Showing posts with label Cleveland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cleveland. Show all posts

Monday, August 8, 2016

Obama Makes History on Two Fronts

Last Wednesday, President Obama granted 214 commutations of sentence, the most any president has ever granted in a single day. In doing so, he broke Franklin Roosevelt's previous record, of 151.

We searched through our data again and discovered President Obama also set another record: for the largest number of individual acts of clemency (pardons, commutations, remissions of fines and forfeiture, respites, etc.) granted in a single day:

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Prof Mark Osler kindly notes that these data would also exclude (in addition to amnesties, or group pardons) grants by Gerald Ford's Presidential Clemency Board - data which are not compiled in DOJ / OPA clemency warrant records. Interestingly, when recent presidents set these marks, it was hardly noticed and no one had any idea of context, whether or not any record had been set. Having gathered comprehensive original data on clemency, the Editor of this Blog is uniquely qualified to provide that context.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama and Other Multiple Term Presidents

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Obama is No Nixon (or Eisenhower)

White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston - and others in the White House - are want to compare President Obama's record on clemency favorably (after almost two full years of zero pardons and commutations of sentence) to the least merciful presidents. Even then, the focus of such "analyses" is but one dimension of clemency (commutations, not pardons). We imagine there are other, less awkward and more enlightening reference points: such as presidents who have, like Obama, have served more than one term:

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Fortunately, Mr. Eggleston, who recently presided over an organizational framework which completely excluded the U.S. Pardon Attorney from communication with the Office of White House Counsel - even when the Deputy Attorney General deep-sixed recommendations for clemency - has told Politico that, in the last months of the administration, the “infrastructure is now very much in place” to file and process clemency petitions and we are all "going to start seeing a lot more very quickly" and "on a more regular basis."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Case of Joe Martin (and the Headless Corpse)

The following post is from a paper presented by P.S. Ruckman, Jr., at the “Theodore Roosevelt: Life, Times and Legacy” conference. Louisiana State University (Shreveport). October 17-20, 2012. 

One day, Ernest Adams picked up a club and attacked Joe Martin, a citizen of Yell County, Arkansas. Martin managed to escape and retreated to his own home. Adams went to a friend’s house, borrowed a Winchester rifle and made his way to the Martin residence. As he approached the front door, Adams saw Martin sitting in a chair with his 4-year-old daughter, Nora, in his lap. Adams then threatened to kill Martin, but Martin pled with Adams not to have the poor taste to commit murder right in front of his family. So, Adams forced Martin down a road and along a path.

Later, Martin's family heard a rifle shot coming from the woods. But, to their general astonishment, Joe Martin emerged alive. And Ernest Adams was nowhere to be seen. Martin later claimed that, as he and Adams were walking along, they both thought that they heard the sound of another man’s footsteps in the woods. In that slight moment of concern and hesitation, Martin grabbed Adams’ gun and a struggle ensued. Martin said he then shot Adams in self-defense.

Later, the body of a man was found floating in the Red River. It was wrapped in a bed quilt that was later linked to Martin. Unfortunately, the head of the corpse had been removed. As a result, the identification process was said to have been “very incomplete.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obama: The No Commutation of Sentence President

Only George W. Bush waited longer than President Obama to grant the first act of clemency in his term. To date, Obama has granted a paltry 17 presidential pardons (largely restoring the civil rights of persons who committed minor offenses decades ago) and zero commutations of sentence.

President              Days before First Commutation of Sentence
-----------              ---------------------------------------------------------
Obama                1,004 ... and counting
Clinton                  672
Reagan                  317
Eisenhower           282
Nixon                    282
H.W. Bush             206
Carter                    82
Ford (s)                  61
Truman (s)             54
Johnson (s)            30
Kennedy                 19

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reporting on Pardons ... Tradition !

In November of 1911, the Washington Post reported President William Howard Taft was on a "record-setting" pace for pardons and would probably break the overall mark set by Theodore Roosevelt. But, in fact, Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland had both granted more pardons than Roosevelt.

And, when all was said and done, Taft didn't top Roosevelt (much less Grant or Cleveland). Nor did Taft top the marks set by presidents William McKinley or Rutherford B. Hayes. No, the "record-setting" pace finished sixth for that point in history! And nine out of the next ten presidents out-pardoned Taft as well!

In the same article, the Post informed its readers that Taft’s pardons were based “only on merits” and that “influence and politics” were “ignored.” Ah, the good old days.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama: Just Too Busy for Mercy

James Buchanan granted 25 presidential pardons from the time South Carolina seceded from the Union and the Confederate States of America were formed (February 1861).

Abraham Lincoln took the time to grant 5 pardons in July of 1861, following the disastrous showing of Federal troops in the Battle of the First Bull Run. In early 1862, he granted 7 pardons while his 11-year old son, Willie, suffered (and eventually died) from typhoid fever. Lincoln also granted 3 pardons during the week of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

600 Days! Obama in Very Rare Air

Today marks the 600th day of the Obama administration. At this point, despite a record number of clemency applications, Obama has yet to grant a single pardon or commutation of sentence. Only three other presidents have waited longer - see chart here. First, there is George Washington, who waited a whopping 1,811 days to grant the first presidential pardon under the new Constitution. Even with a flurry of pardons just as he was leaving office, Washington granted relatively few pardons. It also appears that mercy was not exactly his forte when he commanded the army during the Revolution. * EDITOR: See update on this information here.

