Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Obama's Commutation for a Typo? B-O-R-I-N-G !

Once upon a time, (or, more specifically, on January 11, 1904), Kid Kelley murdered one Jim Dillingham at Tishomingo (in "Indian Territory"). Kelley was convicted on November 28, 1905, and sentenced to be hanged on February 23, 1906. The hanging was delayed while the case was appealed, but things seemed to settle a bit once the conviction was upheld by the Indian Territory Court of Appeals (on September 26, 1907). A “writ of error” was allowed, however, and on October 10, the case was forward to the United States’ Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which granted a stay of execution.

That is when Oklahoma became the 46th State in the Union.

The files for Kid Kelley's case were transferred from the United States' Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to the newly created Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma. But that court packed them all right back up and sent them over to the newly created Criminal Court of Appeals (in the Federal system). On April 9, 1909, the Attorney General of the United States filed a motion to have Kelley's case removed from the docket of the Criminal Court of Appeals. In his mind, the "final decision" had been rendered by the Indian Territory Court of Appeals way back in 1907. The Criminal Court of Appeals agreed with the Attorney General on November 18, 1909.

But while the big debate over whether the case should be settled in the state's judicial system or the federal judicial system, the Indian Territory Court of Appeals went out of existence. State officials - including the Governor - contended Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction over Kelley's case and suggested Federal authorities step in.

Kid Kelley sat in prison and waited.

And he waited some more.

Ten years later, he was still waiting.

The New York Times credited an Oklahoma newspaperman for discovering this mess and setting in motion a “movement” to have Kelley released ... or hanged! Finally, in 1922, the Attorney General of the United States took charge. First, the Attorney General concluded that it “appeared from the testimony” a more proper charge for the Kelley case would have been “manslaughter.” It was then observed that Kid (who was not much of a kid any more) had, by that time, been in custody for over seventeen years - almost twice the length of the sentence one could be given for the crime of manslaughter. Kelley’s sentence was commuted to time served “at once.”

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