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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pardons, Pot and a Presidential Hopeful

It is reported that Republicans presidential candidate Gary Johnson has told reporters today that:
he would consider issue “a full presidential pardon” for every non-violent marijuana convicted under current drug laws if elected. 
The libertarian former governor of New Mexico has acknowledged using marijuana and compares the prohibition on marijuana the prohibition of alcohol:
Yes. … After prohibition of alcohol was repealed, one of the untold stories was of all the pardons that went out to all those people who had been convicted or were serving jail sentences for trading in alcohol. I think that same phenomenon accompanies legalizing marijuana and what I call rational drug policy, which starts with looking at the drug problem or the drug issue first as a health issue rather a criminal justice issue.
It is noteworthy, however, that most offenders are convicted under state drug laws, and cannot be pardoned by the president.

The story follows on the heels of a new Gallup poll showing a full 50 percent of Americans now support marijuana legalization. Other polling agencies (CNN and Pew) havehad similar results in recent polls. Support can be as high as 62 percent among Americans under 30 years old. See story here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Mexico: The Rot Beneath the Stench

Forbes is featuring a nifty story which explains that while Governor Bill Richardson (D) was grandstanding his "consideration" of a pardon for the long-dead murderer Billy "the Kid," he was degrading clemency powers on other - less noticeable - fronts.

The article focuses on Edward M. Gilbert, the “Boy Wonder Of Wall Street,” who was once admired for a "hostile takeover of hardwood flooring maker E.L. Bruce Co."  In 1962, however, Gilbert took $2 million in cash and fled to Brazil. After pleading guilty to fraud, he served a 2-year prison sentence. In 1981, he was convicted of "stock manipulation" and served a second sentence (of 21 months). 

Gilbert moved to New Mexico and "built another fortune" selling "limited partnerships in commercial real estate deals." When real estate values "took off," his returns were "magnified" and he became "one of the country’s largest such operations" and "cashed out." 

Gilbert eventually became "quite the philanthropist, supporting numerous local nonprofit organizations" and a supporter of Bill Richardson. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Gilbert's BGK Group "or people associated with it" contributed $50,000 to Richardson’s gubernatorial race in 2002 and $39,000 to his 2008 presidential run. The New Mexico Business Weekly says Gilbert also hosted a fundraiser for Richardson.

Forbes reports that, "as it turns out, a few months [before] Richardson [left office, he] quietly granted executive clemency to the 88-year-old Gilbert. Says Forbes:
Richardson openly courted publicity for his consideration of the Billy The Kid matter; indeed, he made the announcement denying relief on national television his very last day in office. But the now-looking-for-a-job politician was far more circumspect about his Gilbert move. Richardson signed the papers on August 6. But the news only got out four months later-the same week as the Billy The Kid non-pardon-thanks to pressure from journalists who had filed freedom of information act requests for pardon records.
See entire Forbes story here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010

Here, in our humble opinion are the Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010. Each item is also linked. Simply click on the associated number. Oh, and by the way, sorry, no Billy the Kid nonsense here:

Number 10: The Mighty Quinn - When former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was run out of office, he left a stack of literally thousands of clemency applications behind, some dating back more than a decade. His replacement, Pat Quinn (D) promised to address the applications as best as he could, in a more timely fashion. In his mind, timely attention is implicit in the very notion of a just application process. Quinn kept his word.

New Mexico: Kid Dead. Pardon Idea Should Follow Suit

The Washington Times notes Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has "just a few days left in his second and final four-year term in office, and will spend some of it deciding whether to grant a petition to pardon Billy the Kid."

Margaret Colgate Love says the stunt "demonstrates a kind of trivialization of the pardon power" and "doesn't bear any relationship to the needs of real people in the criminal justice system" that Richardson "should be addressing." She also notes that, in the only two cases of federal pardons for dead persons (Henry Flipper and Charlie Winters), both were proven to be reputable citizens - a category that no sober person has ever placed Billy the Kid in. Finally, Ms. Love asserts that, if Gov. Richardson "had spent even a quarter of the time addressing the real-life difficulties of the citizens of his state ... as he has on this silly publicity stunt, his state would be a lot better off."

