Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Arizona Lawmakers: Just Say No

KJZZ reports that "more than two dozen state lawmakers" have signed a letter "demanding no presidential pardon for the former sheriff of Maricopa County." It is reported that the letter argues a pardon would weaken respect for the law and President Trump "needs to know that once you tamper with justice you’ve lost all trust” (says Rep. Cesar Chavez). Sen. Martin Quezada goes further and says such a pardon would amount to an endorsement of racism and hatred. 25 Democrats signed the letter. See story here.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Arizona: Mercy, Especially (Just About Always) for The Dying

ABC 15 reports Gov. Jan Brewer will be concluding her last year in office "by continuing her pattern of granting few clemency petitions and typically to those who are inmates on the verge of death." In 2014, she granted five commutations "for prisoners released to die with their families."

It is reported that Brewer "averaged about seven commutations per year since she took office in 2009" and "two each year typically were for reasons other than imminent death."

More notably, in 2014, Brewer rejected 12 recommendations for commutation of sentence from Arizona's Board of Executive Clemency, the individuals appointed by the State to learn / know more about each clemency application than anyone. Per her tradition, Governor Brewer gives no specific reason for her clemency decisions. In the case of William Macumber - whose guilt was in grave doubt, at least in the Board's mind - Brewer gave no explanation at all for ignoring the Board's recommendation. Good Bye Gov. Brewer. You will not be missed. See full story here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Arizona: Jan Brewer's Continuing Train Wreck

On November 24, 2009, the Arizona state Board of Executive Clemency recommended clemency (a reduction in sentence) for 65-year old Patrick Maloney, who had been convicted of murdering his mother and stepfather almost a half a century ago, when he was 15 years old. Brewer has also reduced the sentence of Betty Smithey, who was sentenced to life without parole in 1963 for killing a child, but was paralyzed when the same Board recommended clemency for William Macumber, on the grounds of actual innocence! See story here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shock! Arizona's Jan Brewer Nightmare

AZ Central reports five former members of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency "say that Gov. Jan Brewer, working through a top staff member, regularly strong-armed them not to grant clemency to state prisoners whose cases came before the board." Three - Duane Belcher, Ellen Stenson and Marilyn Wilkens - even claim that they were fired by Brewer for votes recommending clemency. Belcher had actually served on the Board for 20 years. The other two members (Jesse Hernandez and Melvin Thomas) resigned. Statements from all five are now part of suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Edward Schad, who is scheduled for execution on October 9.

Brewer's purge of the Board was said to have been prompted by the case of William Macumber, a case followed with great interest by the Editor of the blog (see former posts here). The short version is that the State's Board found considerable doubt as to Macumber's guilt and recommended clemency. Gov. Brewer not only disagreed, she refused to issue any public statement regarding the case. After months of media hounding, she grudgingly offered the kind of meaningless, substantively hollow explanation you would expect from a public official contemptuous of the officials she appointed to examine the case with great care and angry at the very thought of having to justify her own decision making. Macumber is now, thankfully, a free man. See full story here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Arizona: Jan Brewer's Clemency Train Wreck Continues

This blog has followed the train wreck that is Governor Jan Brewer for years - our interest first being peaked when the State clemency board she appointed recommended clemency for William Macumber, whose guilt was in serious doubt. Brewer simply ignored the Board and repeatedly refused to explain (much less justify) her decision when asked by reporters and family members. Brewer unmistakably carried herself as a kind of Mayberry tyrant, above the law, accountable to no one, and damn proud of it.  

It later dawned on Brewer that, the best way to avoid such hassle in the future would be to remove three members of the five-member Board and replace them with persons less likely to care if their considered judgement about guilt, innocence, justice, blah, blah, blah, is loudly ignored! The result? Today, AZCentral reports:
... recently departed state Board of Executive Clemency chief Jesse Hernandez unsuccessfully tried to help shorten the prison sentence of NBA superstar Amar’e Stoudemire’s half brother after Hernandez had established a relationship with the one-time Phoenix Suns player ...
In fact, Hernandez "suddenly quit" last week after an investigation revealed found no less than nine cases of inappropriate behavior! Says AZCentral:
Gov. Jan Brewer, who has made personnel reform a priority of her administration, named Hernandez executive director and board chairman last year despite his not having any criminal-justice experience.
See full story here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Forthcoming Book: Manifest Injustice

PardonPower is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of a new book on the case of William Macumber. It is appropriately entitled, Manifest Injustice and is subtitled, The Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers who Fought for His Freedom. It written by Barry Siegel.

