Group that George W. Bush would "find a way" to pardon or commute the sentence of Mr. Skilling, and Ken Lay for that matter! Clift just couldn't "see" either one of those men serving a long prison sentence. In Clift's defense, a more learned observer, Ellen Podger - of the White Collar Crime Blog, once described Skilling's sentence as a "draconian" measure that was characterized by "worthlessness." She has also said Skilling may be in prison for "committing an alleged crime that may not be a crime." Now, back to our insanity!

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