Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Justice Kennedy Draws Picture for Obama's DOJ

On a roll - Josh Gerstein informs readers of Politico.Com that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recently commented on the disappearance of commutations of sentence in what used to be known in our system of government as the executive branch's clemency process. Justice Kennedy's commentary came during oral argument for a case involving one Percy Dillon, a cocaine dealer. Gerstein notes Justice Kennedy "apparently surprised" Justice Department attorney Leondra Kruger "by asking whether prisoners like Dillon, who was sentenced to more than 26 years, might get any relief from the White House."

Monday, March 29, 2010

How the Media Killed the Commutation

There was a time (in the early 1900s) when presidents actually granted more commutations of sentence than they did pardons. Today, of course, commutations of sentence are downright freakish. Lyndon B. Johnson was the last president to use them with anything like regularity.

On June 6, 1966, Johnson set a new record for the highest number of individual pardons granted in a single day. Johnson broke the forty-three year old record of Warren Harding by granting clemency to ninety-three individuals. But author Kathleen D. Moore notes Johnson was also “disgusted” by “press criticism” of the “large” number of pardons that he granted.

Obama Pardon Secrecy Policy: More Bush

Josh Gerstein at the Politico notes the Obama Administration is fighting George Lardner's request for the names of 9,200 individuals denied clemency by George W. Bush. At the same time, Obama has vowed to operate the most "open and transparent administration in history." Hardy Harr Harr! Obama's D.O.J. claims clemency applicants "have a substantial privacy interest in nondisclosure of the fact that they have unsuccessfully sought clemency" and the "substantial privacy interest of the clemency applicants outweighs the negligible public interest in disclosure of their names.”

SF Chronicle: Pardon Prouty

Nada Prouty, ex-FBI agent and CIA covert terrorism officer, was featured on the CBS television show 60 minutes yesterday and the San Francisco Chronicle is convinced that, should the Obama administration ever decide to kick start a clemency program, she should be pardoned.

Prouty had one of the nations highest security clearances, speaks several languages, has saved American lives, and, says the Chronicle, "by all appearances is an American Patriot, and the real-life Captain America." She even got the confession of the mastermind of the hijacking of Pan Am flight 73. Now she is doing 160 years in jail.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Very Colorful Joe Don Looney

Joe Don Looney was a high school football star and moved on to become a two hundred and thirty pound running back with "breakaway" speed at the University of Oklahoma. He actually sat on the sidelines as a “third string” player during most of his first game at the University of Oklahoma. But he brazenly told Sooner coach Bud Wilkinson to put him in at the end of the game - that is, if Wilkinson was truly interested in winning. Uncharacteristically, the Coach gave in to the challenge and sent the bench warmer onto the field. Looney stuck his head in the huddle and told quarterback Monte Deer to just give him the ball and watch him score. Most of the Oklahoma offense looked at the back of Looney’s jersey in amazement as he sprinted sixty yards for the game-winning touchdown. It was a colorful, storybook beginning that would, unfortunately, wear thin quick.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Madison's Pirate Pardon: Celebrating New Orleans' Jean LaFitte

Jean LaFitte was the youngest of three boys who was born near France, in Haiti or in Spain, depending upon who you read. He and his cross eyed brother, Pierre, came to America some time between 1802 and 1804 and may have set up a blacksmith shop in New Orleans while taking up residence on Bourbon Street. By 1910, Jean was the leader of a privateering/smuggling operation that had forty warehouses, a fort, ships, cannons and three to five thousand employees.

The organization generally targeted slave ships, but was agreeable to plundering any vessel that might yield a profit. The booty was brought from Barataria Bay through bayous to New Orleans, where Pierre would take care of storage and inventory. Whether the Baratarians deserved the title “pirates” or mere “smugglers” seems to be an issue among historians. But, either way, there was no small irony in the fact that LaFitte rarely got on ships himself. The man who usually dressed in black and tipped his extravagant hats to admirers, tended to get seasickness.

Forget Obama. Pass the Act!

Adam Serwer at the American Prospect has written a piece entitled, "Ending the Eternal Sentence." It observes that Congress is considering the Democratic Restoration Act, which would restore federal voting rights to felons upon release. Currently, the right to vote - believe it or not - cannot be restored short of receiving a presidential pardon - a constitutional duty the Obama administration apparently has zero time for.

