Showing posts with label Indiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indiana. Show all posts

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ricky Ray, Karla Faye and Keith Cooper

According to the Washington Post, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Mike Pence "has issued only three pardons in Indiana since he took office in 2012." The Post notes that, in contrast, his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, "issued more than 60 during his eight years" as governor of Indiana. The Post probably should have also noted Daniels granted only 1 request in his first four years.

In addition, there is the case of Keith Cooper, which the Post describes as "complicated." Cooper and another suspect were arrested for attempted murder and armed robbery in 1997. Cooper claimed he had never even met his co-defendant, but matched a description, was convicted and given a 40-year prison sentence. The Post says "evidence of Cooper’s innocence surfaced years later."

DNA from a hat left at the crime scene "belonged to someone else." It was later traced to another man who had committed a murder in Michigan some years later. Victims and eyewitnesses have also "since recanted their original statements about Cooper" and have accused a police detective of "manipulating" them into "identifying" him. Consequently, Cooper left prison in 2006, after serving less than 10 years. Amazingly:
... Cooper’s co-defendant, Parish, had been exonerated. In 2005, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned his conviction. Parish also had won a civil rights lawsuit against Elkhart County officials, along with a nearly $5 million settlement ...
However, the Post reports, a judge gave Cooper "two options." He could "pursue a new trial" and possibly remain in prison a few more years, awaiting the outcome, or he could "accept a deal" allowing him to exit prison with his felony conviction "intact." Cooper chose a "deal" in 2006, but is now seeking a new trial ... and a pardon ... from Mike Pence.

Hard not to recall candidate Bill Clinton trying to out "law and order" his Republican opponent by allowing the execution of the "mentally insufficient" African-American Ricky Ray Rector, in 1992. Hard not to think of George W. Bush's seeming callousness toward the reformed Karla Faye Tucker, who was executed in 1998.

Pence’s general counsel says Cooper must exhaust all of his appeal options in court before petitioning for a pardon. The judicial process must first take its course. Blah. Blah. Everyone with even casual familiarity with the pardon power (state or federal) knows such matters constitute no real limitation on a governor's use of the pardon power, or a president's ... unless they chose to make such things a limitation. This a matter of discretion, not law. The truly critical thing here is how Pence uses the power given to him and the discretion he has to employ that power.

Posing as if he is constricted by law is ... quite unimpressive ... a giant red flag.

See full story here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Indiana: Paucity of Mercy and Deserved Scrutiny

Mitch Daniels: Short on Mercy
This blog has long noted that regular, consistent use of the clemency power can have two general effects 1) it can educate the citizenry re the routine nature of the power, making them less susceptible to sensational media characterizations, and it follows that 2) the media are less likely to even attempt such characterizations. That is to say, a little less effort will be made to manufacture "controversy" by drawing tenuous conclusions based on strings of plausible, but highly remote and indirect factors, linked by imaginations desperate for a "story."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Indiana: Pardon for the Deer Saviours?


Court: "...the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction"

Mr. Bumble: "If the law supposes that, the law is an ass - an idiot."
                               
- Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (1838)


Sometimes, those with little interest in law and politics ask, "Why even have a pardon power? If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Blah. Blah. Blah." Read on curious readers. Read on !

Jeff and Jennifer Counceller are looking at a trial this March. Their crime? USA Today reports that they "found an injured fawn, nursed it back to health and raised it to adulthood with the intention of releasing it to the wild." But, before all of that could happen, they were charged with "illegal possession of a white-tailed deer" (a misdemeanor), and could be sent to jail 60 days and fined as much as $500.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Indiana: Pardon

Jesse Gomez wants to run for a position on the school board this fall. But he was barred from holding public office because of a 29-year-old criminal conviction! Yes, back in 1983, Gomez pleaded guilty to drug possession and the offense was reduced to a misdemeanor.  Now, an employee for Defense Department contractor Northrop Grumman Corp., Gomez says his boss encouraged him to seek a pardon. See more on the story here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Indiana: The Clemency Process

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has an interesting story on the clemency process in Indiana. It is reported that "during his more than seven years in office, 200 pardon applications have flowed to the governor. Of those, the board gave nonbinding nods to 65 and the governor granted just 45, or 23 percent of those requested." It is also reported that "with about eight months left in his tenure, the parole board is piling up a list of pardons for the governor to review." But Daniels says no one should expect a Haley Barbour type exit. The story also says a "majority" of the pardon he has granted "have involved stealing; either theft, burglary, receiving stolen property or robbery. A handful of cases have involved possession of drugs, a few drunken driving, a few arson and a few other offenses." See story here

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Media's Willie Horton Problem

The Seattle Post Intelligencer recognizes the importance of the pardon power in presidential contests - as we did in a recent post - but draws some interesting, and sometimes odd, conclusions given that point. For example, it is suggested that if executive decision making falls short of utter and complete perfection, for all time, then there may very well be dire electoral consequences. Not so much because voters will hold former executives to such a lofty standard, but because "opposition research" and the traction it will gain in the media will make such a standard seem plausible and relevant.

