Thursday, October 21, 2010

Arizona: Nightline to Focus on Brewer's Behavior

The Arizona Guardian reports that Jan Brewer's brutalization of the State's justice system "is about to get a national audience." That is because an ABC-TV "Nightline" reporter recently flew William Macumber's son to Arizona so he could ask Brewer "in person" why she denied an application for a commutation of sentence for his seventy-five year old father, who is deemed innocent by the Arizona Justice Project and the State's own Board of Executive Clemency. The Guardian says the show will air next week.

At a recent press conference, Brewer illustrated the depth of her thinking on the matter by explaining why she believes William Macumber is in prison:
"I took an oath to uphold the constitution and do what is right for the people of Arizona. I know it's hard as a child that you're faced with this in your lifetime. But he was found guilty by two different juries and I feel very comfortable with my decision."
Of course, Macumber's son is familiar with his own father's conviction, and generally aware of the fact that people are very rarely thrown in prison without being convicted! But, what Governor Brewer has yet to address is the world of information that has arisen post-conviction - something the State's Board of Executive Clemency actually did take the time to do!

Nor has Governor Brewer ever had the courtesy to explain to the State Board what flaw(s) she sees in the Board's unanimous decision to recommend clemency for Macumber. Apparently Brewer believes persistent rudeness and public disrespect for State institutions in matters spectacularly serious is also part of her oath! Regardless, Jan Brewer appears to be too bone-headed (or too mired in the very worst sort of political calculation) to recognize any of the following (as reported by the Guardian):
Macumber was first arrested after his wife, Carol, told her bosses at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that he had recently confessed to murdering a couple in Scottsdale in 1962. The Macumbers were in the midst of a divorce and custody battle over their three sons, and Carol Macumber was a focus of an internal investigation at MCSO.

A jury convicted Macumber of the murders, based largely on Carol's testimony. But jurors never heard that years earlier a man named Ernie Valenzuela told two attorneys, a jail psychiatrist and cellmates that he had killed the couple. Valenzuela's confession has never been admitted into evidence, even with permission from his mother after Valenzuela's death in a prison stabbing in 1973.

"I represented the guy who committed the murders, and I'm convinced that he did," said Thomas O'Toole, a retired Maricopa County Superior Court judge who was Valenzuela's federal public defender on another murder case in 1967. "He told me in great detail how the murders were committed."

O'Toole offered to testify on Macumber's behalf during the 1974 trial, but the judge disallowed it as hearsay. He came forward again in 2000 to suggest that the nascent Arizona Justice Project take up Macumber's case.
Duane Belcher, the chairman and executive director of Arizona's Board of Executive Clemency says he cannot recall a case "in more than two decades" where the Board has been in such doubt about a prisoner's guilt. But, no. These are complexities which cannot be considered in Jan Brewer's secretive system of justice. All she knows is, the man was convicted! Brilliant! Pontius Pilot is cheering in his grave! See Guardian story here. See PardonPower's previous coverage of Macumber's case here.


Anonymous said...

Shocking to say the least. It is situations like this, that leave the average person contemplating motives of public officials. This IS one of the best cases for clemency out there, IMO (based on the facts presented). It is disgusting that Gov Brewer will not at the minimum, reasonably explain her position. Under the circumstances, with the board having unanamously recommending clemency, her lack of explanation, only fuels peoples disdain for politicians, & their implied abuse of power, or lack of use. This is a great example of an opprotunity for the clemency power to make right of a terrible injustice

Anonymous said...

Political fidgures do not want to be wrong at any cost, just look at Barny Frank or Richard Nixon.

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