Monday, June 14, 2010

Arizona: Times on the Macumber Outrage

Adam Liptak (pictured on the right) of the New York Times has provided a marvelous service by drawing attention to a case originating in a state where there is so much recent concern about criminal procedure, due process of law and individual rights: Arizona. The State's five member Board of Executive Clemency board believes a 74-year old man sitting in prison, William Macumber, is innocent and has recommended that he be released immediately. But Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer (R) has not only ignored the board's unanimous recommendation, she also refuses to provide an explanation for keeping Macumber behind bars.

Macumber was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1962 murder of a couple in the desert. Most of the "evidence" against him came from his own wife, whom he was in the process of divorcing. The jury heard nothing of the individual who confessed the murders (to a lawyer and future judge, a second lawyer and a psychiatrist) just five years afterward.

Liptak notes, "It is possible that politics played a role in her decision; Ms. Brewer, a Republican who became governor last year, is running for a full term in November." This sentiment is shared by a lawyer with the Arizona Justice Project (Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University), which has represented Mr. Macumber for a decade now. P.S. Ruckman, Jr. notes:
“Common-sense notions of justice should compel a governor to provide an explanation for imprisoning a man deemed innocent by an official board created to make such judgments ... You don’t imprison a man for no reason.”
In fairness, it should be noted that a "spokesman" for the governor does assure all that "every" clemency application is "carefully scrutinized" and that Governor Brewer "balances the very real and important concepts of public safety, justice and mercy.” Liptak notes Macumber is "in failing health, with heart problems and arthritis, and the threat he poses to public safety is not obvious." See complete story here. Read more about the case here.


Bob Macumber said...

I am Bill Macumbers brother and live in Rockford Il. I know more on the facts of the case if you might be interested. I believe my brother to be innocent. No one in our family has ever believed Bill to be guilty. I was at the board hearing in Phoenix.

Bob Macumber

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

EDITOR: Bob, I would love to talk with you about this case. Please let me know how I can contact you.


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