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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

California: Kruzan to be Released

Sara Kruzan killed her pimp after being forced into prostitution at the age of 13. There followed a life sentence without the possibility of parole. But, in 2011, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole on his last day in office. Now, according to the Daily Mail, the State's parole board has decided to reduced her sentence further "effectively freeing her." Apparently, the board's decision will stand as current California Gov. Jerry Brown "has decided to allow freedom" by deciding "not to take action." See article here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

California: 65 Pardons

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gov. Jerry Brown "continued a pattern of pardons tied to Christian religious days" by granting 65 pardons. According to the Times:
Brown granted 128 pardons in 2012, up from 21 his first year in office, and surpassing the 16 pardons and 10 commuted sentences that his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed in seven years in office. Seventy-nine of Brown's 2012 pardons were announced on Christmas Eve. Saturday's press release announcing the latest batch of pardons tied them to "the eve of Easter." As a young man, Brown spent four years in a Jesuit seminary studying to be a Catholic priest. 
See full story here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

California: Brown Generous With Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports Governor Jerry Brown pardoned 128 people last year. A full listing of those persons was "released" on Friday. More specifically, "as required by law, he submitted to the Legislature a report on all pardons and commuted sentences for the year, which included 49 previously unannounced cases." One wonders why such decisions would ever be "unannounced."

As one would expect, most of the pardons were for people "who were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and had long since served their time." They are all now judged to be "upstanding citizens."

The Times also reports that Gov. Brown "has been far more liberal with his pardon power than were his predecessors." With a total of 149 acts of clemency in just two years, he has trumped former Gov. Schwarzenegger who pardoned just 16 people in seven years. Gray Davis granted no pardons in his five years as governor. See full story here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

California: 79 Pardons!

The Los Angeles Times reports Gov. Jerry Brown has restored the civil rights to 79 felons, many of them "convicted of minor drug crimes decades ago."  The Governor's office also issued a statement saying the pardons were "earned." Indeed:
"Obtaining a pardon is a distinct achievement based upon proof of a productive and law-abiding life following conviction." 
The governor's office "would not immediately provide access to the pardon applications, recommendations of prosecutors and victims' statements." But under a 2011 state law, he is required to "provide a fuller report to the Legislature when it begins regular session."

The Times also reports that Brown "is among California's most pardonable modern governors." From 1975 to 1983, he granted 403 pardons. In 2011, he granted 21 pardons. In the previous seven years, Arnold Schwarzenegger  granted 16 pardons and 10 commutations of sentence. Gray Davis granted none and Ronald Reagan granted 575 pardons. See story here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Schwarzenegger "Repugnant" but Not Criiminal

CBS News reports  Judge Lloyd Connelly has ruled former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "didn’t break any laws when he cut the manslaughter sentence for the son of a political ally just hours before leaving office last year." Connelly is said to have called Schwarzenegger’s decision distasteful and “repugnant to the bulk of the citizenry of this state,” but legal. More specifically, Connelly ruled Marsy’s law, did not apply to a situation where the governor was granting pardons and commutations. Instead, the governor has “unfettered discretion to grant clemency without judicial review.” See story here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

California: Nunez Commutation is Back!

CBS News reports that a Sacramento County judge "will hear arguments Friday over whether former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger violated California law when he cut the manslaughter sentence for the son of a political ally just hours before he left office last year." The lawsuit claims that Schwarzenegger "violated voter-approved Marsy's Law because he did not notify the victims' families or the district attorney who prosecuted the case that he was cutting the sentence of Esteban Nunez from 16 years to seven."  The State's attorney general office has sought to have the case thrown out "several times," because it holds that the law does not apply to a governor's clemency power. In October, the currrent governor, Jerry Brown, signed a bill that requires the governor to give at least 10 days' notice to the district attorney in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred before acting on an application for clemency. See full story here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

DeLorean Codefendant Seeks Pardon

Stephen Lee Arrington was born in 1948 in Southern California into a broken family. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy and served four tours in Vietnam. He rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer in the Specialty Warfare Command as a bomb disposal diver, where he worked with the CIA, the Secret Service and NASA. Arrington also earned the Naval Commendation Medal for lifesaving. But, while he was stationed in Hawaii in the late 1970’s, he took up surfing and got caught up in the marijuana culture that accompanied a new group of friends. By 1979, Arrington was caught selling marijuana to another sailor and his military career came to an abrupt end, albeit with an Honorable Discharge.

