Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ohio: Four Years of Legislative and Judicial Perfection

There is, apparently little need for traditional notion of checks and balances in Ohio as the Columbus Dispatch is reporting on the "sparing" use of clemency by Gov. John Kasich. According to the dispatch, in 2015, Kasich 2 of 244 requests he "considered." Both pardons:
... were for old crimes: a burglary case from 1954 and a prostitution conviction from 1965, both from Cuyahoga County. 
Consequently, Kasich has "signed off on less than 1 percent of clemency requests, below the 4.4 percent rate during his first four years in office." The Dispatch says his "use of the power" is "the most conservative of any governor of either party in the past three decades."

A "spokesman" says there not need for concern. It is all about "timing." Some pardons "will show up in 2016’s numbers." Brilliant.

The Dispatch reports:
Ted Strickland, a Democrat, approved 20 percent of 1,615 clemency requests he handled between 2007 and 2011, many of them near the end of his administration ... Republicans George V. Voinovich (1991-98) and Bob Taft (1999-2007) each approved less than 10 percent of the clemency requests he received. James A. Rhodes, a Republican, approved 17.5 percent of clemencies in 1982, his last year in office. Democrat Richard F. Celeste, governor from 1983 to 1991, touched off a legal battle in the waning days of his term when he commuted the death sentences of eight men on Death Row and granted clemency to 25 female prisoners because they were victims of “battered-woman syndrome.”
See full article here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Federal Judge: Consider Clemency

A favorite tune of the unlearned is to suggest that clemency decisions "overturn the decisions of judges and juries." Would that such persons read this story in the The Blade.  Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a federal appeals court judge (U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati), and two of his colleagues recently considered the case of Gregory Esparza.

Esparza, in 1983, committed robbery and killed an East Toledo carryout clerk and got away with $110. He was 21 years old at the time. Esparza confessed to his sister and an inmate and was sentenced to death. On appeal, however, he argued that his defense "failed to offer enough evidence of his troubled childhood to persuade the jury to spare him the death penalty." The Blade reports, "The appeals court found his arguments unconvincing."

Judge Sutton, however, noted that the governor might give a “serious look” at granting Esparza clemency - presumably a commutation of sentence, from death, to life in prison:
“Today’s decision is not necessarily the end of the road for Esparza ... Among other things, he has the right to file a clemency application with the governor to reduce his sentence from death to life in prison. In light of the many uninvited difficulties in his childhood, this application may be worth a serious look.” 
In doing so, Sutton recognized what many fail to understand. Clemency powers were created, in part, so that the state might consider factors which the law may have ignored, or overlooked. The rules of evidence are, sometimes, strict. The direction of trials can be manipulated by lawyers desirous of victory. The net effect: trials are not - and never have been - perfect. Thus, the failure to utilize clemency powers is an assertion of what we all know to be false: judges, juries, trial processes are not perfect. They do not always consider all of the relevant facts. Even when they accurately follow the nuances of the rules, the big picture - justice - can be lost.

At common law, murder was murder. There were no distinctions (first degree, second, manslaughter, etc.) Nor were considerations given for juvenile offenders, or the insane. These considerations and exceptions were taken in to consideration by - and eventually developed into law via - the pardon power. The law may have considered the nine year old who accidentally pushed a sibling off of a stair case a "murderer," but an executive with the power to pardon (and a more keen sense of justice) knew better - as do you and I.

Today, the pardon power continues to provide these services, where executives care to use it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ohio: Commutation of Death Sentence

Gov. John Kasich
The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich has "sided with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, and against the unanimous Ohio Parole Board" by commuting 54 year old Arthur Tyler’s death sentence, the consequence of a 1983 murder. Said Kasich:
“The questions that continue around this case are fundamental, and the irregularities in the court proceedings are troubling. Arthur Tyler’s crime against Sander Leach and his family was heinous and this commutation in no way diminishes that, and I pray that Mr. Leach’s family can find peace and healing.” 
The State's Board has previously cited "serious doubts about the evidence in the case" and recommended that the sentence be commuted and that Tyler would be made eligible for parole. The Governor, however, commuted the sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Tyler’s lawyer said he was "extremely disappointed" at the governor’s decision to not agree with the unanimous recommendation for parole eligibility for Arthur.” See story here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ohio: Clemency Record of Gov. Kasich

