Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monitor in Over Its Head

Over at the Christian Science Monitor, they are sporting a list of ... well ... it isn't exactly easy to classify what it is. It is described as a "surprise" list of pardons, but at least three were hardly a "surprise," one was given to a dead person and another has not even been granted. Lesson? Don't try this at home kids! Wait for our own - more serious and relevant - Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010.

For now, here is what they came up with over at the Monitor:

6. Brian Aitken (hardly a surprise)
5. Ronald Foster (hardly significant!)
4. Apple and Cider (hardly a surprise)
3. The pardon capital: Nevis, Minn.
2. Jim Morrison, the Lizard King (dead)
1. Billy the Kid: A promised but deferred reprieve? (not yet granted)

See entire piece here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Florida: Clemency Decisions!

Florida AP reports Governor Crist and the State's Executive Clemency Board have "commuted the lengthy prison sentences of two women at their last executive clemency meeting before they leave office on Jan. 4." The Board is reported to have "considered" as many as 80 other requests "for pardons, commutations and the restoration of civil and gun possession rights."

61-year old Timothy YaQuinto, convicted of drug trafficking, had his civil rights restored. 49-year old Suzanne Squires had her 23-year sentence for a drunk driving crash commuted. She will have served 10 years. Monique Baker will be released from her 35-year sentence for cocaine trafficking. Jack Gruber was pardoned for his 1983 burglary conviction. See full story here.

Florida: Commutation of Sentence reports that the State's Board of Executive Clemency has voted unanimously to commute the 35-year prison sentence of 50-year old Monique Baker. Baker, described as "model inmate," was "classified as a habitual offender after committing burglary and other crimes to support a life of substance abuse."  Her original sentence was actually 90 years. A former high school principal, a retired sheriff's office "official" and a "civic activist" testified on Baker's behalf. See full story here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dave Diamond on Morrison Pardon

Dave Diamond, of send us this note:

Professor, [I] have a newer, developing story to share with you, just passed on to me here. As you can see, it has come out that a witness has come forward and admitted perjury! This adds to the already growing list of technicalities and legal/constitutional flaws associated with this matter, as our basis for making the request to Governor Crist in the first place:

1. Witnesses lied
2. Unresolved appeal, case never abated- as was done in the Ken Lay/Enron trial
3. No one on the Morrison jury under the age of 40- Morrison was 26, hardly a jury of his peers
4. Jury found him not guilty on public intox, which he clearly was
5. Jury found him guilty on the indecent exposure, the one thing the State could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt
6. Not all of Morrison's accusers were called to testify, denying his right to face his accusers (all of them)
7. Presiding Judge refused to allow defense to present exonorating evidence

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Florida: Mercy for 69-Year Old?

Mary Taylor Christensen - the former wife of the Thrifty-Nickel newspaper publisher - was 64 years old when she hit and killed a 40-year old man with her car. To make matters worse, she fled the scene. To make matters even more worse, she was driving under the influence of alcohol - nearly three times the legal limit to be exact. Christensen told a judge that she wished that she had been the one who died in the incident, but she received an 11-year prison sentence.  Now, after serving two years of her sentence, she is applying for a commutation of sentence from the State's Clemency Board. A state's attorney says she should have to serve out the sentence. She is also reported to be "one of about 80" applications that will "go before the board next week," along with that of the Doors front man Jim Morrison. See story here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Priorities of Charlie Crist

The Florida Independent notes that "despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled that Florida’s practice of sentencing juveniles to life for nonmurder crimes is unconstitutional, Florida’s many juvenile prisoners have not seen much mercy." Instead "several juveniles have been re-sentenced to terms that still amount to life sentences." According to the Lakeland Ledger, "experts" report that there are "at least 116 prisoners" in such situations. On the other hand, the Governor has an excellent record when it comes to pardoning unrepentant, dead, dope headed "rock" stars. See story here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Connecticut: More Sensible than Florida

