Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mississippi: Illegal pardons?

Channel 16 WAPT reports Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood "is taking legal action in response to pardons issued by outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour." In particular, Hood is concerned about five inmates Barbour pardoned on Friday, all trusties at the Governor's Mansion and 4 of 5 convicted of murder. Hood says Barbour has violated the state Constitution because "the pardon requests from the inmates were not published 30 days in advance, as required. State law requires that before the governor can grant a pardon, sufficient public notice must be given." So, he is asking Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green to block the release of the inmates. See story here. The State Constitution reads:
In all criminal and penal cases, excepting those of treason and impeachment, the Governor shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, to remit fines, and in cases of forfeiture, to stay the collection until the end of the next session of the Legislature, and by and with the consent of the senate to remit forfeitures. In cases of treason he shall have power to grant reprieves, and by and with consent of the senate, but may respite the sentence until the end of the next session of the Legislature; but no pardon shall be granted before conviction; and in cases of felony, after conviction no pardon shall be granted until the applicant therefor shall have published for thirty days, in some newspaper in the county where the crime was committed, and in case there be no newspaper published in said county, then in an adjoining county, his petition for pardon, setting forth therein the reasons why such pardon should be granted.
Mississippi Constitution, 1972 Article V § 124. A spokeswoman for Barbour says, "The burden to publish is on the person seeking the pardon. The governor has the constitutional authority to pardon."

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