Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ricky Ray, Karla Faye and Keith Cooper

According to the Washington Post, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Mike Pence "has issued only three pardons in Indiana since he took office in 2012." The Post notes that, in contrast, his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, "issued more than 60 during his eight years" as governor of Indiana. The Post probably should have also noted Daniels granted only 1 request in his first four years.

In addition, there is the case of Keith Cooper, which the Post describes as "complicated." Cooper and another suspect were arrested for attempted murder and armed robbery in 1997. Cooper claimed he had never even met his co-defendant, but matched a description, was convicted and given a 40-year prison sentence. The Post says "evidence of Cooper’s innocence surfaced years later."

DNA from a hat left at the crime scene "belonged to someone else." It was later traced to another man who had committed a murder in Michigan some years later. Victims and eyewitnesses have also "since recanted their original statements about Cooper" and have accused a police detective of "manipulating" them into "identifying" him. Consequently, Cooper left prison in 2006, after serving less than 10 years. Amazingly:
... Cooper’s co-defendant, Parish, had been exonerated. In 2005, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned his conviction. Parish also had won a civil rights lawsuit against Elkhart County officials, along with a nearly $5 million settlement ...
However, the Post reports, a judge gave Cooper "two options." He could "pursue a new trial" and possibly remain in prison a few more years, awaiting the outcome, or he could "accept a deal" allowing him to exit prison with his felony conviction "intact." Cooper chose a "deal" in 2006, but is now seeking a new trial ... and a pardon ... from Mike Pence.

Hard not to recall candidate Bill Clinton trying to out "law and order" his Republican opponent by allowing the execution of the "mentally insufficient" African-American Ricky Ray Rector, in 1992. Hard not to think of George W. Bush's seeming callousness toward the reformed Karla Faye Tucker, who was executed in 1998.

Pence’s general counsel says Cooper must exhaust all of his appeal options in court before petitioning for a pardon. The judicial process must first take its course. Blah. Blah. Everyone with even casual familiarity with the pardon power (state or federal) knows such matters constitute no real limitation on a governor's use of the pardon power, or a president's ... unless they chose to make such things a limitation. This a matter of discretion, not law. The truly critical thing here is how Pence uses the power given to him and the discretion he has to employ that power.

Posing as if he is constricted by law is ... quite unimpressive ... a giant red flag.

See full story here.

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online