Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts

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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Colorado: Another Governor AWOL

Gov. Hickenlooper
The Denver Post notes that, "more than two years after Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the re-creation of the [State's] Executive Clemency Advisory Board [the] board has yet to review a single application." Indeed, it has never even met.

So, no pardons have been granted by Governor Hickenlooper, who just got around to filling the Board's seven seats this past week!

The Post reports this inactivity has had an impact. "About 150" applications have been filed since the Board was formed in 2012. The president of Colorado's Criminal Defense Bar notes there is no legal "requirement" that the governor show up and participate in the State's system of separation of powers and checks and balances, but ignoring pardons can discourage people:
"A pardon is a legal forgiveness. It doesn't forget the act, but it forgives it ... We want that system to be in place because we want people to be motivated and incentives to do phenomenal things ..."
The Post also notes 13 people were given pardons by Gov. Bill Owens (over 8 years) while Gov. Bill Ritter granted 42. See full article here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Colorado: Clemency Disaster

Gov. John Hickenlooper
We refer our readers to this intriguing post by Alan Prendergast, at Denver Westwood Blogs. It focuses on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's shameful record on clemency.

Prendergast argues the clemency process has been "increasingly politicized and "used less and less" since Governor John Love "granted more than 200 pardons in his ten years on the job." Prendergast says, afterward, Governors Bill Owens and Bill Ritter then "squeezed out only a handful of pardons and commutations." Nonetheless, Owens and Ritter "seem like reckless bleeding hearts"in comparison to Governor Hickenlooper, "who has not granted any requests for pardons or sentence reductions since taking office in 2011."

Prendergast notes Hickenlooper actually issued an executive order in 2012, "reauthorizing" the State's Executive Clemency Advisory Board. Yet, he hasn't "got around" to appointing anyone to actually serve on the board! The Board is also supposed to meet every six months, but a spokesman says it has not met since "sometime in 2012."

The same spokesman says the Governor is "currently recruiting new board members" though and "holding" pardon and commutation requests meanwhile. Prendergast explains that Hickenlooper's neglect of duty may be the result of criticism he received when he granted a reprieve from execution he granted last year. Constitutional duty and mercy can, apparently wait, until the Governor is over it.

Readers may be interested in this post by Prenderghast as well.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Colorado: Respite!

Gov. John Hickenlooper
One the more brutal blunders of media coverage of Scooter Libby's case was the notion that, if President Bush did not pardon Libby, Libby would be off to federal prison. So far as we are aware, only two analysts were informed enough to beg to differ. One, William Otis, recommended that Bush grant a commutation of Libby's prison sentence - which is what eventually happened.

The other, the Editor of this blog, noted that Bush could simply grant a respite, or a series of respites, delaying the prison sentence until Libby was able to appeal the verdict. Indeed, the Editor remains convinced that, had the President been truly convinced that Libby was innocent, a respite would have been the more intelligent decision. Regardless, for the most part, the media were clueless about the variety of forms of clemency available to the president.

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper has granted a "reprieve" to the so-called "Chuck E Cheese killer" Nathan Dunlap. It is reported that the delay of Dunlap's execution "will stay in force until Hickenlooper or another governor lifts it," but Hickenlooper has said "it was highly unlikely that he would revisit his decision."

In 1993, Dunlap (who was 19 years old at the time) walked into a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora, shot five people in the head and took $1,500 from a safe. He had recently been fired from the restaurant.  See full story here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Colorado: Free After 23 Years

Charles Limbrick, described as "one of the youngest killers in Colorado Springs’ history," has been released from prison after nearly 23 years behind bars.  — ending a grueling effort to free him by lawyers, politicians and the man who oversaw his prosecution. Limbrick was sentenced to life in prison in with the possibility of parole at age 15. He is reported to have "kept a good record in prison and became active in prison ministry, sang in the prison choir and recorded Christian music CDs." See story here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Colorado: 29 Acts of Clemency

Today, Governor Ritter granted 19 pardons and 10 commutations of sentence. According to this report, seven of the commutations were given to "people convicted of murder or homicide" and "four of those were juveniles at the time of their crimes." In a boiler plate statement, Ritter said, "after carefully reviewing" each of the cases, he believed that it served "the interests of justice, without compromising public safety" to grant the pardons and commutations." He also refused all requests for interviews on the topic. Ritter established the Nation's first "Juvenile Clemency Board in 2007" in order to "review commutation requests from offenders who, as juveniles, were tried, convicted and sentenced as adults." On the other hand, Friday's commutations were actually the very first that have been issued as a result.

Colorado: Pardon for Dead Recipient

It is reported that Governor Ritter on granted a "full and unconditional pardon" to 23-year old Joe Arridy. Well, actually Arridy was 23 in 1939, when he was executed for the murder of a 15-year old. According to this report, Arridy had a 45 IQ, but gave a Wyoming sheriff "a full and detailed account of the murder." He was also "tried twice," and found guilty "although he probably was not even in Pueblo at the time."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Colorado: 20 Pardons!