In second, is George W. Bush, who waited 699 days before granting the first pardon of his administration. Bush also used the pardon power sparingly, but certainly more so than Washington. The commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence was probably his most controversial act, but the nullification of the pardon of Isaac Toussie raised more than a few eyebrows. Bush also intentionally granted a pardon to one dead person, Charlie Winters, and used the power to intervene in the high profile case of Igancio Ramos and Jose Compean. Generally, it was obvious that clemency was not a high priority for Bush and, as a result, there was considerable (actually downright wild) speculation that the final days of his administration might feature a wild, mind-numbing flurry of controversial pardons.

Bill Clinton, who waited 672 days before granting a pardon, was, of course, partly responsible for public concern about pardons near the end of the Bush administration. Clinton appeared to be headed toward a level of merciless administration the likes of which had not been seen since John Adams. The effect, in part, was to attract considerable attention / criticism to the few pardons that he did grant. But, as the administration ended, Clinton showed his disdain for the Department of Justice (that charged him with perjury) and its rules and regulations by granting pardons to relatives, friends, donors, friends of donors, members of his administration, party leaders, etc. Many had not even applied for clemency. Some argue Clinton's caper did as much damage to the reputation of the pardon power as the media's reaction to Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon.

These (above) are the only presidents who have waited longer than Barack Obama to grant a pardon. Over the last 39 years, 1 out of every 2 presidential pardons has been granted in the month of December. If, however, Obama waits until December to discover the pardon power, he will actually pass Clinton. This would make him 1) the slowest Democratic president in history to pardon and 2) second only to George W. Bush among modern presidents. If history matters, one might expect the Obama administration to end very much in the manner of Bush or Clinton. That is to say, it will end in wild speculation and disappointment or in wild controversy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chart: Most Pardons Granted in a Singled Day




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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quote of the Day: Grover Cleveland on Pardons

I have been listening to many applications, and I shall pardon when I see fit. I shall be a governor until the end of my term, not-withstanding all the would-be governors in the State. I am going to do just as I have a mind to about this pardoning business, whether the newspapers like it or not. [One] of these days I'll grant a pardon just because, in my judgment, it ought to be granted and I shall say that is my reason, and shall not give any other. Justice, mercy, and humanity are the things alone to be considered in the application for a pardon. And if I find a poor fellow is unjustly imprisoned, or there is any good reason why he should be pardoned, I'll pardon, and will not regard the record at all. - Grover Cleveland

Monday, December 1, 2008

Context: Amnesties (or Blanket Pardons)

Washington - July 10 1795, Whiskey Insurrectionists
Adams - May 21 1800, Pennsylvania Insurrectionists (Fries Rebellion)
Jefferson - October 15 1807, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - February 7 1812, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - October 8 1812, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - June 14 1814, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - February 6 1815, Pirates participating in War of 1812
Jackson - June 12 1830, Military deserters discharged, those confined released
Buchanan - April 6, 1858, Utah uprising
Lincoln - February 14 1862, Political prisoners paroled
Lincoln - March 10 1863, Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay
Lincoln - December 8 1863, “Rebellion” participants (with exceptions) subject to oath
Lincoln - February 26 1864, Military deserters sentences mitigated, restored to duty
Lincoln - March 26 1864, Clarification of December 8, 1863, amnesty
Lincoln - March 11 1865, Military deserters (if returned to post in 60 days)
Johnson - May 29 1865, Certain rebels of Confederate States
Johnson - May 4 1866, Clarification of previous amnesty
Johnson - July 3 1866, Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay
Johnson - September 7 1867, Confederates (excepting certain officers) subject to oath
Johnson - July 4 1868, Confederates (except those indicted for treason or felony)
Johnson - December 25 1868, Confederates (universal and unconditional)
Harrison - January 4 1893, Mormons practicing polygamy
Cleveland - September 25 1894, Mormons practicing polygamy
T. Roosevelt - July 4 1902, Philippine insurrectionists, subject to oath
Wilson - June 14 1917 5,000, Persons under suspended sentences
Wilson - August 21 1917, Clarification, reaffirmation of June 14 amnesty
Coolidge - December 15 1923, Espionage Act
Coolidge - March 5 1924, Over 100 military deserters. Restoration of citizenship.
F. Roosevelt - December 23 1933, Over 1,500 who violated Espionage or Draft laws.
Truman - December 24 1945, Thousands of ex-convicts serving at least 1 year in war
Truman - December 23 1947, 1,523 draft evaders (recommended by Amnesty Board)
Truman - December 24 1952, Convicts serving armed forces at least 1 year since 1950
Truman - December 24 1952, Military deserters convicted between 1945 and 1950
Ford - September 16 1974, Vietnam draft evaders. Conditioned on public service
Carter - January 21 1977, Vietnam draft evaders. Unconditional pardon

* For additional updating / commentary on this list, contact the Editor of this blog.

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