Showing posts with label Context. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Context. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gubernatorial Sentencing 101

Warren T. McCray, IN (1924) - 10 years, pardoned
William Langer, ND (1934) - 1 and 1/2 year, fine
Richard Leche, LA (1939) - 10 years, pardoned
Otto Kerner, IL (1973) - 3 years, fine
Dan Walker, IL (1977) - 7 years
Marvin Mandel, MD (1977) - 4 years, commutation of sentence
Ray Blanton, TN (1981) - 3 years
Guy Hunt, AL (1993) - 5 years probation
David Walters, OK (1994) - indicted, plead guilty to misdemeanor
Jim Guy Tucker, AR (1996) - 4 years probation
J. Fife Symington, AZ (1997) - 2 and 1/2 years, pardoned
Edwin W. Edwards, LA (1998) - 10 years, seeking clemency
Edward DiPrete, RI (1998) - 1 year
John G. Rowland, CN (2004) - 1 year and 1 day
Bob Taft, OH (2006) - fine, public reprimand
George Ryan, IL (2006) - 6 and 1/2 years, seeking clemency
Don Siegelman, AL (2006) - 7 years
Rod Blagojevich, IL (2010, 2011) - 14 years, fine

Blagojevich set the record for the longest prison sentence ever given to a State governor! Was it really the worst criminal behavior ever?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On Congressional "Support" for Pardons

In a 2004 Midwest Political Science Association conference paper (here), the Editor of PardonPower relayed the following anecdote:
Philander Chase Knox, the U.S. Attorney General from 1901-1904, discovered a culture of favor and expectation in Washington when he began his service in the second term of William McKinley. A member of Congress once approached him to seek a pardon for a robber who was also a “friend” and “great supporter.” When Knox balked at the request, the Congressman blurted angrily, “I understand that each Congressman has a right to two pardons during his term and I want this to be one of mine.”
The incident came to one's mind in 2001, as President Clinton was leaving office and granting all of those "controversial" pardons. Eventually, it was learned that several current and former members of Congress supported clemency applications in the final days of the Clinton administration. Among them were Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee) and former Senator David Pryor (Arkansas). Representatives Earl Hilliard (D-Alabama), Charles Rangel (D- New York), Jim Ramstad (R-Minnesota), Dale E. Kildee (D-Michigan), Danny Davis (D-Illinois), Maxine Waters (D-California), Patrick Kennedy (D- Rhode Island) and Xavier Becerra (D-California) lobbied for pardons as well as former Representatives William Clay (D-Missouri), Esteban Torres (D-California) and Ron Dellums (D-California).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Greenwald, Dramatist Extraordinaire!

It is reported that Glenn Greenwald's new book, entitled, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, argues:
the Nixon pardon set a precedent that ushered in an era of “elite immunity,” a two-tiered legal system that exempts the rich and powerful from the laws applied to other Americans. The legacy of the pardon, Greenwald writes, is that "the United States has become a nation that does not apply the rule of law to its elite class."
We certainly look forward to the data which support that claim, as well as these:
Nowadays, with only rare exceptions, each time top members of the nation’s political class are caught committing a crime, the same reasons are hauled out to get them off the hook.

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ken Burns' "Prohibition": Epic Fail

Part Two of Ken Burns' latest film, Prohibition, aired tonight on PBS. This part of the series highlighted the tension between the Eighteenth ( or "Prohibition") Amendment (1919) and the Volstead Act, but completely failed to mention the fact that President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act (or National Prohibition Act). Congress overrode Wilson's veto within two days, however, and the game was on.

Consequently, filmaker Burns also failed to mention the fact that President Wilson set records in his use of the pardon power and a very large number of his pardons were granted to persons that violated laws related to drugs and intoxicating liquors.

Indeed, the only mention of presidential pardons (in this, THE Golden Age of presidential pardons) that Burns makes in the entire episode relates to the unsubstantiated rumors the Warren Harding's Attorney General, Harry Daugherty, sold pardons.

