Showing posts with label North Carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Carolina. Show all posts

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Where are Obama's Clemency Recipients From?

Top Ten States (and population rank) *

  1. Grants: 126 - Florida (4th)
  2. Grants: 82 - Texas (2nd)
  3. Grants: 52 - Illinois (5th)
  4. Grants: 40 - Virginia (12th)
  5. Grants: 40 - North Carolina (10th)
  6. Grants: 38 - Georgia (8th)
  7. Grants: 29 - Missouri (18th)
  8. Grants: 28 - Tennessee (17th)
  9. Grants: 26 - California (1st)
10. Grants: 25 - South Carolina (24th)

* sixty-five percent of Obama's 743 grants.

Friday, May 20, 2016

North Carolina: (27 Years Later) "Innocent! Sorry."

The Fayetteville Observer reports that Gov. Pat McCrory has pardoned one Edward McInnis who, in 1988, was falsely accused of raping and robbing an 81-year old woman, and spent almost three decades in prison! The Observer notes:
Mumma [McCrory's lawyer] said she was repeatedly told by the Laurinburg Police Department that the evidence for McInnis' case had been destroyed. But Mumma kept pushing the prosecutors and police to look in the evidence inventory. [In] 2014, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state agency that investigates and evaluates post-conviction claims of innocence, took on McInnis' case. The agency [found] evidence that was said to be destroyed in at least 23 cases, [After] the agency took on the case, [police] conducted a thorough search of the evidence room and found DNA samples from McInnis' case, Mumma said. [The] DNA samples were tested and showed that McInnis was not responsible for the crimes. [In] August, the District Attorney's Office for Hoke and Scotland counties filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief based on the newly discovered evidence. On Aug. 11, Superior Court Judge Tanya Wallace ordered McInnis' immediate release, 
McCrory met with McInnis at the Executive Mansion and apologized on behalf of the State. See full story here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

North Carolina: Pardons of Innocence

The governor's office released the following statement today:

“Today, I announce that I am granting pardons of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown. 

“As with all pardons of innocence, both pardon applications for Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown were thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Executive Clemency, my legal team, and the Clemency Committee.

 “Many individuals were contacted and interviewed, and I met personally with Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown.

"It is difficult for anyone to know for certain what happened the night of Sabrina Buie’s murder. My deepest sympathies go out to the family of Sabrina Buie for what they have endured.

 “I know there are differing opinions about this case and who is responsible. This has been a comprehensive and thoughtful process during the past nine months. Based on the available evidence I’ve reviewed, I am granting pardons of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown. It's the right thing to do.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

North Carolina: Wrongly Convicted and Imprisoned? So What!

Wrongful Conviction Compensation
 in California
In 1983, Henry McCollum was 19 years old and Leon Brown was 15. That is when they were both arrested for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Although a judge concluded “no physical evidence, either at the time of their arrest or at any time since, linked Mr. McCollum or Mr. Brown to the scene or the commission of this crime” and the case was based “almost entirely” on confessions that were recanted, both men were convicted. Henry was sentence to death, Leon to life in prison.

Decades later, DNA pointed to one Roscoe Artis, who is serving a life sentence for a 1983 rape in the same community. So, Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown were given $45 apiece and released from prison.  The State of North Carolina offers as much as 750,000 for persons wrongly convicted and imprisoned. But, the Times reports:
Because of the approach lawyers used to secure swifter releases for the two men, neither is entitled to wrongful conviction compensation until he gets a pardon. 
Which is to say, compensation is available for those declared innocent by the governor, but not a judge! A spokesperson says the case is a "top priority" for Governor McCrory. Again, they were released last September! The Times reports:
... Lawyers here say the pardon process in North Carolina has been an enigmatic one for far longer than Mr. McCrory’s term ...What remains unclear is how, exactly, Mr. McCrory’s process unfolds, and how much he considers any opposition to pardon applications. In the cases of Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown, there is some, namely from the retired district attorney who prosecuted them. The prosecutor, Joe Freeman Britt, who came to be known as the nation’s “deadliest D.A.” because he won death sentences so often, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that they’re not entitled to a pardon, and there is no doubt in my mind that they’re not entitled to compensation by the taxpayers.”
The current district attorney says “the state does not have a case” and McCollum and Brown will not be prosecuted again. See full story here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

