Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arizona: Clemency Mystery

Last August (that is nine months ago), the State's five member Board of Executive Clemency unanimously recommended that 75 year old Bill Macumber be released from prison because there was "substantial doubt" as to his guilt. No, not any of the wishy-washy "rehabilitation" stuff. The man is thought to be innocent!

Macumber was charged with a double homicide in 1974. The murders actually took place in 1962. Governor Jan Brewer (R), on the other hand, denied Macumber's application for clemency without explanation three months after the Board's unanimous recommendation and, it appears, is stonewalling any attempt by anyone to understand why. As it is reported:
When CBS 5 news reporter Sarah Buduson asked Brewer about her decision Tuesday, she said, “It’s a very personal issue. It's a legal matter. At this particular time, I prefer not to comment.” The governor walked away when the reporter attempted to ask the governor several other questions.
Mr. Macumber had no prior criminal record at the time of his arrest and was the father of three young boys. He is also a former U.S. Army vet and has steadily maintained his innocence for more than three decades. To top it all off - another man has actually confessed to having committed the murders! Think it can't possibly get worse? Oh, yes it can! The damning evidence against Mr. Macumber was the testimony of his wife, whom he was about to divorce and go toe to toe with in a custody battle. Her claim was that, twelve years after the murders, her husband suddenly confessed his guilt to her, and her alone! So, the supposed "confession" had the effect of solving the long-unsolved murder and making a court's custody decision less complex!

With all due respect to the Governor, wrongful conviction (or, "injustice") is, in fact, not a "very personal issue" at all. It is very clearly a matter of public interest - which is exactly why Macumber's case was taken up by the Arizona Justice Project in 2000.

It is simply inexcusable to both keep Macumber in prison and provide no explanation whatsoever for doing so. The unanimous decision of the State Board removes the acceptability of this approach for Governor Brewer. Disagreement with the Board is certainly a legitimate option for the Governor. Ignoring the Board altogether and bringing into question its very purpose / existence is a very different matter. PardonPower hopes the media will hammer this point in on a daily basis until the topic is addressed appropriately. Mike Huckabee's supposed "pardon" of Maurice Clemmons was nothing! HERE, on the other hand, is a real pardon controversy with both a clear, deserving target and circumstances well worth the very best scrutiny of the media!

See Macumber website here. See excellent video (including an impressive blow-off by the Governor) of a news report here. See complete story here.


Anonymous said...

That is a disturbing case. Certainly appears to be AT LEAST a reasonable doubt as to this man's guilt. The real distubing part is the Governer refusing to give a reason for denial. Especially with the state's clemency board unamiously recommending clemency.... WOW. What's her deal...?!?!?

Anonymous said...

36 years in prison for a murder who's evidence was testilying testimony from an estranged spouse?

Can our legal system get any worse than this?

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