The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich has :remained consistent in flexing his clemency powers in his third year in office" meaning that he has acted "conservatively" in most cases and with "unusual consideration" in one death-penalty case. According to the Dispatch Kasich "disposed" of 391 clemency requests and, along the way, granted clemency in 22 instances - or 5.6 percent of the cases. Although he "allowed" four executions, he made an "unprecedented decision" to postpone a fifth case seven months so the prisoner's "nonvital organs could be harvested for transplanting as he requested."

The clemency process, in Ohio, is described as follows:
Ohio governors have nearly unlimited executive-clemency power, enabling them to stop or postpone executions, commute or reduce sentences, and grant pardons. The only requirement is that the Ohio Parole Board must have first made a recommendation in each case. 
Kasich's overall record is described as follows:
All 22 of the clemencies Kasich approved were pardons in old cases, some going back as far as the 1970s and 1980s. Pardons allow individuals to clear their criminal record. In his first two years as governor, he approved 29 of 640 cases he decided, less than 5 percent. Former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, approved 20 percent of 1,615 clemency requests he handled between 2007 and 2011. Most involved low-level, nonviolent offenses, as well as five death-penalty commutations. Former governors George V. Voinovich, who served from 1991-98, and Bob Taft, 1999 to 2007, each approved less than 10 percent of the clemency requests they received. James A. Rhodes approved clemency in 56 of 320 cases, or 17.5 percent, in 1982, his last full year in office. All three governors were Republicans. Only Kasich, Strickland and Taft faced life-or-death decisions as governor. No capital cases made it to the desks of Rhodes, Richard F. Celeste and Voinovich. 
See full story here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ohio: Head Start Molestation Case

The Chronicle-Telegram reports that Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will will not oppose efforts to obtain a commutation of sentence for Nancy Smith - charged in a controversial Head Start child molestation case.  On the other hand, he will not support any effort to obtain a full pardon. Both Smith and her co-defendant, maintain their innocence, though Smith was sentenced to 30 to 90 years in prison.

Smith was freed because of a technical flaw in the court orders sentencing her when a county Common Pleas Judge acquitted her. The judge said, “I have absolutely no confidence that these verdicts are correct.” But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the judge had overstepped his authority.

The Chronicle-Telegram reports Smith’s attorneys asked Ohio Gov. John Kasich for clemency earlier this year, "pointing to flaws in the police investigation and statements from co-workers who insist Smith couldn’t have committed the crimes she was convicted of." See full story here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Florida: Harry Davis Pardoned

Harry Davis recently stood before a three member panel and pleased for clemency. Davis told the panel that he needed a pardon in order to pass background checks to do volunteer work with children and to obtain a massage therapist license.

The 56-year-old Davis was a former basketball with Florida State 1974-8) and a second-round draft choice of the Cleveland Cavaliers (1978-9). But, in 1987 he was tagged with a cocaine trafficking conviction while vacationing in West Palm Beach. Davis then served a one-year sentence in the Palm Beach County stockade.

Now Gov. Rick Scott and the three-member Florida Cabinet have unanimously granted Davis a conditional pardon. If he is arrested again on drug charges, the pardon will be voided. It is reported that Davis will also try to get the conviction expunged.

PardonPower says "congratulations" and best of luck to Harry Davis! Go 'Noles! See more on this story here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ohio: Commutation of Sentence

WYTV 33 reports Governor John R. Kasich has "commuted the death sentence of John Jeffrey Eley to life in prison without the possibility of parole." It is also reported that the "the prosecutor who pushed for a death sentence and a judge who handed it down" both opposed the execution. The 63-year old Eley was charged in relation to a 1986 shooting in Youngstown.