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. (the Editor of this blog) calls the potential pardon "wildly inappropriate" and wishes Richardson would choose some other constitutional power to denigrate, like a "proclamation" or executive order. "Pardons," he says "should be for living people." Ruckman also asks, if this really such a pressing issue of justice, why didn't Richardson grant the pardon years and years ago? Why has he had it on the plate all of this time, but has chosen his final days in office as the decision making period?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

New Mexico: Richardson, A First Class Dunce

What has Gov. Bill Richardson (D) " considered" for "the last eight years?" What "documentation" has he been pouring over? What is his dilemma? Believe it or not: it is whether or not it is a good idea to grant a pardon ... to a fugitive from justice who murdered two officers of the law ... over one hundred years ago !!! Mandatory minimums? Disparate sentences? Overly harsh laws? Battered spouses? Over-zealous prosecutors? Erroneous convictions? Rehabilitation? Restoration of civil rights?

Nonsense. Mere child's play! Richardson is more about making the really tough issues, in matters most relevant to justice and welfare of the citizens of his state ... just before he leaves office!

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

New Mexico: Little Energy for Anything But the Dead Kid

According to this report, Gov. Bill Richardson, while all about making publicity hay out of a potential pardon for the long dead gunslinger Billy the Kid, has been "dragging his feet" when it comes to informing the public about anything else related to clemency in his state. Requests for information "dating back to last month" will "take some time," but his office "is working on it." Peter St. Cyr, a freelance journalist, and The New Mexican asked about clemency applicants last month, but have been told that their requests "are too broad or burdensome."

According to the report, the state has "released information about people who were pardoned or had their sentences commuted" in the past. So, according to The Albuquerque Tribune Richardson pardoned 11 people and commuted 1 sentence in 2004. In 2005, he pardoned 28 people. His predecessor, Gary Johnson, averaged 14 and 18 pardons a year across two terms respectively.

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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Magnificent Display of Misplaced Priorities

Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic has a super fantastic piece which begins with the observation that, "One of the most damning character indictments of recent presidents is the cowardly, borderline corrupt way they've misused the pardon power." Friedersdorf notes, "many people deserving an executive reprieve are left to rot in prison" and the "odds of being shown mercy is incalculably higher if you happen to be a personal, political or ideological ally of the president." Obama has "so far been a failure too."

But Friedersdorf believes the "perfect illustration of misplaced priorities" is the attention that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) is giving to a possible pardon for the long dead outlaw Billy "the Kid." Why spend the same effort determining "the identities of the inevitable innocents incarcerated" or showing mercy to those who have been "imprisoned for years on end despite only having violated drug possession laws"? Friedersdorf  "cannot fathom" how a governor "could be so frivolous and lacking in judgment to spend the last hours of his administration wringing his hands over a long dead man whose guilt isn't in question."

Bravo! Bravo!

See, and comment, on this wonderful piece here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

L.A. Times: An Embarrassing Lack of Focus

While President Obama displays record setting neglect of the pardon power and Jan Brewer is ignoring the unanimous recommendations of her own State's clemency board, the Los Angeles Times is wasting massive editorial space on a possible posthumous pardon for Billy the Kid. It is no wonder that many people find the pardon power an waste of time! Marc Lee Gardner writes:
Just what would a pardon for Billy the Kid mean? It can no longer help the Kid, of course, whose body lies buried beneath a stark metal cage at Ft. Sumner. Richardson would certainly make headlines, but after that would Billy lose some of his outlaw mystique? Would Garrett's obsession be made ridiculous? Would the two deputies killed during Billy's sensational daylight jailbreak have died in vain? ... regardless of Billy's crimes, the motives of Richardson or the hollowness of posthumous justice, it all comes back to Wallace's promise. A deal is a deal, and 129 years doesn't change that. Billy is owed a pardon.
We agree that a pardon for the long dead Billy the Kid would be be a senseless "hollow" publicity gimmick that would truly benefit no one and only add a further measure of un-needed ill-repute for a very serious gubernatorial power. On the other hand, we do see one beneficiary that Gardner has somehow over looked in his searing analysis. You see Marc Lee Gardner is the author of a new book on Billy the Kid, that just came out earlier this year. See full story here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Mexico: "Ban the Box"

Remember those great-looking Boy Scout Calendars from back in the day? With the classic Norman Rockwell paintings? All-American stuff! Couldn't get more American than that. What you might not know is that the company in St. Paul Minnesota that published those calendars was quite an operation itself.