The long-dead Jim Morrison may be up for pardon in Florida, but in Connecticut, where he was arrested, it simply does not matter. Morrison was arrested in December of 1967 in New Haven. He was fined $25, but the Connecticut Post quotes the director of the State Board of Pardons as saying:
"We don't do that ... Our position has always been that the request for a pardon has to come from the person himself. It's come up before regarding the people convicted as witches. People have gone to the Legislature seeking to exonerate the witches too. The Legislature can pass a resolution, but it can't pardon anybody."
A spokesperson for the governor also says that he does not have the authority to do anything either. See story here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Florida: Morrison and Five Reasons

The Broward / Palm Beach NewTimes blog provides five reason why Jim Morison should not be pardoned. The consideration is labeled "completely misguided" and a "frivolous cause." Elaboration is provided for each reason, but here they are 1) Jim Morrison did something awful that night. 2)  Jim Morrison's legacy isn't tarnished. 3) School ties shouldn't bind 4) Jim Morrison showed no remorse. 5) Jim Morrison is dead. See full article here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Toronto Star Mocks Crist

On the news that recently defeated Governor Charlie Crist is considering a posthumous pardon of Doors "singer" Jim Morrison, the Toronto Star features an article entitled, "Want to rescue a political legacy? Pardon a rock star." The article suggests Crist is attempting to "dent the headshop T-shirt business" by pardoning the "bad poet" and "middling singer best known for being born handsome." The ending is downright lyrical:
And it is nice to know that, while running a state that will soon be underwater, Crist’s got his last-minute priorities straight. If Charlie Crist’s house was on fire, he’d be the guy trying to pull the washing machine out of the basement.
See story here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Florida: Request

Thomas Lee Morgan is the nephew of the late Herb Morgan, a well respected former State representative, but, in 1992, Thomas was also sentenced to 10 years' probation for sexual battery against his former wife. That landed him on the State's sex offender registry. Now, two decades later, the 52-year old wants Governor Charlie Crist to remove his name from the list via executive clemency. The St. Petersburg Times reports that the State's Board of Clemency is considering his request and promising that, after the upcoming election, it will "consider new rules to make it simpler for ex-offenders filing such requests."  Says the Times:
The case has obvious political overtones. Two clemency board members, Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, are in competitive races for the U.S. Senate and governor, respectively. Granting a full pardon to a registered sex offender so close to an election could invite explosive charges from political opponents, but Crist said that did not affect his judgment.
Crist says the election is no factor in his derision making, but the Times observes that "only Attorney General Bill McCollum, who recently lost a bid for the Republican nomination for governor, advocated removing Morgan's name from the offender list." See complete story here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Florida: Commutation of Sentence

Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now running for a seat in the U.S. Senate, has commuted the life-sentence of 54-year-old Clyde Timothy Bunkley to time served. As a result, Bunkley will step out of prison after serving almost 25 years! Crist later said that his decision was driven, in part, by the fact that Bunkley hurt no one, even though he was carrying a short-bladed unopened knife during a robbery. In 1997, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in a manner that disallowed life-sentences for possession of short-bladed knives during a burglary, but the decision was not applied retroactively to Bunkley.  See full story here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Florida: DNA Press Conference

This Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Derrick Williams’ attorneys from the Innocence Project of Florida will hold a press conference to release new DNA test results that demonstrate Mr. Williams’ innocence of a 1993 Palmetto, Manatee County, Florida kidnapping and rape.

Attorneys from the Innocence Project of Florida will discuss the results and take press questions regarding the case at this press conference. Members of Mr. Williams’ family will also be available for comment at this time. Florida’s most recent DNA exonoree, James Bain, will be in attendance to show support for Mr. Williams and his family. Bain’s 35 years of wrongful incarceration is the longest time served by any of the 255 DNA exonorees nationwide.

The press conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. on the west side of the new Manatee County Courthouse (in the courtyard between the old and new courthouses), 1051 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL.

The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people in Florida prisons. IPF represents Derrick Williams for free, including all costs associated with DNA testing and litigation. IPF’s website is

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Florida: Bowden Supports (and Wins ) Clemency!