What a shame it is to see such an acclaimed filmaker miss such important marks in an elaborate effort.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DOJ Audit of OPA

See "Audit of the Department of Justice Processing of Clemency Petitions." U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, Audit Report 11-45, September 2011.

This Report finds that there was a time when the pardon power of the president was not in complete atrophy, but, in recent years very few pardons and commutations of sentence have been granted. At the same time, the number of petitions has increased and the number of unaddressed petitions in the Office of the Pardon Attorney (backlog) has increased as well.

In the past three years, a record number of clemency applications (well over 6,000) have denied - more than the number denied in the previous 13 years combined! As a result, some have suspected that applications have not been given serious review. Nonetheless, the Report does conclude that the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) - while having "few written polices and procedures for processing clemency applications" - utilizes "a reasonable approach" in its investigation of the "merits" of clemency applications and to "develop its recommendations." It also notes that the current pardon attorney has "increased the number of unpaid law student interns" in his office and brought the OPA support staff to six attorneys.

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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Obama: Nearing 900 Day Mark

First Pardon
First Commutation
Truman (s)
Johnson (s)
Ford (s)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Prelude: The Jin Fuey Moy Case

Ah, who could forget the old RCIRISTPPIMCDDSDGOCLSDPOP? What? You don’t remember the Act to Provide for the Registration of, with Collectors of Internal Revenue, and to Impose a Special Tax Upon, All Persons Who Produce, Import, Manufacture, Compound, Deal in, Dispense, Sell, Distribute, or Give Away Opium or Cocoa Leaves, Their Salts, Derivatives, or Preparations, and for Other Purposes? Unbelievable! The Act required such persons to register and pay a “special tax” at a rate of $1 per annum. Although it provided for “certain exceptions,” the Act was serious stuff. Those who were in violation were subject to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years.

Jin Fuey Moy was practicing physician in Pittsburg in the early 1900s. Moy would prescribe considerable quantities of morphine sulphate or morphine tablets to individuals after “superficial” physical examinations, or no examination at all! He would, however, emphasize that patients use the drugs “as directed." The only problem with that was that the “directions" were such that the recipient was generally left to use the drug “virtually as he pleased.”

Sometimes, in order to avoid paperwork, prescriptions were confirmed over the telephone. They were also always filled at the same drug store because, as Moy explained to his patients, he and the particular pharmacist there did "business" with and “understood” each other.

Dr. Moy would grant multiple prescriptions to the same patient. Sometimes, he would grant them to a fictitious wife, or two, or a relative (who may or may not have actually existed) in some other state. By the Spring of 1917, Moy was issuing such prescriptions hundreds of times each month. Every now and then, the pharmacist would send patients back to Moy with unfilled prescriptions because it was “taking too big a chance.”

Moy was eventually indicted on 20 counts. He was acquitted on 12 of them, but convicted on 8 which charged that he “unlawfully, willfully, knowingly, and feloniously sell, barter, exchange, and give away certain derivative of salt opium [not] in pursuance of a written order from such person on a form issued in blank for that purpose by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.” His appeal to the United States Supreme Court, however, constituted the first test of the constitutionality of the big boy - the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 (which made exceptions for patients with “legitimate” prescriptions granted in “good faith” by medical physicians). In addition, prosecutors went after one of Moy’s patients, an addict, one Willie Martin, charging that he was in violation of the law for mere possession of drugs.

NEXT: The Supreme Court's ruling and The President Responds.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Speaking of Pardons and Outlaw Types ...

Presidents have granted clemency to the likes of:

Ed Reed (1883) - horse thief, son of Belle Starr, "the Outlaw Queen," or "the Female Jesse James" and the outlaw James Reed (of the James-Younger Gang)

Bluford Duck (1895) - murderer who took the time to pose for a nice portrait just after he was sentenced to hang by Isaac Parker

David Anderson (1896) - aka "Billy Wilson" and "Buffalo Bill," joined Billy the Kid's gang, arrested by Pat Garrett, escaped from prison and went all respectable

Henry Starr (1903) - who started robbing banks on horseback and graduated to the automobile.