North Carolina: Pardon for an Innocent Man

WRAL reports Gov. Pat McCrory has pardoned 63-year-old LaMonte Armstrong, who "wrongly spent nearly 17 years in prison for a Greensboro murder after law officers and prosecutors hid key details from defense lawyers." It is reported that the pardon make Armstrong "eligible" to claim compensation under"of up to $750,000" from the State.

Armstrong was convicted in 1995 for the 1988 murder of a one of his former professors. According to WRAL:
A key prosecution witness said police pressured him to accuse Armstrong. A re-tested palm print from the murder scene belonged to another suspect who was later convicted of killing his father and died in a 2010 traffic accident. No fingerprints or other physical evidence at the murder scene pointed to Armstrong, a former teacher and car salesman who was arrested repeatedly after he started using heroin. Police and prosecutors also kept other evidence from defense attorneys, including information about a neighbor who said she saw another man in Compton's neighborhood around the time of the killing wearing bloody Army fatigues, according to a court filing on Armstrong's behalf by the Duke Wrongful Conviction Clinic. 
See story here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

North Carolina: The Scarcity (and Need) for Pardon

From a Reader:

Between 1901 and 1905, North Carolina Governor Charles Brantley Aycock granted no fewer than 369 pardons. But since Governor Jim Hunt left office in 2001, pardons in North Carolina have become ridiculously rare, paralleling a similar drop-off at the federal. A chart compiled by Jeff Welty, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of Government, depicts poignantly the odds faced by those seeking clemency from recent North Carolina governors. Click here.

It is hard to imagine a more deserving applicant than Andrew Junior Chandler, perhaps the last still-imprisoned victim of the multiple-victim, multiple-offender satanic-ritual-abuse day-care panic of the 1980s and early ’90s. The most prominent of these bizarre cases were McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Little Rascals Day Care in Edenton, N.C., but dozens more occurred across the country and even as far away as New Zealand and Germany.

In virtually every instance, charges were exposed as creations of ill-trained interviewers and convictions were overturned. But Junior Chandler, a bus driver in rural Madison County, North Carolina, hasn’t been so fortunate. Convicted in 1987 and victimized at every turn by the judicial system, Chandler now has to hope that Governor Pat McCrory will at last grant him clemency, either by pardon or commutation.

Details on his case can be found at and letters on his behalf can be sent to: Executive Clemency Office 4294 Mail Service Center Raleigh NC 27699-4294

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Johnson v. O. Henry: One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Harry Reid, John McCain, William "Mo" Cowan and Rep. Peter King are back at it again. Today, they have called on the President to pardon the late boxing champion Jack Johnson.

Reid argues Johnson was a "legendary competitor who defined an era of American boxing and raised the bar for all American athletics." McCain says the pardon would be a way of "celebrating [Johnson's] legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance.” Cowan says Johnson was "one of the great African-American athletes." King says Johnson was a "trailblazer and a legend."

But, more than all that, the members of Congress argue Johnson was "unjustly tarnished by a racially-motivated criminal conviction" and a posthumous pardon would be a "small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law." In addition to being the victim of "racial persecution," Jackson was convicted via "unjust laws."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Update: O. Henry Pardon Application

Background: On September 11th of last year, Scott Hensen (of Grits for Breakfast) and the Editor of this blog (P.S. Ruckman, Jr.) filed an application with the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Department of Justice) on behalf of the great American writer O.Henry (see application here). The basis of the request for posthumous pardon was spelled out with meticulously detail and, in addition, we researched clemency grants in the aftermath of O.Henry's offense so as to get a sense of how likely a pardon would have been granted had he ever personally applied for one (see "Reasons for Pardon" here). Within a few days, the U.S. Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers, responded to our application (see his response here). 