Burundi: 4,000 Pardons!

Burundi has 11 prisons with a total capacity of less than 5,000 prisoners. Unfortunately, it is managing over 10,000 prisoners. A solution? This week, more than 4,000 prisoners will be pardoned by President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The pardon applies to persons under 18 years of age, persons sentenced to terms of five years or less, pregnant or lact a ting women and patients with advanced incurable diseases. It will also benefit persons who are at least 60 years old and persons who have received life sentences (now reduced to 20 years).

The pardon will not cover those convicted of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder, voluntary sexual assault, torture, armed robbery, rape, murder, armed-gang theft, embezzlement, violation of internal state safety, po isoning, cannibalism, forgery and use of false documents, sale, cultivation, transportation of drugs for profit, or incitement of prison riots. See story here.

Martin Van Buren's Geographic Mercy

Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York, and the son of a local tavern keeper. He was raised and educated in New York and admitted to the bar in 1803. He served as a State Senator from 1812 to 1820 and a United States Senator from 1821 to 1828. New York elected him as its Governor in 1820, but Van Buren would wind up having little time to gain experience with the pardoning power in that position.

Less than two months after his election, Andrew Jackson chose him to be Secretary of State. Van Buren played the role of faithful Vice President from 1833 to 1837 then won the presidential election of 1836. He gathered fifty-one percent of the popular vote and the electoral votes of fifteen (of twenty-five) states. But a glance through Van Buren’s two hundred and forty one individual acts of clemency reveals he did not forget his roots.

Benjamin Harrison, Pardons and Military Mercy

In his 1897 work, This Country of Ours, Benjamin Harrison called the pardoning power "one of the great executive powers." Harrison described the power to pardon as a remedy for "rigidity" in the criminal code, "the liability to error of every human tribunal" and the discovery of "new evidence" or "extenuating facts." But, he also noted that it was "not a pleasant thing to have the power of life and death. No graver or more oppressive responsibility can be laid upon a public officer."

Harrison's book also noted there was "an increasing amount of pardon business" coming to the desk of the President and he "often has many cases waiting." In March of 1890, the New York Times reported Harrison “stirred up the whole army establishment” by remitting the unexpired portion of a one-year sentence imposed upon trooper Dell P. Wild of the Eight Cavalry at Fort Yates, North Dakota. A lieutenant had asked Wild to assist him with the placement of a canvass on the roof of a shed behind his personal quarters. When Wild complained that he was not a servant, the lieutenant struck him then had him arrested. Harrison’s pardon came after the United States Senate had passed a resolution calling for the Secretary of War to produce a record of the trial.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oklahoma: Stay of Execution

From the Office of the Governor: In order to review a pending clemency recommendation, Governor Brad Henry has granted a brief stay of execution to an Oklahoma death row inmate.

Richard Tandy Smith, who was convicted of first degree murder in the 1986 shooting death of John Cederlund, originally faced an April 8 execution date, but the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Thursday recommended that the governor commute his sentence to life in prison without parole. Under Gov. Henry’s order, the new execution date is May 4.

Wilbur B. Foshay's Amazing Story

Wilbur Burton Foshay’s first important business venture was the United Gas Improvement Co. of Hutchinson, Kansas. In 1914, he borrowed two thousand dollars and moved to Minneapolis, where he started another utilities outfit. Then, in 1916, he borrowed another six thousand dollars and launched Wilbur B. Foshay Utility Company. The venture, which started with one employee in a small office in the First National-Soo Line Building in Minneapolis, eventually became Foshay Enterprises.

A federal judge once described Foshay's business legacy as a "Napoleonic adventure" in which Foshay discovered that he could sell stocks and securities of utility companies if people believed the companies were making large current incomes on the invested capitol. Indeed, Foshay's basic strategy was to buy up utility companies, manage them, then sell stock in his utility empire. By 1929, he had thousands of employees and many thousands more of investors.

