Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Mexico: Kid Dead. Pardon Idea Should Follow Suit

The Washington Times notes Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has "just a few days left in his second and final four-year term in office, and will spend some of it deciding whether to grant a petition to pardon Billy the Kid."

Margaret Colgate Love says the stunt "demonstrates a kind of trivialization of the pardon power" and "doesn't bear any relationship to the needs of real people in the criminal justice system" that Richardson "should be addressing." She also notes that, in the only two cases of federal pardons for dead persons (Henry Flipper and Charlie Winters), both were proven to be reputable citizens - a category that no sober person has ever placed Billy the Kid in. Finally, Ms. Love asserts that, if Gov. Richardson "had spent even a quarter of the time addressing the real-life difficulties of the citizens of his state ... as he has on this silly publicity stunt, his state would be a lot better off."

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. (the Editor of this blog) calls the potential pardon "wildly inappropriate" and wishes Richardson would choose some other constitutional power to denigrate, like a "proclamation" or executive order. "Pardons," he says "should be for living people." Ruckman also asks, if this really such a pressing issue of justice, why didn't Richardson grant the pardon years and years ago? Why has he had it on the plate all of this time, but has chosen his final days in office as the decision making period?

The previous governor of New Mexico, an incredibly sensible fellow named Gary E. Johnson (R), summarily dismissed the notion of a pardon for the long dead murderer noting, "the purpose of a pardon is to restore somebody's civil rights - as Billy the Kid is deceased, he is not in need of restoration of his rights."

Apparently, the best argument for the pardon that the lawyer who submitted the clemency petition can come up with is that we will "continue to relive our mistakes" if the kid who murdered two law enforcement officers and has been dead over 100 years ago is not pardoned. While tossing out language truly worthy of a calendar, or bumper sticker, no examples of such repetition are cited or, evidently, even known. Perhaps a book deal will be forthcoming. See story here.

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