Thursday, August 4, 2011

The "Pardon" v. Reporting on the Pardon

Newsmax reports that Tim Pawlenty’s camp is "worried" about his "pardon of a convicted sex offender who was later arrested again for criminal sexual conduct with his own daughter." But the report itself well illustrates how Pawlenty's decision making should not be nearly so much of a concern as sloppy writing about it, and the impression that it can make.

The piece says, that Pawlenty "approved in 2008, along with two others on the Minnesota Board of Pardons, a pardon of Jeremy A. Giefer" for his "conviction of having sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 19." Startling, but somewhat stupid. A pardon was not granted. A pardon extraordinary was granted. Such pardons are regulated by Minnesota State law. As a result, Giefer had 1) served his 45-day sentence and 2) maintained a clean record for fourteen years before the pardon extraordinary was granted. His conviction was not overturned. He was not sprung from prison on a technicality and thrown in the streets. That is to say, Giefer could have done what he is charged with now doing regardless of the decision of the Board.

But wait a minute! 45-day sentence for a "convicted sex offender?" What?! Perhaps THAT is where the real story lies! No, not really. Giefer didn't beat a passerby over the head, rape her and leave her unconscious in the street. He was charged with having sex with his 14-year old girlfriend, whom he later married. At the time of the pardon extraordinary, they were still married and had a child. She supported the clemency application. I mean, let's face it, there are sex offenders and then there are sex offenders!

Now, years after the pardon, Giefer is "charged with sexually assaulting" his own daughter more than 250 times from the time she was 9 until she was 16. More shock. Sickening. Disgusting. But Giefer’s attorney says his client will be found innocent. And Pawlenty is so fortunate that none of this information - however horrible - even existed (much less had relevance) when he and the Board granted the pardon extraordinary. Pawlenty must certainly be relieved that his only fault was to apply State law without having perfect God-like vision that could not be called in the question by arm chair critics years after the fact.

Pawlenty has, of course, said the obvious, "Had this new information been available to the board at the time of the pardon request, the pardon should not and would not have been granted.” And he has also asked prosecutors to charge Giefer with perjury if he lied in his clemency application. There really isn't anything more to say. To dig deeper is to look for the bottom of something that isn't even shallow.

See full story here.

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