Showing posts with label New Hampshire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Hampshire. Show all posts

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Hampshire: Lessons from a Goofy Editorial

The Concord Monitor features an editorial entitled: "Two Lessons from a Pardon Denied." It is an exceptionally goofy effort which well illustrates two lessons very well.

First, the piece states the Monitor was "neither surprised nor disappointed" that one Thomas Schoolscraft was denied pardon. Presumably, the lack of surprise is not a real feat as it is probably the case that the majority of the State's clemency applications fail. Which is to say, we are not impressed. But no "disappointment" that a pardon was denied? The Monitor must know something. What?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Hampshire: Ward Bird Free!

The New Hampshire Executive Council has voted 5-0 to commute the three year sentence of  49-year old Ward Bird, who will be released after serving only two months. Bird had initially sought a full pardon - something that has only been obtained twice by anyone in the last 15 years.

The Council actually voted in Bird's favor, but Gov. John Lynch vetoed the pardon. The Council then voted to commute his sentence, and the Governor the decision stand - making Bird's the first commutation of sentence in his six-year administration. As a result, Bird's felony 2008 conviction for "criminal threatening with a firearm" will remain on his record. In addition, he can no longer own or possess a firearm (rights which a pardon would restore). Says Bird:
"As God is my witness and on the honor of my family and friends in this room today, I did not point or wave a firearm at Christine Harris." 
Bird will be eligible to reapply for a full pardon in two years. See story here and here and here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Hampshire: Major Call for Pardon!

More than 100 State Representatives have signed a petition, asking Governor John Lynch to release a 49-year old farmer, one Ward Bird, before Christmas. Bird, the owner of 60 acres, warned an individual to get off of his property, which was posted with "no trespassing" and "private property" signs. At the time, he was carrying a gun. But, according to him, it never left the holster. Oddly, the individual (a convicted felon) was never charged with trespassing, even though she refused to leave the property.

Bird's wife and four children may be hopeful, but, according to this source, it just isn't going to happen. His clemency application is said to be "making its way through the system." After rejecting a plea bargain, Bird did not testify on his own behalf and his lawyers never called a single witness to the stand. The result was a three-year prison sentence.

Since 2005, when he took office, Governor Lynch has granted only 2 pardon "hearings." One of the applications was then denied and the other was tabled. The result is that only about 20 people a year even bother to apply for a pardon in the State of New Hampshire. You can also read more about this story here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Hampshire: DUI Pardon Request

WMUI, Channel 9 reports that Eileen Kerwick is seeking a pardon after being convicted of five DUI offenses. It is reported that, under state law, "a person convicted of four DWI's can't petition to get their license back for at least seven years after their last conviction." But Kerwick is said to take "full responsibility" for her mistakes and is now "dedicated to sobriety." She also notes that her job, as a clinical supervisor for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock now requires her to "travel around the state." See full story here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Hampshire: Governor Lynch's "Pardon Program"

A quick call to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office (603-271-3658) reveals that the State's Governor John Lynch (D) and Executive Council (with 5 members, elected to 2 year terms) has received an average of about 20 to 25 applications for clemency per year over the last six years. Most of the applications have involved requests for pardons - to restore civil rights - in order to restore the gun ownership rights of hunters. Yet, over the entire six-year period, Lynch and the Council have rejected every single application, and have granted only ONE applicant the right to a mere "hearing."

Of course, by refusing law-abiding New Hampshire sportsmen the enjoyment of hunting, Lynch is not - in any meaningful sense of the language - being "tough on crime." No, he is simply being an opportunistic bully, a political coward that doesn't seem to understand that abuse of power can also involve inaction.