Two years later, Arrington was lured away from his studies at San Diego State University by one Morgan Hetrick, who offered a job as a pilot and right-hand man. But Hetrick was actually a cocaine transporter for the Medellin Drug Cartel. Soon, Arrington found himself being ordered to co-pilot a plane to Colombia. When he first refused, four men with guns convinced him to go along for the ride. Later, Arrington was ordered to drive a cocaine-loaded car from Florida to California. Desperate to escape from his circumstance, Arrington abandoned the car at Van Nuys Airport and tried to walk away. But heavily armed undercover DEA agents took him back to the car and Arrington was arrested. He was thereafter known as a co-defendant of John DeLorean in a cocaine conspiracy trial. DeLorean was acquitted on all charges. But Arrington plead guilty and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Pardon? Exhibit 1, Brian Banks

Rick Reilly (ESPN) has written a fascinating, albeit sobering, piece on the story of Brian Banks. And what a story it is!

Banks was a 16-year-old star middle linebacker in 2002, and had already been offered a full-ride football scholarship at U.S.C. But he and a girl went to "make out" in a stairwell at school and, afterward, she claimed Banks had raped her. Banks had no criminal record. There were no semen traces and no witnesses. On the advice of an attorney, Banks reluctantly copped a plea and got six years.

Banks served 62 months, but his punishment was far from "over." He had to wear a GPS ankle bracelet (for five more years) and register himself as a convicted sex felon. As a result, he could not go near schools, parks or zoos. And, of course, he couldn't get a job!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

California: Commutation of Sentence for Baby Shaker

The L.A. Times reports Gov. Jerry Brown has commuted the 15 years-to-life prison sentence of Shirley Ree Smith, a 51-year-old woman convicted of shaking her infant grandson to death 15 years ago. Brown said he had "significant doubts" about her guilt in the death of a 7 week old child. The Times also reports: "the commutation of Smith's sentence to time served was Brown's first grant of clemency in this term as governor and that he granted only one other during his first two terms as governor. Gov. Ronald Reagan, by contrast, issued 17 commutations while in office." See story here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

California: Brown Generous with Clemency

The Sacramento Bee reports that Governor Brown "is more inclined than previous governors to forgive." Indeed Brown granted more pardons this year than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger granted in seven (16 pardons and 10 commutations of sentence). Gray Davis, granted none. Brown's whopping total? A mere 21!

A Press Secretary says Brown's "philosophy on pardons" is similar to that of Ronald Reagan, "Some people make mistakes but work for years to create a better life for themselves and others, and such efforts deserve recognition."

Read more about the individuals Brown has pardoned here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Times to Gov. Brown: Commute!

Noting that the pardon power is "an essential means of justice, allowing a governor to right what the law got wrong," the New York Times is calling on California Governor Jerry Brown of California to commute the sentence of Shirley Ree Smith. Smith was convicted of killing (by shaking) her grandson and has served 10 years of a 15-years-to-life sentence.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the conviction in 2006 finding "no demonstrable support” for it (as there no physical or "other" evidence of the severe bleeding or swelling. The court concluded “there has very likely been a miscarriage of justice in this case.”

Five years later, however, the Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit. The effect of the decision is that Smith must complete her sentence ... unless it is commuted. Says the Times:
Ms. Smith has already served 10 years for a crime she likely did not commit. She should not now be made a victim of the Supreme Court’s pique. 
See full Times article here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

California: Mercy?