Update: The Editor of this blog (P.S. Ruckman, Jr.) has written a letter of complaint to President Obama. An additional copy of the complaint was sent to U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). The letter holds that the Pardon Attorney's response falls far short of the high standard of excellence one would expect from an employee of the Department of Justice. At best, it demonstrates an inability to comprehend the content of the application. At worst, it intentionally mischaracterizes the content of the application to reach a preordained conclusion. Either way, it is the Editor's very strong sense that the application was not given the kind of serious, respectful consideration that any application for clemency deserves. Readers are certainly invited to agree, or disagree. See the full letter of complaint here.

Monday, December 31, 2012

North Carolina: 10 Pardons

The Associated Press reports the "outgoing" Governor (Beverly Perdue) has:
issued pardons [to] the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted 40 years ago in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution that led to accusations that the state was holding political prisoners. Perdue issued pardons of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one white woman who were given prison sentences totaling nearly 300 years for the 1971 firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store after police shot a black teenager. The pardon means the state no longer thinks the 10 — four of whom have since died — committed a crime. 
The Governor says she was "appalled" by the "manner in which their convictions were obtained." In 1978, Jim Hunt granted commutations of sentence, but not pardons. Then, a Circuit Court of Appeals "threw out" convictions on the basis of "perjury and prosecutorial misconduct." See full story here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

O. Henry Pardon Application Materials

On the right side bar, near the top of this blog, readers can now view the application materials for the posthumous pardon of O. Henry. Among the items are:

1. The Application (.pdf file) The official clemency application form used by the Department of Justice, completed and filed this past September 11.

2. Attachment - The Offense (.doc file) A statement summarizing O. Henry's offense and the circumstances surrounding the case.

3. Attachment - Reasons  (.doc file) A list of nine separate and distinct reasons for O. Henry's pardon featuring classic justifications for clemency routinely referenced in clemency warrants in O. Henry's day and throughout U.S. history. 

4. Letter to the OPA (.doc file) The cover letter that was sent to the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Department of Justice) along with the application materials submitted in September.

5. Reponse from OPA (.pdf file) The response that the U.S. Pardon Attorney sent within days of receiving the application materials which, oddly enough, references this blog!

We especially encourage readers to view items 3 and 5, so as to get an sense of how flippantly the application was rejected and how poorly the U.S. Pardon Attorney understood its content - to the extent that he even tried. This speaks volumes about what is going on in that office. This story is far from over however. Stay tuned !

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OPA Says 'No Way' to O.Henry Pardon

The Office of the Pardon Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, has declined to consider an application for the posthumous pardon of William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) sponsored by the Editor of this blog and Scott Henson (Editor of the Grits for Breakfast blog). The application was sent to the Office via overnight mail on September 11 and the response was dated September 20 (after only seven working days).

While we are not particularly surprised at this response / outcome, we certainly did not expect it to emerge quite so swiftly. To the Office's general credit, the letter did make an attempt to explain the logic behind the decision. Of course, we reject that logic as being largely unsound, but appreciate the effort at transparency nonetheless.

Sign the online petition for the President to pardon O. Henry here.

Much, much, more on this story to follow ...

Update: Big shout out to whoever posted this to their Facebook account and brought over so many viewers and "likes." Really appreciate it, who ever you are :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

O. Henry Application: A Worthy Exception

Today, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the birth of William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. O. Henry. This morning Scott Henson (Editor, Grits for Breakfast) and I mailed a formal application for a posthumous pardon to the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA), Department of Justice (DOJ).

The web page of that Office notes that it is the "general" policy of the Department of Justice "not to accept for processing applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions." As a result, we have simply requested that the OPA consider the merits of the several arguments in our application, and grant it the status of "exception."