Supporting Application of a Donor

Edward J. Socha spent three years in prison for the role that he played in the arson of his home (a 100 year old mansion) in 1984. He later admitted to illegally cashing in on a $1 million insurance policy. Now, almost 30 years later, Socha's wife and other family members have donated money to the campaign of John Stephen, a former prosecutor and Republican nominee for governor. Critics note, however, that Stephen is also supporting a clemency application on behalf of Socha. Says Stephen:
“In 2004, I knew the family, and he had served his time ... I don’t see any problem with accepting a contribution from Ed Socha ... [he] has served his sentence, and since then, he has been an upstanding member the community.”
The sentencing judge in the case also supports Socha’s pardon request saying:
“I will say that of the many offenders who have appeared before me over the years, Mr. Socha is probably one of the most deserving of a pardon ... He was forthright about his conduct and was very ashamed of himself and honestly so.”
On the other hand Democratic candidate John Lynch says supporting a clemency applications is contradictory to the notion of being tough-on-crime (whatever that is!). Lynch also claims that Stephen's support of the application "raises the question whether John Stephen would give pardons to his political donors and friends.” See complete story here

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Hampshire: Denied

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch and the State's Executive Council have denied a pardon hearing for Shayne Pitts, who was convicted in 1991 of killing his pregnant girlfriend. At the time of the murder, Pitts was 18 and on LSD. He received a 40 years-to-life sentence. The victim's mother supported the request, but it was opposed by the State's attorney general, the sentencing judge and state police. See story here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Hampshire: Mother Supports Pardon for Her Daughter's Killer

It is one of the most fascinating, moving stories of forgiveness and mercy that you will ever hear ... or, it is one of the best book-selling gimmicks to come along since Scott McClellan grew a conscience. The Union Leader reports Lylah Rose Goldwater had actually planned on killing Shayne Pitts, but felt like her daughter's voice was telling her not to go through with it. Pitts had murdered Goldwater's 19-year old pregnant daughter, Melody, by shooting her twice in the head and once in the back. But, instead, Goldwater is said to have "reached out" to Pitts and "channeled" her grief into co-authoring a book with him.

Goldwater has also requested that Pitts be pardoned - something one state official calls "a first" in her 22 years of processing applications. Goldwater support clemency because she has learned that her daughter's killer is not a "monster" and that his father "disappeared" and one of his neighbors shot himself. On top of all of that, his mother and stepfather (who abused drugs and alcohol) split up after they both attempted suicide.

Pitts (who received a 40-year sentence) claims he does not remember everything about the day of the murder but does remember that he did not kill Melody "intentionally." He says he did not feel well though, and suspects that someone "slipped" him some drugs. He also says that is was "rough" not telling anyone about the murder for three months. Today, he feels "down" at times.

Meanwhile, Goldwater is searching for a literary agent to plug her book to potential publishers.

Pardons are not flying around in the air of New Hampshire though. Gov. John Lynch (D) and the Executive Council have rejected every request to grant a hearing since 2005. Nine cases are currently pending. According to Union Leader, of 319 requests processed since 1986, only 10 pardons have been granted. And the was in 2003 under Gov. Craig Benson (R). See story Union Leader story here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Hampshire: Request (Maybe)

Kyle Short (37) is demanding restitution and a formal apology from police after serving two months in jail only to see the dismissal of a felony sexual assault charge brought against him. Short says, "There was no evidence to support the child's allegations. I was humiliated in court and my reputation was in jeopardy ... The detective had nothing on me when I was arrested. He dropped all the charges because there was no evidence." Short admits that he was convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault against a person younger than 13 in 1996, but says he is working to obtain a pardon from the governor for that conviction. The Atttorney General's Office (which handles all pardon requests) says, however, that Short had not requested a pardon. The office receives between 15 and 25 pardon requests each year and the last pardon granted was Dec. 22, 2003, by then-Gov. Craig Benson. See story here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Hampshire: Denial

New Hampshire's Executive Council has rejected a request for a pardon hearing from a man who was convicted of murder when he was 15 years old. The Attorney General's Office and the trial judge both opposed the request. Nicholas Heinemann pleaded guilty, in 1990, to second-degree murder and agreed to a 27-year sentence. But he now argues that two adults forced him to commit the crime. The Council has not granted a pardon hearing since Governor John Lynch (D) took office in 2006. See story here

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