Grant Grants a Pardon

The New York Times beat up on Ulysses S. Grant a bit for a pardon he signed in March of 1874. Ira Gladwin (alias George Gladwin, alias George Gladding) had been convicted of mail robbery and sentenced to a total of fifteen years in prison. But Grant commuted the sentence to seven years and eight months. The pardon was obtained by a woman who was impressed by a fancy writing desk that was hand made by Gladding and wound up in the office of a literary paper in New York. The woman learned the story of the prisoner and decided to personally lobby for a pardon.Eventually, it was said that "many prominent citizens" of Connecticut supported clemency for the unhealthy prisoner Gladwin.

Gladwin left prison and dramatically announced a new life, beyond reproach lay before him. But, on the very day of the announcement, he had passed a bad check. He also took up “George Case” as an alias and passed several more forged checks, for hundreds of dollars, before being caught and arrested once again. The forty-two year old told officials that he was led to crime by an “irresistible impulse.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Jersey: Can Gov. Christie Be Cool?

Two state senators (Raymond Leniak and Nicholas Scutari) are asking Gov. Chris Christie to pardon to 37-year old John Ray Wilson, who was just sentenced to five years in prison for growing marijuana. Wilson's illegal garden patch was discovered by a helicopter in 2008. He claimed he produced materials sufficient to produce herbal jazz cigarettes in order to address the pain and suffering he experienced via multiple sclerosis. With some irony, in just four months, a State law will take effect which will allow use of marijuana for medical purposes. The senators say the case is a "human tragedy" and the sentence is "cruel, unusual and unnecessary." They had asked the previous governor for a pre-trial pardon, but were denied. See story here.

France Asks Texas for Mercy

Bernard Valero, the French ambassador to the United States is calling on the governor of Texas to pardon a death row inmate Hank Skinner, who is scheduled to die Wednesday. Skinner was found guilty of killing a girlfriend and her two adult sons in 1993, but maintains his innocence. Skinner also has a French wife. France is firmly opposed to the death penalty. See story here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hoover v. the DOJ (on Pardons)

Herbert Hoover granted over two hundred and seventy pardons in his second year as President, and more than three hundred in his third. The unexpected swell in clemency, from a relatively calm first year, attracted some curiosity.

On November 9, 1931, the President directed Attorney General William D. Mitchell to “make public” the names of those who supported pardon applications and “the reasons advanced by them for urging clemency.” That is, if the inquiries came from “public officials, or the press.” In response to the President’s request, Mitchell advised the United States Pardon Attorney, James A. Finch, to release the information mentioned by the President, but only in cases where clemency had been granted (as opposed to cases where clemency was denied, or the final decision was still pending). The Pardon Attorney also required those who sought information to know the names of clemency recipients in advance.

The Scales Commutation: Bravery? or Mere Bureaucracy?

Junius Scales was a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, a member of a prominent family and a graduate of the University of North Carolina. But he was also a Communist. That caused him some grief.

Scales found himself indicted on the charge that, from January 1946 to November 18, 1954, he was a member of the Communist Party with knowledge that it advocated violent overthrow of the government. On April 22, 1955, he was sentenced him to six years in prison. On March 26, 1956, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Scales’ appeal. As the case sat on the Court’s docket, Scales renounced his membership in the Party, observing that he was “shaken” by revelations of Stalin’s terror. The Court reversed Scales’ conviction on October 15, 1957, but did not rule on the constitutionality of the membership clause of the so-called Smith Act.

Scales’ striking victory was short-lived.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Amazing Case of Charner Tidwell

On March 22, 1922, Warren Harding granted a pardon to a person that many considered to be the American version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Charner Tidwell was from a well respected family, and just seventeen years old when he was convicted of the murder of one Jim Brown (a husband and father of three children) and sentenced to life in prison.

Bad things seemed to happen to those that were involved in putting young Tidwell away. The constable that arrested him drove his own car under the wheels of a speeding train. The U.S. marshal who detained him died of tuberculosis. The district attorney in the case experienced an "untimely death" as well. So, the judge who sentenced Tidwell, being somewhat superstitious, decided to visit the young man in prison. Unfortunately, the visit happened to come on a day that the prisoners had scheduled a riot. The judge was shot dead in the chest.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ohio: Rutherford B. Hayes' Pardon Rules

As Governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes developed some personal "guidelines" with respect to pardons. First, Hayes suggested a pardon (or a “promise” of one) should never be granted “on the first presentation of the case.” Second, cases should be considered “all together” if “two or more" were "concerned in the crime.” Hayes observed “one is often called the dupe until he is pardoned; then the other becomes the dupe and the pardoned man the leader.” Third, Governor Hayes advised against pardoning any man who was not “provided with employment or the means of subsistence” or had no “friend” to “receive him as he comes out of prison.” Fourth, Hayes maintained that the opinions of judges, prosecuting attorneys "and some intelligent citizen of sound sense” were critical elements in sound clemency decision-making. And his final rule: any and all of the above rules could be “departed from in cases requiring it.”