Gov. Bill Ritter is on his way out of office so he is granting last-minute, Christmas time pardons like 18th century monarch. One of 20 pardons granted today, went to the Reverend Leon Kelley who "has devoted his life to helping teens and ex-convicts escape or avoid gangs." A public statement says the individuals who were pardoned "have demonstrated great remorse, an effort at redeeming themselves from prior criminal acts, and in some cases, significant involvement in their community."

The Governor also says that he pardoned people whose whose careers were affected by their convictions, so they could "move forward forward as a productive member of the workforce, of their community and of society."

Indeed, hopefully, none of the waited too many years for what the Governor is also allowed to do any time during the first three years of the term, and - believe it or not - in all twelve months of the year! In Ritter's defense, his predecessor, Bill Owens (R) granted only 13 pardons in 8 years! See story here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Colorado: Ritter Saves Justice for Last-Minute Consideration

KDVR Fox 31, Denver, reports that Governor Bill Ritter claims to be working on a "stack full" of clemency applications. He leaves office on January 11. The report says Ritter's "legal counsel" says the governor (a former prosecutor)  "has granted a handful of pardon requests over the past four years." We are left to guess that they must not keep track of these things well in Colorado, or it is all kept very secret, or the reporter just didn't have the time to gather any pertinent facts for the story! The report does share that former Republican Governor Bill Owens granted 13 pardons in the eight years that he was in office. See story here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Colorado: Juvenile Clemency

The Denver Post is reporting on what it calls "the nation's first juvenile-clemency board," established by Gov. Bill Ritter. A panel has "delved into individual cases" and established "eligibility criteria" and "an application process." The Post says "some final clemency decisions likely will come before the end of the year." Mark Noel, the state director for extradition and clemency, is quoted as saying, "This is all new ground. We've had inquiries from all over the world about this board. It's a very careful, serious, deliberate process. These are murder cases. You don't want to rush something like this." Says the Post:

The board makes nonbinding recommendations to the governor, who can reduce a sentence or deny clemency. Offenders who are denied must wait three years to reapply. The seven-member board also will see its first turnover, as one member leaves for health reasons. Currently, the board has no African-American representation — a situation juvenile advocates would like to see change.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Colorado: Juvenile Clemency

The Rocky Mountain News reports that, last year, Colorado's Juvenile Clemency Board was held out as "a last ray of hope for young prisoners serving time for crimes they committed in their teens." In his executive order establishing the Board last fall, Gov. Bill Ritter (D) attempted to design the Board for juvenile offenders who had been tried as adults. But the Board has since adopted criteria requiring each applicant to have been a "juvenile when he was tried and convicted as an adult." As a result, the Board does not consider the age of offenders at the time of the offense. Instead it considers their age at the time of conviction, or even sentencing. The piece notes "many cases, especially murder charges, can take a year or more to get to trial" and "a number of young prisoners become ineligible" under these guidelines. A resolution of these complications is expected in June. See story here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Colorado: Post Wishes Moses-EL Lotsa Luck

The Denver Post has taken an editorial stance against legislation requiring courts to hold a new trial if DNA evidence that was supposed to be preserved instead was destroyed. As far as the Post is concerned, the court system "already provides avenues of recourse for those who say they were wrongly convicted" and the bill would add "an additional process" and force judges to hold unwarranted, new trials. The Post is also concerned that the legislation "sets no deadlines for such actions" and that it contradicts another DNA bill being debated in the legislature. Why the legalisation? The Post explains:
Certainly, the case should have been handled better, particularly with regard to DNA evidence. As part of his post-conviction appeals, Moses-EL got a court order in 1995 to have evidence tested for DNA. The evidence was packaged and ready for defense lawyers to pick up. After a month, it was thrown away as part of routine housekeeping by a clerk who didn't notice the "do not destroy" notation. That was wrong, but the action was reviewed by the courts, which deemed the destruction was not done in bad faith.
As for Moses-El, the Post writes:
... we would encourage [Representative] Gordon to put his efforts into an appeal to the governor for clemency.
In addition, the Post says it is "not as convinced of the innocence of Moses-EL as others." To see why, read the article here. See also PardonPower's previous discussion of the case here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Colorado: Request

Gov. Bill Ritter (D) will be asked to commute the 48-year prison sentence of Clarence Moses-El, or grant a pardon. Moses-El was convicted of rape in 1987 although there was no physical evidence. The victim is said to have named three other suspects before telling prosecutors that her attacker's identity came to her in a dream. In 1995, Moses-El gathered donations from fellow inmates for a DNA test only to learn that the Denver police had thrown what evidence they had away! The "DO NOT DESTROY" labels were ignored. Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver now asks, "Who bears the consequences of the destruction of a lot of crucial evidence by law enforcement?" and has introduced Senate Bill 205, which would require courts to grant a new trial if material evidence subject to court ordered preservation is destroyed, lost or otherwise disposed of by law enforcement. Gordon will also be asking Gov. Ritter to either commute Moses-El's sentence or pardon him. See story here. Additional background on the case can be found in the Denver Post, here and here.

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