It is also noteworthy that the OPA explains its "general" policy is based on the belief that:
Many posthumous pardon requests would likely be based on a claim of manifest injustice, and given that decades have passed since the commission of the offense and the historical record would have to be scoured objectively and comprehensively to investigate such claims, it is the Department’s position that the limited resources available to process applications for Presidential pardon are best dedicated to applications submitted by living persons who can truly benefit from a grant of clemency.
This is noteworthy because the application we have filed on behalf of William Porter does NOT base a claim on much of anything that is debatable, or that would requires the scouring of historical records, or a comprehensive investigation. Our application is based on considerations well-known and, frankly, beyond dispute -  William Porter’s rehabilitation, and post-prison life as a well-respected, law-abiding citizen. One need only reference the fact that President Obama actually quoted O. Henry while granting pardons to Thanksgiving turkeys last year.

Sign the online Pardon O. Henry petition here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pardon for O. Henry: Prelude

On November 23, 2011, President Barack Obama granted “pardons” to two turkeys named “peace” and “liberty.” The ceremony was part of a widely covered Thanksgiving ritual that has been faithfully carried on by presidents for some time.

While doing so, the President noted that Thanksgiving is “the one day that is ours … the one day that is truly American.” With some irony, in making this observation, the President quoted a convicted felon, one William Sydney Porter.

But Mr. Porter was certainly no average convicted felon.

Though some doubted his actual guilt, he served just over three years in a federal penitentiary in the late 1800s. He then emerged to become one of the most famous, and most loved, American authors. The world came to know Mr. Porter as a prolific writer of marvelous short stories. But they also came to know him as “O. Henry” - a man talented enough to admire, a citizen respectable enough to be quoted by a modern-day president of the United States during a high-profile public relations gig.

Petitioners on behalf of Mr. Porter (Scott Henson and P.S. Ruckman, Jr.) request that the President of the United States grant a posthumous presidential pardon ...

Sign the petition HERE !

Saturday, September 1, 2012

IV. O. Henry: The American Writer

William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) left prison on July 24, 1901. While he was there, he published (with submission assistance from a friend in New Orleans) fourteen short stories which are considered among his greatest (including Whislting Dick’s Christmas Stocking, Money Maze and George’s Ruling).

He immediately traveled to Pittsburgh to reunite with his daughter. In April of 1902, he moved to New York City. From his room at the Hotel Marty, he impressed the editors of Ainslee’s Magazine 1902. Contracts would soon follow from McClure’s and New York’s Sunday World. By 1904, he was living on a handsome salary, for a writer, and publishing at a fantastic rate.

After his death, in 1910, one author notes O. Henry had been “the most popular short story writer in America” for some time. By 1916, he had passed “beyond the status of a one-nation writer with his rapid development into a best-seller in England.” Another author notes O. Henry’s popularity was “established” and his fame “assured.” O. Henry had become “the American writer.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Case of Janet Danahey

WFMY News has an interesting story on the case of Janet Danahey. It begins ten years ago, when 23-old Janet Danahey pulled a Valentine's Day"prank" that ended with an apartment building burning to the ground and the deaths of four people. Danahey confessed to her role int the fire and was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Now two Greensboro attorneys have filed a clemency petition on behalf of Janet Danahey. They are asking for a commutation of sentence to a specific number of years which, in turn, will make Danahey eligible for parole at some point in time. It is said that they have been "planning to request clemency for three years." See story here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

III. O.Henry: Prisoner No. 30664

William Sydney Porter stepped into the federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio on April 25, 1898. He was thirty-five years of age and signed in as a newspaper reporter and pharmacist. He soon confided in others that his hope for a favorable appellate court decision made prison life tolerable. One author suggests Porter "lived in constant expectation of a pardon"(S, 154).

Chief physician John M. Thomas said, looking back over his experience with over ten thousand prisoners, he had never known a man "who was so deeply humiliated by this imprisonment." As a result, said Thomas, Porter's record was "clear in every respect." Indeed, there was not a single demerit against him (S, 147). Thomas said of Porter, He was a "model prisoner, willing, obedient, faithful" (O, 66)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I. O.Henry: The Early Years

The following is the first part of a series of posts on William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), informing readers of O'Henry's life, accomplishments and federal conviction. Readers are encouraged to join the PardonPower blog and GritsforBreakfast in our effort to secure a presidential pardon for this Great American writer. Sign our petition here!

