Friday, May 15, 2009

Illinois: Judge Posner on Pardons

In Bowens v. Quinn, Judge Richard Posner considered the claims of 12 Illinoisans who had completed their sentences and filed petitions for executive clemency between 2003 and 2005. Each of the applicants contended that former governor Rod Blagojevich's failure to act on their petitions in a "reasonable" amount of time violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. But Judge Posner and the 7th Ciurcuit concluded the applicants had "no good constitutional claim" to an "entitlement" to reasonably prompt decision-making. Said he:
They want pardons because they have trouble finding and holding jobs, and they have to tell employers, if the employers ask, that they are felons ... though having a criminal record does reducer a person's job opportunities by impairing his reputation for god character, reputation is not a property or liberty interest withing the meaning of the due process clause of the federal Constitution.
Posner also argues Illinois statutes do not "create a requirement of prompt" or "any action" by the governor in a clemency petition. Instead, the State statutes simply describe "the sequence of procedures" in the clemency process. Finally, he wonders what a "reasonable" time for deciding on a clemency application would be? Posner concludes:
Executive clemency is a classic example of unreviewable executive direction because it is one of the traditional royal prerogatives [borrowed] by republican government for bestowal on the head of government. [We] therefore balk at the idea of federal judges setting timetables for action on clemency petitions by state governors. [Federal] courts have run prisons, school systems. police and fire departments and other state and local agencies found to have engaged in unconstitutional conduct. But for a federal court to run a governor's pardon system would be a step too far.

1 comment:

president said...

I agree with the judge on this one. However, it is rude and shows lack of character by a Govenor or President to throw aside such requests.

All of us deserve a second chance and aint one of us perfect and sinless.

How many times must God forgive us each and every day for each of our sins no matter how great or small in such that should a Governor also when such a claim is warranted?

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