Monday, September 6, 2010

Wyoming: Ineligible for Clemency?

Today the Wyoming Star Tribune Editorial Board argues that, if a load of evidence shows that a man on death row is clearly innocent, the governor should proceed with the execution of the man, without hesitation, if he (the governor) was somehow acquainted with the prisoner personally, in the past. That is to say, if you ever happen to make the governor's acquaintance, then you are no longer qualified for justice within that State! OK, that is not exactly what the Editorial Board is arguing. But it does aim to convince us that pardons "should not be based on friendships" - just in case there is anyone out there who is wildly in favor of that position!

More specifically, the Board is critical of the fact that former District Attorney Kevin Meenan, who plead guilty to forgery and identity theft (and got probation) seven years ago, was recently pardoned by Gov. Dave Freudenthal. As it turns out, the two men were friends back in law school. The Editorial Board says, "the message sent was unmistakable." It was? A man was pardoned five years after he completed his two-year sentence for probation and there was a "message" sent? and it was "clear"? Here it is (according to the Board):
Justice is supposed to be blind, but in Natrona County, it has been able to see well enough to look out for a former DA who is still well-connected.
Actually, it appears that the Board has problems with much much more than the pardon. It complains that Meenan "received no jail time" and that "eight other felony charges" were "dropped" in a "plea agreement." As a result, he was "only" required to "resign from his position, pay $300 to the Victims Compensation Fund and perform 200 hours of community service." In sum, the Board has a problem with the entire justice system, but wants to take it out on the Governor's power to pardon!

The Board notes that District Judge Keith Kautz of Torrington, who knows the case "inside-out" opposed Meenan's clemency application. The Board does not particularly emphasize that the special prosecutor in the case, a police chief and several other State judges supported the application. The application was even supported by one of the victims of Meenan's criminal behavior. Presumably, she knew something about the case too!

In sum, there is no reason in the world for any right minded person to think the Governor's decision to extend clemency was there mere by-product of "friendship." See entire editorial here.

1 comment:

margy love said...

Problem with Meenan grant is that Governor has done so few for ordinary people (that is, people he didn't go to law school with). There have only been 22 pardons in Wyoming in past six years - so naturally one like this attracts criticism.

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