Gov. Kasich issued the following statement today:
"The murder of Ihsan Aydah was a heinous act that warrants severe punishment. In participating in the murder, John Jeffrey Eley, who has limited mental capacity, acted under the direction of another man who was later acquitted. Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime. Additionally, the former Mahoning County prosecutor who tried Eley's case now regrets the way the case was handled and its outcome, and has called for clemency. The combined weight of these facts leads me to commute Eley's sentence to life in prison without parole ... Murder, under any circumstance, is an atrocious act and this decision in no way diminishes that or the actions of Eley. I pray that the family and friends of Ihsan Aydah can find peace." 
See full story here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

II. O.Henry: Trial and Conviction

In Mid-December 1894, there were signs that there were complications with William Porter's accounts at the First National Bank (Austin). That is also when he "suddenly" resigned from his position as teller. In the background, it was rumored / known that his humor weekly, The Rolling Stone, was struggling financially, and that, on occasion, Porter was prone to gamble.

F.B. Gray, the federal bank examiner, insisted on prosecution over the initial protests of Robert U. Culberson, the U.S. Attorney in Austin, who insisted that, at most, Porter may have made a "series of mistakes" without any criminal intent (O, 46, 47).  Officers of First National, including the Vice President, also let it be known that they did not believe Porter had committed any crime (O,47). So, while Gray did appear before a grand jury, in July of 1895, and dramatically accused William S. Porter of embezzlement from bank funds, the members of the grand jury didn't buy it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ohio: Kasich and the Pardon Power

The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich "has used his executive clemency power moderately during his 16 months in office, sparing the lives of two convicted killers (Shawn Hawkins and Joseph Murphy) but approving only 5 percent of 412 requests" (with 278 others waiting). On the other hand, the report says, he has "done far better than his predecessor, Ted Strickland, in keeping up with clemency requests." According to the report:
Strickland made no decisions for nearly three years in office and rushed to complete hundreds of cases in his last few months as governor. 
Records show he has approved pardons "in 14 older, less-serious cases for former prisoners who wanted to clear their criminal records for employment or education purposes." A spokesman (oh Lordy!) says Kasich sees clemency as:
being “about giving some deserving people a second chance. ... He looks at what’s the right thing to do in every case. “There are some people whose closest friends aren’t aware of their records because they’ve dramatically turned their lives around and made something good out of it.” 
According to the Dispatch, Kasich’s 5 percent approval record compares with Strickland's roughly 20 percent (of 1,615 cases between 2005 to 2010). Former Gov. Richard F. Celeste, a Democrat, granted 67 clemencies just before leaving office in 1991. Former Govs. Bob Taft and George V. Voinovich each approved less than 10 percent of the clemency requests they received. James A. Rhodes approved clemency in 56 of 320 cases, 17.5 percent, in 1982, his last full year in office. All three were Republicans. See story here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2011

10. The West Memphis Three - The Three served almost 18 years before a plea deal allowed for their release. But, Governor Mike Beebe - one of the Nation's most steady dispensers of gubernatorial clemency - announced that he had no intention of granting a pardon. And he will only grant a pardon if there is "compelling evidence" that "someone else was responsible" for the murders the men were accused of.

9. 100,000 Application Backlog in Florida - The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a group which aims to have the State's Board of Executive Clemency "simplify" (and speed up) the application process estimates a backlog of 100,000 applications!

8. December Clemency - A study published by the author of this blog, in White House Studies, shows that 1 of every 2 pardons and commutations of sentence granted over the last 39 years has been granted in a single month: December.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ohio: Commutation of Death Sentence

The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich has commuted the death sentence of 46-year old Joseph Murphy to life in prison with no chance of parole. Says Kasich:
“After examining this case in detail with counsel I agree with Chief Justice Moyer, the National Association of Mental Illness and the Parole Board’s unanimous 8-0 decision that considering Joseph Murphy’s brutally abusive upbringing and the relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case. Thus, I have commuted his sentence to life in prison with no chance for parole. I pray for peace for all who have been impacted by this crime.”
Last week, the State's Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend clemency. The board was also influenced by the fact that the sentencing option of life without the possibility of parole was not available when Murphy was convicted. A county prosecutor and the State's Attorney General opposed clemency. See story here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ohio: Recommendation for Clemency