Quote of the Day: Johnson on Pardon Abuse

"I have been accused of abusing the pardoning power. I have pardoned more men than any other executive but I am glad of it, and I only wish I had pardoned many more. Some of those who abuse me so for pardoning, I dare say, need more pardon than any.[I] did well, yet for these things I was denounced as worse than a rebel." Andrew Johnson

Friday, March 19, 2010

Texas: The Secret Pardon

The Texas Tribune has a can't miss story on the workings of the clemency process in that State. Along the way, it notes that, despite the importance of the decisions that it makes, the seven member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is "one of the least transparent agencies" in State government. It is not required to hold public meetings, does not have to offer explanations for its decisions and documents related to its decision making are not available to the public. In addition, "there are no guidelines in statute or in board rules that outline a basis for decision making." The members, who make from $95,000 to $115,000 a year are not even required to meet before an execution. Materials are faxed to them and they respond via fax! Some are calling for "reform"! No kidding! Read more about the Board and its decision making here here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quote of the Day: John Q. Adams on the Insanity Defense

"They dare not bring forth these pretenses at trial, because they would then be disapproved; but the moment a man is sentenced to die for these offenses that strike at the very existence of human society, religion, humanity, family influence, female weakness, personal importunity, pious fraud, and counterfeit benevolence all join in a holy league to swindle a pardon from the Executive. The murderer is pumped and purged into a saint, or certified into an idiot. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, travel hundred of miles to work by personal solicitation upon the kindly feelings of the President. First, they extort a reprieve, then they worry out indulgences, and finally screw out a pardon. A pardon for willful, deliberate murder!" - John Q. Adams

Retroactive Pardons on the Way?

The New York Times reports (here): Legislation approved by the Senate on a voice vote Wednesday would reduce the disparity in sentences for possessing crack and powder cocaine. Currently, a person convicted of crack cocaine possession gets the same mandatory jail time as someone with 100 times that quantity of powder cocaine. Under the measure, the ratio would be reduced to 18 to 1. A similar bill is pending in the House.

One wonders if President Obama and Mr. Holder will consider a series of retroactive "policy" type pardons or, more likely, commutations of sentence, for those affected by the previous guidelines but who continue to serve time in prison.

Michigan: Senator Supports Clemency

U.S. Senator Carl Levin and several other "high profile" individuals are said to be supporting the clemency application of Thomas Cress, who claims he was wrongly convicted of murder more than two decades ago. A serial killer has confessed to the crime and passed a lie detector test. So, as former witnesses as recanting their own testimony, the detective and chief of police are now convinced of Cress' innocence and there is even a YouTube video out. The Michigan parole board will be holding a hearing to consider the request (for commutation of his life sentence). See story here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quote of the Day: Grover Cleveland on Pardons

I have been listening to many applications, and I shall pardon when I see fit. I shall be a governor until the end of my term, not-withstanding all the would-be governors in the State. I am going to do just as I have a mind to about this pardoning business, whether the newspapers like it or not. [One] of these days I'll grant a pardon just because, in my judgment, it ought to be granted and I shall say that is my reason, and shall not give any other. Justice, mercy, and humanity are the things alone to be considered in the application for a pardon. And if I find a poor fellow is unjustly imprisoned, or there is any good reason why he should be pardoned, I'll pardon, and will not regard the record at all. - Grover Cleveland

Twilight of the Pardon Power?

