Saturday, May 20, 2017

Colorado: Illegal Pardon?

Gov. Hickenlooper
The Colorado Statesman reports that George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District (CO) believes Gov. John Hickenlooper has granted an illegal pardon. The pardon was granted to one Rene Lima-Marin, a man who faces deportation after being freed him from State prison. As it happens, Brauchler is also "a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in next year’s election,"

Brauchler claims there are several statutory requirements the governor must meet before granting a pardon:
"There must be an application for a pardon, and that application must be provided by the governor’s office to the current district attorney, the prosecutor who initially prosecuted the applicant, and the sentencing judge ... We never, ever received an application for a pardon. Never ... We never had the victims consulted about a pardon. We never had input with the governor about a pardon. I was caught completely unaware the governor was considering a pardon. ... Seven years must have elapsed since completion of sentence ... In this case, it wasn’t even seven days since he’d been released from custody.”
Brauchler also notes Hickenlooper has numerous applications for pardons and sentence commutations approved by the governor’s Executive Clemency Advisory Board. But Hickenlooper has taken no action on them. “Where are they?” Brauchler asked. “They all complied with the law.”

State Sen. Owen Hill, who sponsored legislation last month calling on Hickenlooper to grant clemency to Lima-Marin, says “Reuniting Rene with his family is the right thing to do for him, his wife and his children,” State Sen. Dominick Moreno adds, “The governor’s authority to pardon Mr. Lima-Marin is pretty clear from my point of view,” State Rep. Joe Salazar is confused as to why Brauchler even cares. "Seems to me that once the judge freed Lima-Marin, Brauchler became irrelevant,”

The Statesman observes "the state constitution gives Colorado’s governor nearly limitless authority to grant reprieves, clemency and pardons — except in cases of treason." But, in 1978, "a state appeals court decision that ruled a 1978 pardon invalid because it hadn’t been issued in accordance with state law and the established procedures."

Hickenlooper has only granted clemency twice in his more than six years in office. His immediate predecessor, Democrat Bill Ritter, pardoned 42 in a single term. Bill Owens granted 13 pardons across eight years in office. Roy Romer granted more than 50 over the 12 years, and Dick Lamm granted more than 150 in the same period of time. See story here.

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