In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the editor of this blog does not need another 1,000 reasons to love, admire and respect Coach Bobby Bowden!

It is reported that the legendary Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden made an appearance at a clemency hearing on behalf of former running back Sammie Smith, who was arrested for cocaine possession 15 years ago. Bowden said it was a "privilege" to speak on Smith's behalf and expressed his confidence that Smith's future would not feature such notable mistakes. Like most clemency applicants, the 43-year-old Smith was only seeking to have his civil rights restored. He has already served out his seven year prison sentence.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Florida: Pardon

Gov. Charlie Crist has pardoned Stephen Mackewitz, a former landscape worker who was convicted of commercial littering in the early 1990s. See story here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Florida: Grossman Executed

Martin Edward Grossman committed murder almost twenty-five years ago. Tuesday, he was executed at Florida State Prison. Several prominent Jewish groups sought clemency on his behalf. A request for mercy even came from the Vatican! An online petition supposedly gathered more than 30,000 signatures. Grossman admitted his guilt and expressed remorse. His supporters noted all of this and the fact that he had a low IQ, a history of epilepsy and was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the crime.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Not the First Bomber to Ever be Pardoned !

46 year-old Marie John (pictured on left) has been charged by the Daytona Beach Shores police with attempted murder after being caught trying to light a rag stuffed into a beer bottle full of gasoline and attempting to throw it at one Jason Ward. Afterward, police say they found several "Molotov cocktails" and a supply of gasoline in John's housing unit at Pirate's Cove condos. It is also reported, however that John explained her behavior. She informed the Daytona Beach Shores police that she had actually received a presidential pardon which granted her immunity to "pump gas" and create bombs. What could the police say? The bombs were right there in front of their own eyes!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dershowitz on the Grossman Case

Alan Deshowitz argues that Martin Grossman "does ‎not belong on death row" because the murder he committed occurred "when he was a teenager, was unplanned, ‎unpremeditated and impulsive - the product of a serious mental illness, that can now be proved ‎by medical technology that was unavailable at the time of his sentencing." Therefore, says Dershowitz, Grossman should not be "rushed to execution while doubts remain unresolved." He should be "‎given the 60 days to prove that he does not deserve to die at the hands of the state.” ‎ See article here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Florida: Call for Clemency from Jewish Organizations

 The executive heads of seven Jewish organizations have sent a letter to Governor Crist asking him to grant clemency to Martin Grossman, who is scheduled for execution next Tuesday. More specifically, Crist is being asked to commute the death sentence to life in prison. Grossman murdered a Florida Wildlife Officer when he was 19 years old and, according to his supporters, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It is argued that Grossman has been a "model prisoner" for 25 years. He is also said to have shown "profound remorse and regret for his actions.” It is reported that more than 200 organizations have sent Governor Crist a petition requesting a 60-day stay of the execution, in order to properly file an official request for clemency. See story here.

Crist's status as the front-runner for a seat in the U.S. Senate has eroded largely because of the perception that he is Republican in name only (RINO). The primary evidence against him seems to have been his warming up to President Obama's "stimulus plan." But, more importantly, from the standpoint of Mr. Grossman, Crist has not yet received - or been denied - his party's nomination for a seat in the United States Senate. Which is to say, as reasonable as the request for a mere chance to apply for clemency might seem, the timing of the situation simply could not be worse.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Florida: Commutation of Sentence

Gov. Charlie Crist has commuted the 16-year prison sentence of Jennifer Martin, who was convicted of manslaughter in a 1998 car crash and, as a result, she will be released on Wednesday. A former prosecutor supported the application. See story here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Florida: Former Gator, Steeler, Pardoned

The Associated Press reports that former University of Florida football team captain who served two years in federal prison on a drug conviction has had his rights restored by the Florida Board of Executive Clemency . William Owen Bartuff says his involvement in a drug conspiracy was "minimal" but he now needs a state licence to practice as a chiropractor. The panel voted 4-0 in favor of clemency. See story here.

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