Former U.S. Pardon Attorney Margaret Colgate Love has a forthcoming article (Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology) now available at SSRN entitled "The Twilight of the Pardon Power." Love looks at pardoning practices in the 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when the pardon power played an important operational role in the federal justice system. She then describes how pardon evolved into parole, and after 1930 came to be used primarily to restore rights of citizenship. The article then examines the reasons for pardon’s decline in the 1980s and its collapse in the Clinton Administration. Finally, she argues that President Obama should want to revive the power, and suggests how he might do it. See full article here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Maryland: Life Means Life

Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun has written an interesting piece entitled, The Sorry Legacy of Life Means Life'. Rodricks notes that it was Governor Parris Glendening (D) who, fifteen years ago, dropped the phrase ("life means life") and announced that he announced that he would never approve parole for inmates serving life terms.Today, there are more than 2,300 Maryland inmates serving life sentences. Glendening's Republican successor, Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. worked with a ten-member, appointed, parole commission, but granted only a handful of paroles to lifers. Then came Martin O'Malley (D), who effectively restored the Glendening policy.

One solution, suggested by two Baltimore legislators, is to remove the governor from the parole system -- and "take politics out of this process." They have proposed legislation would put the power to approve or deny parole with the parole commission. See full story here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Virginia: New Clemency Policy

Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will "break with tradition" in his State by announcing his decisions on clemency for inmates just days before they are to be executed. It is reported that the previous "tradition" was to announce such decisions on the actual day of the execution.

The new policy will, of course, enable the state to avoid the awkwardness of telling those who have traveled far to witness an execution that the proceedings have been cancelled - for whatever reason. It will also allow the condemned to focus their final hours on matters more personal than the technicalities and odds favoring clemency petitions. One is reminded of the not-uncommon practice of presidents to delay executions in order that the condemned might better prepare themselves for the next life! See story here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kentucky: Posthumous Pardons for 44?

That's right. A group of people are trying to get posthumous pardons for 44 Kentuckians who were found guilty of assisting slaves who attempted to escape. See story here,

Becker on Ford's Pardon of Nixon

Last night, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library hosted a lecture by Benton Becker, a key advisor to the President on the pardon of Richard Nixon. More specifically, Becker was asked to research two questions 1) could a pardon be issued before any charges were filed? and 2) does the president have the right to issue a blanket pardon absolving a would-be defendant of whatever charges he may face? Becker filed a response here which gave Ford the "go" signal on both counts. Ford then sent him to Nixon's ranch in order to get Nixon to 1) sign over his presidential papers 2) accept the pardon in writing and 3) to convey to Nixon that acceptance of the pardon was an admission of guilt. See story here.

Rove on Libby, Bush and Pardons

Question: You write that you keep a clipping about Scooter Libby's case to remind yourself of the cost of what happened. We've read that President Bush and Vice President Cheney argued about whether or not there should be a pardon for Libby.

Mr. Rove: I don't know if I would say argued. I'm not sure I would depict it as an argument. I was not there, but there was a discussion.

Question: Did you have a position?

Mr. Rove: This is an intense personal decision by the chief executive. I do know this: Governor Bush was loath to substitute his judgment as a governor for that of the legal system. The pardon power, which for a governor of Texas like the pardon power of the president is unlimited power, frankly concerns him. It's in the constitutions, the state and the national constitutions, but as a result, he is reluctant to exercise it. What I thought was extraordinary about what President Bush did was having this beliefthat absent compelling evidence of a miscarriage of justice that he is loath to substitute his opinion for that of a judge and a jury, that he stepped into the Libby matter and said I'm going to commute the sentence and declare an end to this. It's over. I'm not going to substitute my judgment for that of a judge and a jury absent compelling evidence of a miscarriage of judgment, but I am going to say that the judicial system imposed too serious a penalty.

Question: Do you think he should have gone further and gone for the pardon?

Mr. Rove: I'm going to respect his decision because he was involved intimately in the details of the case and had access to things I didn't have access to. Again, I do think this case shows the difficulty of the criminal justice system being used to referee political disputes. We diminish the criminal justice system when we use it to referee political disputes and we unnecessarily penalize political actors when we do. It went on far too long, exacted too high a cost from everyone involved. And for what reason?

See the complete interview in Pittsburgh Post here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Number of Days Till the First Pardon.

