Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Brown: 132 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports Gov. Jerry Brown has "granted 132 pardons and commuted 19 sentences" continuing "his tradition of Christmastime clemency." Those pardoned "had already completed their sentences, the majority of which were for drug-related or other nonviolent crimes."According to the Times, "Since beginning his third term as governor in 2011, Brown has pardoned more than 1,000 people — far more than his most recent predecessors, according to figures provided by the governor’s office. See story here.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

California: Commutations of Sentence

Governor Jerry Brown commuted the sentences of nine men and women, including "a woman convicted of first-degree murder in Bakersfield." Mary Stroder's sentence was commuted to "25 years to life," which now makes her eligible for parole.  Five other murderers had their sentences commuted as well. See story here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

California: Notable Pardons, for Deportees

The Times of San Diego notes Governor Brown has granted pardons to three veterans who were deported:

Erasmo Apodaca, an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, was convicted of burglary (for breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s house). After serving one year of his sentence, and being released early for good behavior, he was deported.

Marco Antonio Chavez Medina served honorably for four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, but was convicted of animal cruelty in 1998. He served 15 months of his prison sentence and was released early for good behavior. In 2002, an immigration judge categorized his offense as an “aggravated felony” and he was deported to Mexico.

Hector Barajas  served with the 82nd Airborne during Operation Desert Storm and was honorably discharged. But, as a civilian, he struggled with substance abuse and "a conviction for being in a car when a firearm was discharged." That got him two years in prison and deportation to Mexico.

The Times quotes someone as saying, "It’s the first time a governor has recognized and taken action to help deported veterans." If so, it would be a sad thing indeed. Historically, presidents have granted clemency with some frequency to persons to prevent / counteract deportation. And there is certainly no reason to expect that veterans have been / should be systematically excluded from those exercises. See full story here.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

California: 72 Pardons, 7 Commutations

The  L.A. Times reports Governor Brown has continued "his tradition of considering the requests of felons for a second chance both at Christmas and Easter" by granting 72 pardons and 7 commutations of sentence. The Times notes "the bulk" of the grants were for "nonviolent drug crimes." One commutation of sentence will result in immediate release. The other six involve a "chance" to be released from prison by the State Board of Parole Hearings. See story here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

California: 112 Pardons, 1 Commutation

Governor Brown has granted 112 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence. According to the Los Angeles Times, Brown has now granted 854 pardons and two commutation of sentence. That number "far exceeds recent predecessors such as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who granted 15 pardons; Gov. Gray Davis, who granted zero pardons; and Gov. Pete Wilson, who granted 13." See story here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Where are Obama's Clemency Recipients From?

Top Ten States (and population rank) *

  1. Grants: 126 - Florida (4th)
  2. Grants: 82 - Texas (2nd)
  3. Grants: 52 - Illinois (5th)
  4. Grants: 40 - Virginia (12th)
  5. Grants: 40 - North Carolina (10th)
  6. Grants: 38 - Georgia (8th)
  7. Grants: 29 - Missouri (18th)
  8. Grants: 28 - Tennessee (17th)
  9. Grants: 26 - California (1st)
10. Grants: 25 - South Carolina (24th)

* sixty-five percent of Obama's 743 grants.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

California: Saunders on Van Houten

Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed a parole board recommendation to parole 66-year old Leslie Van Houten for her role in double murders committed by the so-called Manson Family in 1969. The board notes she is remorseful, has accepted responsibility, and poses no danger to society. Gov. Brown, however says,
“As our Supreme Court has acknowledged, in rare circumstances a crime is so atrocious that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself.” 
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders thinks the Governor is on to something. She reminds us that Manson is "best remembered" for leading his "followers to kill five people in "brutal, premeditated acts of terrorism designed to spark Manson’s envisioned race war between black and white."

Van Houten was sentenced her to death in 1971, but her sentence was commuted to life by the California Supreme Court. After a retrial, she received a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. Looking over Van Houten's prison record and experience, Saunders agrees that she "fits the very model of redemption" but adds:
I believe that if Van Houten is truly remorseful, then she should accept that her punishment is to spend her days repenting in a correctional facility. I don’t make light of prison and the loss of autonomy. But life behind bars is a fitting sentence for torture/murder. Manson’s design was to terrorize civil society. Van Houten tried to burn down that house. She doesn’t get to come back into the house. 
See full column here.

Friday, March 25, 2016

California: 59 Pardons

It is reported that Governor Brown has granted 59 pardons. All of the recipients have "completed their sentences and the majority were originally convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes." Each received a "Certificate of Rehabilitation" which is "an order from a superior court declaring that a person convicted of a crime is now rehabilitated." See story here.