William Sydney Porter  was born on September 11, 1862, at  "Worth Place," a plantation in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. “Will” was named after his mother’s father, William Swaim (a journalist), and his father’s father, Sidney Porter. Will’s mother, Mary Jane, was a college graduate. His father, Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter, qualified for the medical profession by clerking in a drugstore. But, eventually, Dr. Porter was known as a leading physician in his county (O, 6).

With the exception of Will’s imagination, wit and humorous pen and pencil sketches, there is little about his childhood that translates into storybook idealism. His mother died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty. Her own mother had died from the same malady and, throughout his teens, Will was notable for his hacking cough. Many did not think he would live long himself (O, 14).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

North Carolina: Race and the Robinson Commutation

J.F., at The Economist, has a piece on the commutation of sentence that was granted to Marcus Robinson. Robinson and another abducted a 17-year-old high-school student, forced him to drive to an open field where they shot him in the face with a sawed-off shotgun and robbed him of $27.

J.F. says the commutation was about "a long and shameful legacy of racial bias among prosecutors in North Carolina."  For example, professors at Michigan State's law school studied jury selection and composition in North Carolina between 1990 and 2010 for trials of all defendants on death row. They found:

- prosecutors at all levels struck 52.6% of black potential jurors, and 25.8% of all other potential jurors

- in cases involving black defendants, the average strike rate rose to 60% for black potential jurors and 23.1% for everyone else.

Such disparities were also found "in the county, prosecutorial district and judicial division in which Mr Robinson was sentenced, as well as in his own trial." See full story here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

North Carolina: Extensive Top Secret Investigation

NBC 17 (Durham) reports Erick Daniels was sent to prison for robbery when he was fourteen years old. Seven years later, Judge Orlando Hudson dismissed the charges against him because 1) Daniels had ineffective legal representation 2) prosecutors withheld evidence and 3) the police used a "flawed" photo lineup.

But in order to receive compensation for seven lost years, Daniels has to get a pardon, something Governor Bev Perdue does not seem anxious to grant. Indeed, a letter from Perdue's office says an "extensive investigation" had been performed, but it "failed to definitively establish Mr. Daniels' actual innocence." (Readers are invited to read the previous sentence several times over). The letter also notes that, due to "confidentiality concerns," the "details" of the investigation could not be shared. See story here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

North Carolina: An Utter Disgrace

North Carolina is a State where innocent people are thrown into jail and their lives are destroyed, without so much as an apology, much less compensation. But, it is also a State where the legislative branch has no problem trivializing the most serious issues of justice via the pardon of persons long since dead, who never sought clemency when they were alive. Yes, this is state that has it together.

By a unanimous vote, the State's senate has granted an unrequested and undesired pardon to former Governor William Woods Holden, a strong supporter of secession (you know the thing that led this Nation into its most bloody war) and is reported to have also "opposed rights for blacks." But, as it became apparent that the South would actually be losing the war, Holden found the courage to change his convictions and began cheering for the Radical Republicans (who did so many great things for the South, and the Country as a whole).

Holden's glamorous resume does not end there. He declared "martial law" in two counties and sent in militia to arrest a 100 people - some, who simply made the mistake of being his political and personal enemies. Holden then suspended habeas corpus, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. When the formal opinion of a state judge warned him to cease and desist, Holden simply ignored the ruling. When a federal judge agreed, Holden grudgingly released his prisoners. It was a sad day, as Holden had actually planned to have them all tried in military courts. Yep, here we have the makings of the next Robert Redford movie!

To be fair, it is said that Holden "fought" the KKK, and that the KKK hated him. If these are not the ultimate redeeming values, then what are? See story here.

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