The article refers to the "Willie Horton problem" (the image of "a violent or deranged felon run amok on their watch") and suggests "the issue of pardons and furloughs is one that could play an unexpected and damaging role for some campaigns" in 2012. We have never had any reason to doubt it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Governor From the Midwest is Convicted.

On August 31, 1923, Warren T. McCray, Republican Governor of Indiana, sat down in the Rainbow Room of the Hotel Severin (Indianapolis) with a group of one hundred and fifty bankers and lawyers. There was some good news and some bad news.

The good news was that the Governor had a little over three million dollars in personal assets and he was the proud owner of almost sixteen thousand acres of land. Most of the people in the room were probably not all that amazed because they were quite familiar with McCray’s amazing life story. At the age of fifteen, he began working at his father's bank and assumed ownership bank when his father died in 1913. McCray also owned several grain elevators and a livestock farm where he bred Hereford cattle and, on occasion, sold single bulls for as much as twenty five thousand dollars. Warren T. McCray became known as the “Hereford King.” But there was some bad news as well.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Indiana: Prosecutor Objects to Application

Michael Steele was convicted for the murder of Police Sergeant Brant "Butch" Nine in 1988. He was also convicted for attempting to kill another police officer and the result was a 110-year sentence. But Steele filed an application for clemency one year ago and will have a second hearing on the matter April 2nd. A prosecutor pledges to oppose the request and petitions are said to be in circulation, calling on the Indiana State Parole Board to deny clemency. See story here and here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Indiana: Family Request

Gary attorney John H. Hall is asking President Barack Obama to grant presidential pardons to his wife, Katie Hall, and daughter, Junifer Hall. The women both plead guilty (after first pleading innocent), in 2003, to mail fraud, and Junifer received a 15-month prison sentence. It is reported that the two women "admitted" that they "extorted thousands of dollars from their employees, many of whom were low-income, single mothers and fired those who refused to kick back part of their paychecks to The Friends of Katie Hall, her campaign organization, forcing at least one of the victims onto welfare." See story here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Indiana: Hearing

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that 32-year old Harold D. Waller, will seek clemency from his 40 year sentence in a hearing next month. Waller was given $3,000 to kill a man who might testify in a trial. At the time, he (Waller) was just 16-years old. The Gazette reports "clemency must be granted by the governor, but the parole board decides whether to recommend it" and it is "rarely recommended or granted." See story here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Indiana: Father Opposes Release of Daughter's Killer

Donald Lee Jackson Jr., has petitioned Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to commute a portion of his 160-year prison sentence, making him eligible for parole. A hearing will be held on the matter on January 6. This is Jackson's second attempt at clemency and an assistant to the State's parole board says the application has a "very slim chance."

Ed Gray, however, has a different view of the matter. You see, Jackson kidnapped Gray's 23 year old daughter (who was also the mother of a two year old), drove her to a distant location, tied her up, beat her with rocks, strangled her and shot her twice in the back of the head. So, Gray is reported to be "urging friends, neighbors and anyone who will write to send Indiana corrections officials letters opposing Jackson's clemency." See full story here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Indiana: Request

The Journal Gazette reports that 48-year old Terry L. Lowery is asking the Indiana Parole Board to recommend clemency on his behalf. Lowery, who is serving a 60-year sentence, was convicted of beating a 13-year old young girl to death in the mid-1980s. But the Gazette reports the Board has a "scant history of granting such requests," and, given the nature of the crime, "it’s unlikely his request will proceed any further than his constitutional right to a hearing." It is also reported that, in 2007, the board heard 114 clemency requests and none were granted. Gov. Mitch Daniels has granted only one request in four years, and that involved a non-violent offender. Complicating the matter, is Lowry's insistence that he was at the scene of the crime, but is completely innocent. See story here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Indiana: Request

An appellate court has upheld the 37-month prison sentence that was given to R&B singer Ronald Isley for five counts of tax evasion. The 66-year old legend argued the sentence was "unreasonable" because of his age, poor health and lack of proof that the federal prison system can provide him adequate health care. The appellate court disagreed, however, and focused on on Isley's "pathological" tax evasion. Last July, Def Jam and Isley fans launched a letter-writing campaign to President George W. Bush in the hopes that he might pardon Isley, or at least commute the sentence. Isley is incarcerated at the Terre Haute Federal Corrections Institution in Indiana and his projected release date is in April 2010. See story here. See also my complete Pardon Watch List.

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