President Obama has gone 414 days without granting a single pardon or commutation of sentence. He will soon pass the ever-popular John Adams (Mr. Alien Sedition Acts), and move into 3rd place, among the very slowest in history. Indeed, this seems very likely, if Obama intends to wait until December to act. Then it is simply a matter of whether or not he will be more negligent than Bush or Clinton.

Washington, incidentally, hardly deserves the same level of disappointment. The colonists had had their fill of the King's abuse of the pardon power and the President, under the Articles of Confederation, could pardon no one. Neither the Virginia Plan nor the New Jersey Plan (at the Constitutional Convention) contained a pardon power. The first draft of the Constitution had no such power either, until a single delegate, working as a committee member, scribbled it into the margin. On top of all of that, of course, is the fact that there were relatively few federal laws to violate, and few criminals for Washington to pardon.

DOJ Data (1945-2009) in Chart Form

I have completed charts on pardons using Department of Justice data from 1945-2009 at the newly created PardonResearch.com (http://pardonresearch.com/doj.htm).These charts once appeared here, in the right column, but readers will find the latest versions are much higher quality and easier to use/manipulate because they are presented in three different forms (.html .pptx and .docx).

Louisiana: Automatic Pardon Not Enough of Pardon

Ernal Broussard had some nerve challenging Francis Touchet, Jr. for a position on the Abbeville City Council. So, Touchet pointed out what any opponent might have pointed out: that Broussard was a convicted felon, recently out of prison, who was never pardoned. On the other hand, it is true that, at the end of his sentence, Broussard was given an "automatic" pardon (from someone) because he had committed a non-violent crime. So, that's why we have courts!

A trial court ruled Broussard was disqualified because 1) he had been out of prison less than 15 years and 2) his pardon did not come from the president or governor. A court of appeals reversed, going so far as to question Broussard's conviction! Finally, the Louisiana State Supreme Court agreed with the trial court, and held Broussard ineligible.

See more on this story here and here.

Texas: Lawyer Disbarred, Pardoned, Angry.

Police say Robert Mustard shot himself in the head after shooting 66-year-old Richard Smith four times in the legs and 39-year-old Christopher Smith in the head and the neck (both men survived the attack). It is reported that Mustard, who received a law degree from Southern Methodist University, was "upset about financial dealings." In the 70s and 80s, he was disbarred and faced compulsory discipline after a conviction for felony bribery. But, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also reports that Mustard received a 10-year sentence, was released on parole on Dec. 4, 1988 and received a full pardon from Governor Bill Clements in 1990. See more on the story here and here. We guess it is time to give Clements the Huckabee treatment! How could he release a violent felon and fail to see what is so obvious almost two decades later?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PardonResearch.Com is on the Way!

I will be building the skeletal outline for PardonResearch.com this morning (until noon or so) and will be constantly posting updated versions as I go. It is also my intention to at least start posting conference papers that used to be housed at PardonPower.com. If you would like to see it all happen, as it happens, feel free to stop by. Likewise, I am open for suggestions, especially in the early stages. Best,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ohio: Reprieve to Rest Up, Recover, for Execution!

Lawrence Reynolds was scheduled to be executed Tuesday morning for a murder he committed way back in 1994. But, instead, he decided to attempt suicide. Apparently, Reynolds' condition is such that he is now quite unsuitable for execution.

So, Governor Ted Strickland has issued a reprieve, delaying the execution for another seven days, and allowing Mr. Reynolds to rest up, recover and get himself back into proper shape for execution!

See story in the Columbus Dispatch here.

More Change: Keeping the Heraclitus Crowd Happy!

The migration progress for PardonPower.com appears to be coming to an end. We continue to add images, fix dead links and adjust this and that. But most of these changes will not even be noticed. It also appears the current three-column spread works in IE, Firefox and Google - which pleases us very much. Now, we are ready to go on to the next big thing:

Tomorrow, we will launch PardonResearch.com in order to provide some of the information that used to appear on this blog and some. PardonResearch.com will serve as the primary starting point for members of the news media who are interested in data and analysis of federal executive clemency or, the president's power to power. The site will include downloadable versions of professional papers, manipulable bibliographies, higher quality graphs and charts and contact information for several pardon experts Nation-wide. Original data will be presented, discussed and - upon request - shared with interested readers. Please find a way to visit us at PardonResearch.com tomorrow!