Hubert Huse Bigelow was the CEO of Brown and Bigelow and enjoyed a measure of fame for his meticulous management style and his tendency to wear unnecessarily "cheap" suites. When the Sixteenth Amendment created the federal income tax, Bigelow simply ignored the law and became the first target of government prosecutors. He was thus convicted on June 24, 1924, fined ten thousand dollars and sentenced to two years in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Of course, prison life was not exactly Bigelow's gig. A guy like him needed "protection." That "protection" eventually came in the form of a new cellmate, one Charles Allen Ward, who was already four years into a ten-year sentence for violating the Harrison Anti-Narcotics Act. Ward was released on parole in 1925 and, when Calvin Coolidge pardoned Bigelow in 1928, Bigelow showed his gratitude and made his former cell-mate operating manager, then Vice-President, of Brown and Bigelow. He and Ward then proceeded, as a matter of company "policy," to hire hundreds of ex-convicts to produce those darling Boy Scout Calenders, playing cards and this and that. Franklin Roosevelt granted Ward a pardon in 1935 and Ward ran the company after Bigelow's death, until 1959. Bigelow and Ward, the former cell mates, both died as millionaires.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Mexico: Sentencing Reconsideration to Negate Need for Clemency?

PardonPower has reported on the case of Elton John Richard since late February. Richard plead no contest to manslaughter for shooting and killing one Daniel Romero in 2004 and was sentenced to two years in prison. Romero was allegedly caught breaking into Richard's car. By February 26, Governor Bill Richardson's office was being bombarded with e-mails calling for executive clemency (Richard is a former Marine and Iraq war veteran - see post here). Three days later, the Governor publicly called on Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch to reconsider the sentence (see post here). Now, at last, the judge is set to hear such a motion. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the governor's office said: "Governor Richardson continues to follow this case closely and is pleased the judge has agreed to reconsider Mr. Richard's sentence." The district attorney has also declared that she does not oppose a reconsidering of the sentence. See story here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

New Mexico: Rejection

Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has rejected a pardon request from one Jimmie Rae Gordon Jr., who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for 11 counts of fraud over $2,500 and four counts of being an unlicensed broker who sold unregistered securities and made fraudulent offers to sell securities. The request was denied because of "strong opposition" by victims of the fraud and after "carefully considering Mr. Gordon's conduct while in prison." See story here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

New Mexico: Request (Update)

The judge who sentenced a decorated Marine and Iraq veteran to two years in prison and four years of probation says he will not reconsider the sentence, despite a recent request by Governor Bill Richardson (D) that he do so. Elton John Richard pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in January after initially being charged with murder. He fatally shot a would-be burglar after chasing him several blocks. District Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch says that he expects Richard’s attorney to apply for executive clemency sometime next week. A spokesman for Richardson says the Governor is "prepared to consider executive clemency for Elton John Richard. However, he has not received [a] formal request from the family or Richard’s attorney.” Sen. Pete Domenici (R) has also called for a full pardon saying, "I do not condone all of his actions, but I've come to believe that sending him to prison would be unjust." Details here and here.

New Mexico: Request (Update)

Gov. Bill Richardson is urging a state district judge to re-evaluate the sentence of a decorated Marine and Iraq war veteran, Elton John Richard, who shot and killed a would-be burglar. Richardson's office has described Richard's two-year sentence as harsh. In addition, Judge Pat Murdoch ordered Richard to pay restitution of $500 a month for four years. If the sentence is not reconsidered, Governor Richardson says that he is willing to consider a request for executive clemency. Other details here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Mexico: Request

Gov. Bill Richardson is being urged by to pardon Elton John Richard a former Marine and Iraq war veteran who was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading no contest to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the 2004. Richard killed one Daniel Romero, a car burglary suspect. According to reports, Richardson's office received around one hundred phone calls and e-mail messages last weekend urging the governor to Richards out of prison. The governor’s office says the governor is aware of the case, but he cannot act until the family asks him to. See story here and here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Mexico: Pardon for Billy the Kid?

Today, Fox News reminds us that an individual who claims to be the great-grandson of the legendary Billy the Kid (a.k.a. William H. Bonney, Henry McCarty or Kid Antrim) has been trying for years to get his long-dead ancestor a pardon. Of course, the Kid was convicted in 1881 for the murder of Sheriff William Brady, but broke out of jail before the hangman could get to him. Bert Garcia (who says he is related) spoke to Gov. Bill Richardson about the matter of clemency personally and Richardson agreed to consider it. Read about it here and even more about it here.

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