Interested readers can order the book on here. One can also search the contents of the text and see that this blog, and its Editor, are given some attention in the story-line and, for this, we are very very proud. This looks to be a great read!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Macumber Case Coverage

The Daily Mail is reporting on the case of William Macuber here

The New York Daily News has written on the case as well, here

See our own coverage of the case here

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Arizona: At Last, Justice for Bill Macumber !!! reports that 77-year old Bill Macumber, imprisoned almost four decades for the killing of two 20-year-olds "pleaded no contest Wednesday to second-degree murder charges in a move that secured his freedom."  He maintained his innocence from the start.

The Arizona Justice Project has worked for Macumber's release, noting "no DNA evidence linked him to the crimes, his wife framed him; and another man had confessed to the killings."

The State's clemency board told Gov. Jan Brewer that "an injustice has been done in the case, and there was substantial doubt that Macumber was guilty of the crimes." But Brewer denied the recommendation "to either commute the sentence to time served or reduce it to 35 years to life in prison." She then stonewalled press inquiries regarding her reasons for the denial.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

T. Roosevelt Does His Thing

In February of 1903, Theodore Roosevelt commuted the one-year prison sentence of one John Bolan of Arizona. The U.S. Attorney General had carefully reviewed the case and decided that Bolan's offense was deliberately committed with "full knowledge" of both the law and the "consequences."

As a result the Attorney General advised Roosevelt that Bolan's application for a commutation of sentence should be denied. The sentence, however, was commuted by Roosevelt to expire at once! Bolan's offense? "Engaging in a pugilistic encounter."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Arizona: Clemency from Brewer?

Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic is reporting on the case of 69-year old Betty Smithey, who has served 49 years of a "life sentence without the possibility of parole." Smithey was convicted for the murder of a child in 1963. Requests for clemency have been denied by two previous governors and Smithey now deals with the likes Jan Brewer, "who has granted the fewest clemency requests of any Arizona governor in the past 20 years."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Arizona: Brewer's Charade

The Arizona Republic correctly notes the assertion that a state clemency is guilty of "incompetency" is a "novel development in the nation's long-running fight over the death penalty. Only in Arizona." Well, only in Jan Brewer's Arizona!

The Republic notes the State's "clemency" board "is intentionally stacked to avoid recommending clemency" because Brewer "so dislikes granting forgiveness." Which raises the obvious question: "then why bother with a "clemency" charade at all?"

Brewer's "stunning mass-firing of three clemency-board members earlier this year" included "longtime chairman Duane Belcher and Marilyn Wilkens, who was appointed in 2010 by Brewer herself." As a result, the "mandate" of the new clemency board "could not be clearer. Trouble this governor with clemency recommendations at your peril."  See story here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Arizona: Inside Jan Brewer's Cluster

Bob Ortega has written an excellent piece at the Arizona Republic on clemency in that state. It begins with this happy note:
Statistically, if you are convicted of a felony in Arizona, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than granted clemency by the governor. Excluding the cases of inmates nearing the end of a terminal illness, Brewer is on track to grant the fewest clemency cases in more than two decades -- even when a judge and unanimous board recommend a shorter sentence. Recent board members interviewed by The Arizona Republic believe clemency will be granted even less frequently in the future.
Ortega says Arizona adopted increasingly inflexible mandatory sentences over the last 30 years and the state's prison population has increased "eight-fold." Meanwhile, clemency has decreased, in part, because budget cuts "have reduced the number of clemency cases the board can hear to one-fourth as many as three years ago." The result is a "nearly two-year, 900-case backlog." The costs?
This withering of clemency brings both personal fallout, in ruined lives and separated families, and a financial cost to taxpayers, who pay to house and feed inmates [at $22,000 a year] who could otherwise be working and paying taxes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Arizona: Working Around the Nightmare that is Jan Brewer