Friday, March 18, 2016

California: More on the Cooper Case

The Daily Bulletin reports District Attorney Mike Ramos has "posted a harsh response on social media" to American Bar Association president, Paulette Brown, who supports clemency for Kevin Cooper. Says, Ramos:
“I am disgusted by the comments made by the president of the American Bar Association and the fact that they show no concern or respect for the victims and their families in this case ... Kevin Cooper committed the most horrendous crimes imaginable against the victims while they were in the sanctity of their home ... He killed a family and two little children, and left their family members to suffer a lifetime of pain,” 
Cooper was found guilty of the 1983 murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter 10-year old daughter and an 11-year-old that was visiting. An 8-year old survived the attack. Brown, however, says there is evidence of bias and misconduct and a miscarriage of justice. Ramos calls it a "last-ditch effort at saving the life of a multiple murderer and apparently they didn’t bother to do their homework.” Furthermore, Ramos has "appealed multiple times to each the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and each time our case gets stronger.”

See full story here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ABA Calls for Reprieve

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the "arrest, prosecution and conviction" of one Kevin Cooper were "marred by evidence of racial bias, police misconduct, evidence tampering, suppression of exculpatory evidence, lack of quality defense counsel and a hamstrung court system.” Cooper, is an African-American. So, ABA President Paulette Brown is calling on Governor Brown to grant a reprieve of Cooper's execution, although the ABA "takes no position on the death penalty per se." Cooper was sentenced for murdering a California couple and two children. See story here.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Chronicle on Downey Pardon: Embarrassing

The San Francisco Chronicle notes Gov. Brown "has been more generous with pardons than former governors," which is true. And the Chronicle can "generally applaud him" for that. But, says the Chronicle, his recent pardon of Robert Downey, Jr. "raised a number of eyebrows around the state, and for understandable reasons." Why?

Because Downey's offense was so recent? Nonsense. It was a 1996 conviction. Because Downey has not lead a respectful, law-abiding life after serving his sentence? Nope. Because Downey has not exhibited signs of remorse and rehabilitation? Nope. Because Downey did not get the sentence he deserved? Nope.

No, the Chronicle (speaking for others?) says Downey is a "star" (!!!) and:
... was the world’s best-paid actor this year ($80 million according to Forbes magazine). So it’s easy to imagine that Downey’s recent pre-pardon contributions to Gov. Brown — $5,000 to Brown’s re-election campaign and a $50,401 donation to the Oakland School for the Arts, a charter school that Brown helped found in 2000 — are a drop in his bucket from his perspective. They still look bad ... it was unseemly for Downey to offer generous political contributions to the governor, and it was unseemly for the governor to accept them. If pardons are granted solely on the basis of exemplary behavior, then the behavior of everyone involved needs to look exemplary.
We are not sure how the percentage of Downey's total wealth that is given to charity is related to the price of tea in China but, in our view, the only thing that looks bad is the San Francisco Chronicle. We think it is a good thing - indeed, a fantastic thing - that a former convict earns a degree of wealth after serving his sentence and then has the wherewithal to give back a little. Further, demagoguery re "rich" people is not very exemplary - excepting some legal criticism of the pardon, which the Chronicle does not offer. Should political contributions (aka First Amendment activity) disqualify someone from clemency? No, not at all. The burden should be a little heavier for eyebrow raising critics because - as we all know - there will always be critics.

If the Chronicle - or the mysterious eyebrow raisers it represents - thinks Downey is undeserving, it should explicitly say so, and meticulously make its case. Otherwise, the interest in Downey's wealth, charitable contributions and First Amendment activity is nothing more than prurient and embarrassing. See the Chronicle's clumsy analysis here.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

California: 91 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gov. Jerry Brown has pardoned 91 "for past crimes, most of them minor drug offenses that no longer are felonies under California law, as well as robbery and burglary." The Times says pardoning  "has become an annual Christmas Eve tradition." Last year, Brown granted 105 pardons during the holiday (but "withdrew" one).

The Times also reports that, to date, Brown has granted clemency to 1,087 people ("including 683 since returning to office in 2011"). His Democrat predecessor Gray Davis granted zero pardons and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger granted 15. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, pardoned 574 individuals and Earl Warren pardoned 522 people across 10 years in office. See story here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

California: Nunez Commutation "Grossly Unjust, but Not Illegal"

The following is an abbreviated version of a full judicial opinion which can be found here

Esteban Nunez--the son of Fabian Nunez, the former Speaker of the California State Assembly--aided in the killing of Luis Santos during a knife attack in October of 2008. The attack was initiated by Esteban Nunez and his acquaintances, none of whom were armed. One of Esteban Nunez’s cohorts stabbed Santos in the chest severing an artery in his 2 heart after which Santos almost immediately bled to death. During the fight Esteban Nunez stabbed another young man in the abdomen and in the back and stabbed a third young man in the shoulder. Esteban Nunez was subsequently charged with the murder of Luis Santos and assault with a deadly weapon as to each of the two men he personally stabbed.

Esteban Nunez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Luis Santos and pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon arising from his having personally stabbed the other two young men. In June 2010, he was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison. The probation department had recommended a sentence of 11 years.

On January 2, 2011, his last day in office as Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the prison sentence of Esteban Nunez from 16 years to seven years. The commutation came as a complete surprise to the crime victims and the prosecuting district attorney.