Al Jennings (1907) - from a gang to politics and the movies

Saturday, July 10, 2010

SHOCK: Obama Passes John Adams in Clemency Neglect

Barack Obama continues to make history in extraordinary ways!

This weekend, he passes a mark set by John Adams way back in August of 1798. That is when Adams granted his first presidential pardon (to a man convicted of larceny). Adams had waited 536 days into his administration before using the power that George Washington used in a somewhat controversial way just as he was leaving office.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The First Spy Pardon

James Madison granted the first presidential pardon to a spy in the fourth year of his first term. The recipient was one John Ryan (of Great Britain - captured in New York) who was sentenced to the gallows by General William Wadsworth after the decision of a unanimous court.

President Madison "approved" of the sentence, but granted a pardon nonetheless.

The clemency warrant was signed on November 10, 1812.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

By the Numbers ...

91 Average number of days between becoming president and granting one's first pardon (minus George Washington)
102 Average number of days between beginning of presidential term and first pardon (all presidents, every term)
133 Average number of days between becoming president and granting one's first pardon (all presidents)
532 Number of days President Obama has gone without granting a single pardon or commutation of sentence

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Director Who Could (or Would) Not Count

Robert Kennedy once boasted that he and his brother “made a real major effort and really major breakthrough” when it came to pardons and commutations. The notion was certainly enhanced by James V. Bennett’s 1970 book entitled I Chose Prison. Bennett, who served as Director of the Bureau of Prisons from 1937 to 1964, praised Kennedy for his exceptional “compassion.” He also claimed that his fellow Democrat “used his powers of granting executive clemency more often than any other President in our history.”

The observation may have appeared all the more impressive by the fact that, at the time Bennett’s book was published, the pardoning power seemed to be a thing of the past. Lyndon Johnson granted no pardons in the last seven months of his administration and Richard Nixon pardoned no one in his first nine months as president.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Obama Passes 500th Day Mark

The Obama administration is now 508 days old and had yet to grant a single pardon or commutation of sentence. In a matter of days, the administration will pass that of John Adams (1797-1801) in the highest realms of clemency neglect / tardiness and, very soon, will be outranked by only three other presidents: George Washington, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Washington, of course, is an awkward fit for the contest, in general, as he was the Nation's very first president and criminal law was not yet so federalized. So, as it stands, in matters of clemency, the administration that promised Hope and Change is, if anything, going to be remembered as a very disappointing carbon copy of sorry record left by the previous two administrations.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thinking Out Loud Re Obama's Clemency Negligence

As of Monday, President Obama will have gone a whopping 475 days without granting a single pardon or commutation of sentence. As a result, only four presidents have ever been slower to exercise the pardon power: George Washington, John Adams, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Our own instinct is to guess that Obama will, in fact, pass Adams (who is quite nearby, at the 536 days mark). So, in our mind, it is really only a matter of whether the President will finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the history books.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Obama: Slow, Even for a Democrat

Research by political scientists (Ruckman) and economists (Posner and Landes) has shown that Democratic presidents are more likely to use the pardon power than Republican presidents. For this reason, it seems prudent to compare Barrack Obama with his peers. Click on the chart to the left for one point of comparison.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

USA Today on Obama, Clemency Trends

Providing charts of data that (for some very odd reason) only go back as far as the Ford succession administration, Mimi Hall of USA Today guesses that President Obama "has received more petitions for pardons and shorter prison sentences than previous presidents at this point in office." We thought, therefore, that we would provide a public service here.

Then, in a couple of sentences we are still trying to decipher, USA Today notes:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Re: Justice Kennedy's Concern About Obama's Commutations (or Lack Thereof)

Click on chart to enlarge.

Chart: Most Pardons Granted in a Singled Day

Click on chart to enlarge.

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