Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Decline in Christmas Clemency?

In December of 1999, an article in Christian Science Monitor suggested that, in recent years, there has been a decline in "Christmas Clemency." The article was generally based on the fact that President Clinton had gone a couple of Decembers without granting any pardons or commutations of sentence. Otherwise, no data were presented on the topic.

Using our own original data, we have calculated the total number of December pardons and commutations of sentence, by year and administration, from 1945 (Truman) to 2010 (Obama). Click on the image to the left.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pardoned: Public Goon Number 1

Everyone remembers that Richard Nixon commuted the sentence of Jimmy Hoffa, but few people remember that Gerald Ford pardoned Teamster legend David Beck.

Beck once entertained the idea of going to law school. And he later observed that, given his numerous courtroom appearances, such training “would have come in handy.” But, instead, the path of the high school dropout’s life seemed to be set on December 1, 1924, when he was elected secretary to a Laundry Driver’s Union. Shortly thereafter, Beck attended his first meeting of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and was given a five hundred dollar a month job as part-time general “organizer.” He then became a full-time “organizer” for the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Incorrect Open Letter Sent Incorrectly to Obama is featuring an "open letter" to President Obama. Along the way, the letter mentions a "Saudi student" named Humeidan Al-Turki, who has, evidently, lost an appeal of his case to the Supreme Court. The letter notes that John F. Kennedy pardoned Hank Greenspan, "the leader of a smuggling network of arms to Israel." It notes that Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush pardoned Orlando Bosch, "one of the most aggressive terrorists who had masterminded the bombing of a civilian aircraft, one of his many terrorist acts." Finally, it notes that Bill Clinton pardoned Al Schwimmer "who was accused of organizing a network smuggling arms to Israel" and George W. Bush "issued a pardon" I. Lewis Libby "after being indicted on lying and perjury charges, the most ugly charges in the dictionary of American justice."

The letter then asks, rhetorically:
Mr. President, is the Saudi student’s (presumably accused of harassing his maid) action more serious than charges of those convicted of election fraud, bombing planes, lying, and possession and smuggling of arms and drugs?
PardonPower offers the following information as a public service: 1. At this point, Humeidan Al-Turki is not "presumably accused." He is, instead, convicted of aggravated sexually harassment of his Indonesian maid while keeping her in a condition of forced labor / servitude all for a wage of less than two dollars a day. He has also been sentenced to a prison term of 28 years. 2. Al-Turki was convicted in the State of Colorado, in Arapahoe County, in a state court, not a federal U.S. District Court. President Obama, however, cannot pardon persons convicted of state crimes. For information on clemency in the State of Colorado, follow this link3. George H.W. Bush did not pardon Orlando Bosch. For that matter 4. George W. Bush did not pardon Mr. Libby either. Bush merely commuted the prison sentence portion of Libby's punishment. See full "open letter" here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rostenkowski, Dead

Former Illinois Democratic Representative Dan Rostenkowski, who plead guilty to two (of seventeen original) counts of mail fraud and went to federal prison for a year and a half, has died at the age of 82. Rostenkowski served 18 terms in Congress, but feared that his obituary would generally be "Dan Rostenkowski, felon." Bill Clinton, however, granted the Chicagoan a presidential pardon, and the application was supported by former Republican President Gerald R. Ford (whose judgement in matters related to clemency is, of course, legendary). NPR reports Rostenkowski admitted to "hiring people on his congressional payroll who did little or no official work - but took care of his lawn, took photographs at political events and family weddings, helped his family's business and supervised the renovation of his house." Rostenkowski argued that his fraudulent use of thousands upon thousands of tax payers' dollar was a mere violation of House rules and not an actual "crime." Good bye, Dan. Good riddance! See full story here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Becker on Ford's Pardon of Nixon

Last night, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library hosted a lecture by Benton Becker, a key advisor to the President on the pardon of Richard Nixon. More specifically, Becker was asked to research two questions 1) could a pardon be issued before any charges were filed? and 2) does the president have the right to issue a blanket pardon absolving a would-be defendant of whatever charges he may face? Becker filed a response here which gave Ford the "go" signal on both counts. Ford then sent him to Nixon's ranch in order to get Nixon to 1) sign over his presidential papers 2) accept the pardon in writing and 3) to convey to Nixon that acceptance of the pardon was an admission of guilt. See story here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Context: Ah, The Good Old Days of Preemptive / Blanket Pardons

Christmas 1863 probably wasn't the best of times for John Ashbury of Missouri. He was under indictment for "Conspiracy against the Government." In addition, he was considered an "old" and "poor" man. One wonders if he could have ever really expected that Abraham Lincoln would take the time to sit down and write:
Now therefore be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, in consideration the premises diverse and other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving, do hereby grant a free and full pardon to the said John Ashbury for the offenses of which he is indicted and for all similar offenses by him committed previous to the month of February, A.D. 1862.
Ashbury was off the hook .... after being charged with "Conspiracy against the United States!" Just like that. No trial. No conviction. No sentence. What the judicial system had to say just did not matter. The whole "government of laws and not men" thing seemed out of whack. And, whoever Mr. Ashbury was, he far from being alone.

Lincoln trashed judicial proceedings with separate preemptive blanket pardons for 16 others under indictment for conspiracy. Their warrants employed the same language ... "all crimes" ... "all similar offenses." He also eased judicial caseloads by granting 10 separate blanket pardons to individuals under indictment for treason. M.G. Singleton and Henry L. Routts and Henry Fort got such pardons while under indictment for treason and conspiracy! Others got preemptive pardons from Lincoln while under indictment for robbing the mail or aiding and comforting rebels.

In other instances, persons were charged, tried, or at least being detained, for a variety of crimes and Lincoln got them off the hook - or freed them - with blanket pardons. John Winter, John S. Fitzhugh and Frankin D. Graham, for example, were found guilty of treason and Lincoln pardoned them:
... of all treasons, felonies and other crimes by them or either of them committed before the first day of August AD 1861.
Ditto for 23 others. In other words, 56 of Lincoln's individuals pardons (or about 1 out of every 15 that he granted - and he granted almost 400 of them) derailed the judicial process and/or granted blanket immunity for such high crimes as treason and conspiracy against the United States of America.

So, the next time you hear about how "rare" and dramatic Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon was (especially because Nixon was not tried and the pardon covered crimes that he may have committed), take a second to remember the other president from Illinois.

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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