Monday, May 25, 2015

California: A Great Pardon Story

The Orange County Register has a wonderful story on a recent pardon case in California. In 1994, Henry E. Irvin was looking at a ten year prison sentence for threatening a woman. He always disputed how far the incident went, but felt fortunate to be able to plead out a sentence of a mere six months. After a violation of parole, Irwin spend over two years in prison before being released in 1997.

But what really were his odds if making something out of himself? How long would it really be before he was right back in prison? Irvin was convicted of robbery at age 13 and spent a considerable amount of time in "juvenile hall." A former employer there said of him, "one of the worst kids we had in custody ... he had little respect for authority and got into fights all the time,”

A counselor with the California Youth Authority enrolled Irvin in Fullerton College. He then Kansas Wesleyan University where he graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. And then:
Irvin didn’t have money for a lawyer to help him submit the pardon application, so he spent weeks in the Orange County Public Law Library figuring the paperwork out on his own. He also constantly called the state legal affairs office, never letting the staff forget him. Over the years he also enlisted the help of those he met along the way including Blair, even Tom Beamish, the then-mayor of La Habra ... Irvin applied during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s governorship and sent him a letter a day for a year, spending $200 on stamps. He never received a reply. After Brown’s appointment in 2011, Irvin has become one of the hundreds of Californians to receive the coveted certificate in the mail. Despite his efforts, another eight years went by without his hearing a word from the state ... until that April 4 phone call. Although the pardon does not expunge his record, many of Irvin’s rights, including the right to own firearms and serve on a jury, have been restored. The most important to him might be that he can possibly realize his dream job of being hired by the state as a parole or probation officer. 
See full story here.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

California: 83 Pardons

It is reported that Gov. Jerry Brown has granted pardons to 83 people, each having been out of prison for at least 10 years. The recipients are also described as persons who have led "productive" lives and have "no new criminal convictions." It is also reported that most of the recipients "had been convicted of drug and robbery cases. See story here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

California: Pardon Withdrawn!

Jerry Brown noted Glen Williams Carnes - one of 105 people who received an executive pardon from the governor - had "lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen." Carnes had "paid his debt to society and earned a full and unconditional pardon."

That was before the Los Angeles Times uncovered the fact that Carnes had been "recently disciplined by financial regulators." More specifically:
... federal records show Carnes was disciplined by investment regulators in May 2013. He signed a consent settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in which he agreed to be barred from association with financial investment advisors. The document alleged Carnes hid an outside business deal and provided investigators with "false and misleading statements that minimized and mischaracterized his involvement." Carnes did not admit guilt.
Brown's office says it was "unaware" of the "disciplinary action," because it was "not disclosed by the applicant." In addition, Carnes had a "certificate of rehabilitation" from an Orange County court. Nonetheless, the pardon has been "withdrawn." See more on this story and other interesting cases here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

California: 105 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports Governor Jerry Brown has maintained his "custom" by releasing a list of 105 people ("mostly minor drug offenders") who have received pardons from him. It is also reported that Brown has pardoned 510 people since 2011. In comparison, previous governors Schwarzenegger, Davis and Wilson combined for a mere 29 pardons, over 20 years. The Times also notes that "those granted pardons have all completed their sentences and been released from custody for more than a decade without further criminal activity." See full story here.


Monday, June 23, 2014

California: The Pardon Guy

The L.A. Times has an interesting piece on one 77 year old John Garbin, a.k.a. "the pardon guy" (or the "certificate of rehabilitation guy." Garbin says, "We do not live in a forgiving society." The Times says Garbin, a senior paralegal in the public defender's office, has spent "the last two decades answering about 1,000 calls a year from felons, most of them drug offenders."
He digs into each one's history to confirm they have gone straight for at least seven years (about 5% to 10% fall short). Then he works to persuade a judge to grant them a wider path back into society. His success rate is an astounding 95%. Such a certificate doesn't erase the past, but it does restore some of the civil rights lost upon conviction. It also serves as an automatic application for a governor's pardon, the ultimate badge of rehabilitation. With Gov. Jerry Brown granting clemency more often than his recent predecessors, more people are flocking to Garbin for a shot at their governor's pardon. For them, Garbin often seems their only hope. 
The piece also reports that over the 20 years Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson served "only 29 pardons had been granted." Jerry Brown has granted 375 since taking office in 2011. Garbin takes credit for 41 of them. See story here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

California: 63 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gov. Jerry Brown's office has granted 63 pardons (see details here) "tying the clemency decisions to Good Friday." According to the Times, Brown has granted 314 "at Christmas and Easter" since he took office in 2011. A news release also observed:
“A gubernatorial pardon may be granted to people who have demonstrated exemplary behavior and have lived productive and law-abiding lives following their conviction, ... Pardons are not granted unless they are earned.”
It is also reported that Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson combined granted 29 pardons over 20 years. See story here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

California: 127 Pardons

It is reported that California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has announced 127 pardons. The individuals granted pardons have "all completed their sentences and have been released from custody for more than a decade without further criminal activity."  See story here.

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