Watch List: Support for Peltier

Peter Worthington, at the FrumForum, observes 65-year old Leonard Peltier is now starting his 35th year in prison. Among his supporters are Amnesty International, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Members of the European Parliament, David Geffen, Robert Redford and the Belgian and Italian parliaments. And, argues Worthington, "guilt" should no longer be "am issue" for "even if one believes he was guilty, [Peltier] has served enough time and deserves to be free."

In 1975, Peltier was charged with the shooting of two FBI agents at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, near Wounded Knee where, in 1973, there was a highly publicized 71-day siege.He was actually one of four Indians charged, but chose to flee to Alberta. The other three went on trial. One had his charges dismissed and the two others were found not guilty (by reason of self defense). Worthington then summarizes Peltier's misadventures in the court system in a convincing manner.

The piece reminds us that Bill Clinton hinted that he might grant executive clemency to Peltier, "but changed his mind when some 500 FBI agents, retirees and families demonstrated outside the White House." Billionaire David Geffen also lobbied Clinton re Peltier. Worthington also reports Peltier has an "unblemished prison record" but "is going blind from diabetes, has kidney failure and is susceptible to strokes." PardonPower finds this one of the best written, focused, informative and persuasive pieces on this hot topic. See complete piece here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pardon for "Breaker" Morant?

It is reported that the Attorney General of Australia has at last sent a petition to the Queen of England, requesting a posthumous pardon for Lieutenant Harry "Breaker" Morant. Morant was charged with murder and executed by firing squad in 1902, during the Boer War. Says one Commander Unkles:
“The passing of time and the fact that Morant, Handcock and Witton are deceased does not diminish the errors and these injustices must be addressed. The issue is not whether Morant and Handcock shot Boer prisoners, which they admitted to, but whether they were properly represented and military law properly and evenly applied.”
Morant, who actually volunteered to fight for Britain, was charged along with two others when his unit killed 12 prisoners of war and a German witness. The Australians admitted to the shooting, but there were substantial questions regarding the nature of their orders and standard practice. In addition, they were provided no representation until the day before trial and were not allowed to communicate with the Australian government throughout the procedings. One author says, however, that Morant and his co-defendants should not be honored for committing Rule 303 "war crimes." See story here.

California: Manson Family Member to be Paroled?

Bruce Davis, a member of Charles Manson's cheery 1970s “family,” has been recommended for parole after spending almost four decades behind bars for the role that he played in the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea. The recommendation of the Board of Parole Hearings will now go to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 67-year old Davis, who has been denied parole 23 times, is reported to have become a "born-again Christian" and has earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion. Two other "family" members have been paroled (Steve Grogan and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme) while Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel remain in prison. Davis plans to spend time with his family and do some landscaping if released. See story here.

The Authority of PARDON POWER !

Dear Readers,

According to a May 2008 post (or, about 150,000 visitors ago), the Technocrati "authority" figure for this blog was 16. At the time, we were thrilled, as we had no idea whatsoever what that meant, or did not mean!

So, today, we are simply beside ourselves to see that our blog "authority" is well above 400, No, we still do not know what it means, but there it is!


Oklahoma: Recommendation. Objection

Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board has recommended parole for Dennis Shackelford, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1992. The vote was unanimous, but conditioned upon successful completion of 120 days of community-level work release to be followed by psychological counseling. Shackelford has steadily maintained that he had was in fear for the life of his wife and himself and that he acted in self-defense. The family of the victim opposes any early release. See story here.

Migration Nears an End ... We Hope!

It appears that we have finally solved the 24 25 riddles which block the novice from effortless, perfect blog migration. Hearty hat tips to several people who made suggestions along the way - we thought about abandoning the project altogether more than once!. Hopefully, we can get back to blogging without additional major interruption.

We also want recognize that a lot of information was lost in the migration that was data oriented (especially) in the links in the right bar. These may reappear, from time to time, but our current goal is to create a separate site entirely dedicated to the presentation and sharing of data on federal executive clemency.

Thank you for your patience and many kind offers of assistance. Best,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New York: Pardon!