Tulsa Today is reporting on Senate Joint Resolution 46 which would removed the governor from the parole process for nonviolent criminals, saving the state money and allowing the governor to focus on more important things. The State's Legislature has already passed House Bill 2131 "which essentially will remove the Governor from the parole process for nonviolent crimes."  It allows the Governor thirty days to consider recommendations. If the Governor takes no action, the board's recommendation is upheld. These efforts certainly make a great deal of sense given Governor Jan Brewer's disastrous course of action in the Bill Macumber case. See full story here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

North Carolina: Relevant, Legitimate Pardon Stumps the State

While the State's legislature fritters away time (and taxpayer dollars) quarreling over the meaningless irrelevant pardon of little known dead persons (who sought no pardon when they were alive), here is what is going on in the real world, right under their own noses:

Ashville's Citizen-Times is reporting on one Scott Pierpoint, who was convicted of raping a six-year old child, his own step-son, back in 1990. Two years later, Judge George Fountain sentenced Pierpoint to life in prison "largely on the boy's faulty testimony and that of an Asheville doctor who said the child had been abused." The sentence was a far cry from an original offer of one year and probation! But Scott Pierpoint claimed, all along, that the charges were false and drummed up by his wife, as a feature of a bitter divorce process. Pierpoint's family lost their home because of the costs of legal fees and his appeal failed. So, he settled into prison for 17 years, 8 months and 24 days in prison ... until the state decided that he was actually innocent!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unfortunate Response to Brewer's Incompetence

The Phoenix New Times blog reports that a group of state representatives "has introduced a bill that would strip the governor of the power to commute prison sentences and hand it over to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency." The legislation, formally titled The Arizona Commutation Reform Act, was introduced by Reps. Cecil Ash, Daniel Patterson, Tom Chabin, Brenda Barton, Eric Meyer, Kate Brophy McGee, Richard Miranda, Peggy Judd, David Burnell Smith, and Catherine Miranda, as well as Sen. Ron Gould.

Apparently, the governor rejects about 84 percent of cases recommended to the governor by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency are rejected each year. Over the last six years, only 53 cases out of 340 total have been approved by the governor. The result is an estimated $25.7 million dollars in revenue spent in order to house prisoners that the board has recommended for clemency.

Then, the part of the story we are particularly fond of:
The legislation comes in the wake of a controversy over the governor's refusal to commute a man's sentence despite the board's unanimous recommendation that he be released from prison. William Macumber (pictured above) is the first man in Arizona history to be unanimously recommended for clemency by the board without a DNA exoneration. Macumber first applied for clemency December 15, 2008. On August 25, 2009 the board unanimously recommended in a letter to the governor that he be released, partly because of his "extraordinary accomplishments" in prison but also because of the "substantial doubt that Mr. Macumber is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted."

That "substantial doubt" stems from the fact that his wife, who worked in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office at the time of the murders, reported to her supervisors that he had "confessed" the crime to her -- a claim she made while they were going through a nasty divorce. Her son now believes that his mother framed his father, and so, apparently, does the parole board.

But Brewer didn't see it that way. In November 2009, she denied him clemency, but declined to elaborate.
Indeed! See our coverage of Brewer's wildly inappropriate behavior here. See full story here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010

Here, in our humble opinion are the Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010. Each item is also linked. Simply click on the associated number. Oh, and by the way, sorry, no Billy the Kid nonsense here:

Number 10: The Mighty Quinn - When former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was run out of office, he left a stack of literally thousands of clemency applications behind, some dating back more than a decade. His replacement, Pat Quinn (D) promised to address the applications as best as he could, in a more timely fashion. In his mind, timely attention is implicit in the very notion of a just application process. Quinn kept his word.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arizona: Nightline Examines Macumber Case Tonight

See Nightline posting on story here!