Gov. Jerry Brown is reported to be "giving strong consideration" to a clemency petition from Shirley Ree Smith, a 51-year-old grandmother sentenced to 15 years to life in 1997 for causing the death of a child. The conviction (for shaking her infant grandson to death) was overturned by an appeals court but reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court. So, the clemency petition "relies heavily" on a dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and signed by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. See more on this fascinating case here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

California: Nunez Legislation Signed

The Los Angeles Times reports Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation requiring that prosecutors be notified before acting on requests to commute prison sentences. The law was designed, of course, in response to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's last minute decision to reduce the 16 year sentence of Esteban Nunez, the son of "political ally" Fabian Nunez, to a mere seven years. A spokeswoman for the Governor says "Victims and their families should not be blindsided when a request is made for a sentence to be commuted," and the bill will ensure "ample notification and a more transparent process." See story here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

California: Medical Parole

Senate Bill 1399, Medical Parole, attempts to reduce spending (and the States's $10 billion budget deficit) by allowing parole of "severely medically incapacitated inmates posing no threat to public safety." More specifically, the bill would eliminate expensive medical care and around-the-clock armed guards for inmates who are permanently medically incapacitated. But it would not apply to those who have been sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Such costs are estimated to about $2 billion per year on such costs.

Alfey Ramdhan feels such legislation is wise and pertinent to the case of her own mother, Patricia Wright. Wright was convicted of two felonies when her 7-year old daughter was caught stealing two 99-cent toys back in 1989. Ramdhan says Governor Brown "was willing" to sign her mother's clemency application in March of 2011, until he "discovered" her "two felonies, for these two toys." Now, Wright is said to have "fourth stage terminal cancer" and is "severely incapacitated."

Patricia's blog is Her petition: please grant compassionate medical release for Patricia Wright at See full story here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

California: Assembly Bill 645

Sign on San Diego reports that Assemblyman Marty Block (D) "has made a small but significant change to his legislation" to prevent "political favoritism" in the State's clemency practices. In general, Assembly Bill 645 attempts to provide "prosecutors, victims and their families notice when a prisoner has filed a clemency appeal with a governor." Currently, pardons require a 10-day notice, but Block initially recommended a 30 day notice for commutations of sentence. Block says he thinks the bill's chance of passage "looks very good.” See story here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

California: No Hope. No Change.

A clemency petition has been sent to President Obama on behalf of Dr. Mollie Fry, who is described as "a physician, breast cancer survivor and medical marijuana patient" as well as the mother of five. She received a 5-year prison sentence, however (as did her husband, Dale Scafer, a "patient and an attorney"). The petition calls on Obama to grant a commutation of sentence, something he has never done in his 822 days as President of the United States (a period of time second only to George W. Bush).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

California: A Non-Revealing Revelation Re Nunez

When former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the 16-year sentence of Esteban Nunez (the son of former state Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez) to seven years, on his last day in office, the decision was instantly regarded (by almost everyone on the planet) as a matter of personal favor contra justice.

It is now reported that the former governor has told Newsweek that the decision was a matter of "helping a friend." Duh! However, Schwarzenegger's "official reasoning" - at the time - was that the 6-year sentence was "excessive," because Nunez "had no prior criminal record" and did not inflict a "fatal wound" while stabbing three difference individuals. See story here

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

California: Brown Not on Same Page

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Gov. Jerry Brown is "suspicious" of legislation that is being considered which will change the California governor's clemency power. The legislation is, of course, in response to a late term commutation of sentence by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brown says, "continuity and respect for our institutions are also important" and that he is "hesitant to add any more restrictions" to the Governor's powers. See story here.

California: Clemency or Deportation

Shah Peerally, President of Shah Peerally Law Group PC, has written an open letter to President Obama regarding the fate of Tri-Valley University students "who risk being deported if they are found in violation of their immigration status" and "could be decided in the next few days." Among other things, it says:
While the world is turning anti-American, I still believe that the United States of America was founded on being a welcoming land for immigrants and remains "The Land of the free and the home of the brave." I personally defend the United States whenever I hear anti-American voices. Please give me a chance to continue having the ability to defend our great country. 
It is therefore, important for your administration to handle this situation delicately and make sure India and its people continue to look upon us favorably.
See complete letter and additional details here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Schwarzenegger Sued!

It is reported that the family of Luis Santos has announced that it will "file suit" against former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger because of the commutation of sentence that he granted to the killer of their son. The family argues that the former governor "deprived them of their constitutional rights" under Marsy's Law, "a 2008 state victims' rights law that aims to provide crime victims with due process." See story here.

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