The Ohio Parole Board has unanimously recommended that the death sentence of 46-year old Joseph Murphy be commuted to life in prison. Murphy, who is "borderline mentally retarded," is scheduled to be executed on October 18, for 1987 murder of a 72-year old widow. The board's decision was based on what it described as Murphy’s “deprived history" and “chronic and consistent" abuse from his own family. The Board found "no evidence of consistent or meaningful love or support" shown to Murphy as he drifted in and out of mental hospitals. Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Herbert Brown urged the board to grant clemency. See story here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ohio: Commutation of Sentence

Gov. John Kasich has commuted the sentence of Kelley Williams-Bolar, who was convicted on felony charges for falsifying information in order to send her children to Copley-Fairlawn City Schools instead of Akron City Schools. Kasich reduced the convictions to misdemeanors because, in his view, the penalty was "excessive." The decision follows a unanimous recommendation by the State's Parole Board to deny the 41-year old Williams-Bolar clemency. See story here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ohio: Saved From Execution!

Ohio Gov. John Kasich granted clemency today to 42-year old Shawn Hawkins, who was scheduled to be executed next week. The commutation of sentence follows a unanimous recommendation for clemency by the State's Parole Board. Hawkins, who claims innocence, was convicted of shotting and killing two men. The board, however, was not "confident" in the death sentence for his case. See story here. and here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ohio: Recommendation for Clemency

In a unanimous recommendation, the State's Parole Board has asked Gov. John Kasich to grant clemency to Shawn Hawkins, who is to be executed next month.  Hawkins is charged with the death of two teens, in 1989, but the Board believes there are just too many doubts regarding his guilt. It is additionally believed that the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office "failed to fully investigate the role four others played - including the only eyewitness." See story here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ohio: Your Pardon is NOT in the Mail!

The Columbus Dispatch has an interesting article which, among other things, focuses on the case of one Christopher Banks, who has been waiting three years for a pardon to clear his name "of an old offense." Supposedly, former Gov. Ted Strickland approved of clemency for Banks back on January 7. But Banks is still waiting.

Further inquiries revealed Banks' name is on "a clemency spreadsheet," but that there is "no official paperwork" otherwise. It is has even been suggested to Banks that he might have to apply for clemency all over again (although the current administration "sympathizes" with him)! At least 5 others are similarly circumstanced.

The Dispatch notes Strickland was "rushing to complete all applications he received before leaving office" but he "ran into problems" because "he didn't act on any non-death-penalty cases until nearly three years into his four-year term." See story here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ohio: Loud Call for Pardon!

AOL News reports that Gov. John Kasich's office "has received 165,000 petition signatures asking him to pardon a 40-year-old, single, African-American Kelley Williams-Bolar, who has already spent 10 days in jail for fraudulently enrolling her children in a more desirable school district." Her conviction could also "disqualify her from becoming a school teacher." Williams-Bolar says she registered her daughters for a school using her father's address because she "feared for their safety at their home in Akron if they were home alone after school." See story here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ohio: 152 Pardons 7 Commutations

The Columbus Dipatch reports outgoing Governor Ted Strickland has granted 152 pardons and 7 commutations of sentence. He also denied 607 clemency applications. The Dispatch says that, as a result, Strickland is "the first governor in recent memory to clear his desk of all requests before leaving office." On the other hand, "previous governors all left hundreds of requests for their successor." It is also reported that Strickland granted a total of 319 pardons (out of 1,615 requests). One pardon is conditioned on the recipient enrolling in a college-level ethics course and making at least a "B." See full story here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ohio: 37 Pardons 6 Commutations

Gov. Ted Strickland (D), on his way out of office, has granted 37 pardons and 6 commutations of sentence. He also denied 334 requests. None of the cases involved the death penalty and the Governor's office says most of the grants "associated with minor or non-violent offenses." In addition, the recipients had "completed their entire sentence, or never went to prison." It is also reported that Strickland intends to "decide" other cases later this week. See story here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ohio: Unusual Reporting

ABC News 13, Toledo is reporting on gang banger Willie Knighten Junior, who was pardoned a year ago, after spending 13 years in prison for murder. Today, he works at Johnson Control and is looking forward to getting back into school. He also "spends time talking with neighborhood kids about his life." Knighten says he tells kids "about the ways they are living and the things that they're doing; there's a better way." See story here.

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