See our own previous posts on the story here!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Arizona: Nightline to Focus on Brewer's Behavior

The Arizona Guardian reports that Jan Brewer's brutalization of the State's justice system "is about to get a national audience." That is because an ABC-TV "Nightline" reporter recently flew William Macumber's son to Arizona so he could ask Brewer "in person" why she denied an application for a commutation of sentence for his seventy-five year old father, who is deemed innocent by the Arizona Justice Project and the State's own Board of Executive Clemency. The Guardian says the show will air next week.

At a recent press conference, Brewer illustrated the depth of her thinking on the matter by explaining why she believes William Macumber is in prison:
"I took an oath to uphold the constitution and do what is right for the people of Arizona. I know it's hard as a child that you're faced with this in your lifetime. But he was found guilty by two different juries and I feel very comfortable with my decision."
Of course, Macumber's son is familiar with his own father's conviction, and generally aware of the fact that people are very rarely thrown in prison without being convicted! But, what Governor Brewer has yet to address is the world of information that has arisen post-conviction - something the State's Board of Executive Clemency actually did take the time to do!

Arizona: Brewer Still Drunk With Power

ABC 15 reports that Governor Jan Brewer (R) "abruptly ended her own press conference" yesterday when asked about her decision to refuse clemency - without explanation - to a man deemed innocent by the Arizona Justice Project and the State's own Board of Executive Clemency.

In Brewer's defense, over the past year, she has provided excessively insulting boiler-plate commentary on her decision, which could be applied to any other clemency decision that she has made - e.g.,"It's an unfortunate situation. I appreciate your concerns. But I have made my decision and it's final." Brewer has not, however, ever even attempted to address the decision making of the State's Board.

So, yesterday, Brewer was asked:
"He's 75. He's got heart problems and arthritis ... To say that he's a threat to public safety? Why won't you release him?"
ABC 15 says Brewer - like any 17th century queen drunk with power - was "surprised" by the question. It has only been tossed at her a half dozen times now! And, because she can, she turned on her heels and walked away. See ABC 15 report here.

See our previous commentary on Brewer's abuse of power here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Arizona: Jan Brewer's Face Time and Bill Macumber

Dave Biscobing, of (Arizona) has filed an excellent report on the case of Bill Macumber, who has spent the past 35 years in jail despite considerable doubt re his actual guilt. Macumber’s wife was the one who actually turned him. At the time, they were in the middle of a heated divorce and child-custody battle. She was also under investigation at the sheriff's office, where she worked and had access to files containing what little evidence there was against her former husband. To top it off, another man confessed to the murders years before Macumber was arrested - a fact that his trial jury did not know.

Biscobing claims ABC15 "has reviewed thousands of pages of documents, reports and records and spent months speaking with people close to case." He notes Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop were murdered on May 23, 1962. Twelve years later, Carol Macumber, an employee of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, fingered her husband as the killer and a bullet casing and a palm print were quite enough to send him to prison. Biscobing notes "she had access to case records, fingerprints and files, according to lawyers and records. She also practiced fingerprinting on Bill when she first started her job."

Ernie Valenzuela, a self-proclaimed serial killer, was defended by Tom O’Toole who reports Valenzuela "described the McKillop / Sterrenberg killings in detail" and gave himself credit for the murders on five different occasions "to five other people, including a cellmate, another lawyer and psychologists."

Then, of course, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency recently took up the case and Macumber "became the only non-DNA case in history where the board has unanimously recommended his release." The Board found "substantial doubt" of Macumber's guilt and recommended that Governor Jan Brewer correct the "miscarriage of justice" via executive clemency. In an exceptionally freakish and whimsical abuse of power, Brewer ignored the recommendation and, for months, refused to even comment on the case. The silence was then followed by a series of non-specific, generic explanations which appeared to be deliberately aimed at adding insult to injury.

Biscobing now notes that Brewer has built up a "four-year backlog of clemency cases" (one might recall the clemency handiwork of former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich). Face time on late night cable television barking about borders is Jan Brewer's gig. Justice? Not so much. See full story here.

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