From the Office of the Governor:

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that he has pardoned Qing Hong Wu. Mr. Wu came to the United States from China with his parents at age five. In 2007 and engaged to be married to a United States citizen, Mr. Wu applied to become a United States citizen. Mr. Wu disclosed to United States Immigration officials that he had convictions for robberies which occurred in New York City in 1995 and 1996, for which Mr. Wu served three years in the custody of the former Division for Youth. These convictions require deportation under the inflexible federal immigration law. Mr. Wu was ordered to report to an immigration officer in November 2009 and was detained. He has been in federal custody ever since.

The "Migration" Continues

I continue to solve the problems as my guesses become more and more accurate! I thought I would also inform readers that I am considering going to a new format (being tested here). I have always felt a little column envy whenever I have visited Doug Berman's blog! So, let me know what you think!

Two things: If I go to the other format, 1) I will make the font a little larger and I will 2) house all of the charts and data on a new site - pardondata.com


Friday, March 5, 2010

Apology to Our Readers

Blogger has decided to remove all of its FTP services so people like myself have to "migrate" our blogs elsewhere.

I would feel a lot better if I had any real idea of what that means exactly, but, as it stands, it appears to mean - at least for a while anyway - no pretty pictures and a lot of dead links!

I will address each issue as I learn to resolve it, but beg for you patience - PSR

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Arkansas: 11 Pardons

Governor Mike Beebe has announced his intent to grant 11 pardons. He has also denied 10 requests. Each of the recipients has completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole-and-probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. Among the offenses addressed in the pardons are : Possession of Stolen Property, Embezzlement by Bailee, Possession of Controlled Substance, Robbery, Theft, Battery, Forgery, Possession of Marijuana, Domestic Battery, Breaking and Entering, Theft of Property, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Overdraft, Failure to Appear, Hot Check Violation, Theft of Property, Shoplifting. See story here.

Missouri: Meet Nelson Hopkins, Sr.

The Kansas City News blog has one fascinating piece on Nelson Hopkins Sr., the director of Pardon and Parole Negotiation Services. Hopkins seeks to help ex-cons, but he is said to drop clients like hot rocks if he "catches them in a lie" or if they are "unwilling to take responsibility for their crimes." His "vision" is to:
... repopulate the city's east side with reformed ex-cons -- the people who contributed to the decline of their neighborhoods by committing crimes, getting arrested, and leaving behind fatherless children. "Who else can come tell these young bucks how to live?" Hopkins asks. "We have to use the same people who tore these neighborhoods up. We have to tell them that it's their turn to rebuild the neighborhoods they tore down. 'You did it -- you gon' do it.'"
But Hopkins also believes society must be willing to forgive. So, he educates potential employers about state and federal incentives for hiring felons and offers assistance in writing letters to the governor of Missouri requesting clemency. See this fascinating story here. For additional information, go here.

Texas: Can the Governor Pardon an Innocent Person (That is Actually Living)?

While the Governor has demonstrated the ability to wield his significant clemency powers in the least relevant ways, the Dallas Morning News reports that he may very well be forced to employ them on the behalf of two LIVING persons! Chris Scott and Claude Simmons were released from prison almost five months ago and declared innocent by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday. The two men spent 12 long years in prison for a murder they did not commit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Insights: Dear Mr. President, Yes You Can

 Mark W. Osler is Professor of Law, Baylor University, where he has taught since 2000. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and former federal prosecutor (1995-2000). Professor Osler is an expert on sentencing and, among other things, his writings focus on the problem of inflexibility in sentencing and corrections and the role of mercy in a system that places so much emphasis on retribution. Professor Osler has testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission (2004) and in Congress (2009). He recently served as lead counsel in Spears v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 840 (2009) in which the Court held that sentencing judges can categorically reject the 100:1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines.

PardonPower: Tell us what we need to know about the "Dear Mr. President, Yes You Can" project and describe the role that you play in it?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

OPA / DOJ Memorabilia

For some unknown number of years, the Office of the Pardon Attorney, in the Department of Justice, use to keep a stack of pardon files from the past, somewhere, for whatever reason. It included information regarding successful bids for pardons and commutations and sentence, but also had information on applications that were denied, or never acted upon. The stack was referred to as being made up of "permanent files." Today, the Office no longer houses these materials. They were shipped off to the National Archives sometime around 2002. But, if you are interested in seeing the original list, here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

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