Showing posts with label Tennessee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tennessee. 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, September 20, 2013

Tennessee: Pardon Scandal Averted has an interesting article on one Keel Hunt, who is author of a book entitled, Coup: The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Republican Lamar Alexander in Office Early and Stopped a Pardon Scandal.

Hunt is described as a "former Tennessean reporter" and "speechwriter and coordinator" for Lamar Alexander. As the story is told, Alexander's predecessor, Ray Blanton "had been offering prison pardons for cash bribes during his final days in office." So, a "preemptive inauguration" was coordinated. Alexander "was quickly administered the oath of office in the Tennessee Supreme Court Building" to "prevent Blanton from issuing additional pardons." See story here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tennessee: Bernie Ellis Gives it a Shot

The Nashville Scene notes that one Bernie Ellis has became "a cause celebre when he was busted for growing small amounts of cannabis on his farm." According to the Scene, Ellis "wasn't selling his stash; he was using it to offset a medical condition and sharing it with critically ill cancer patients, some of whom had been referred on the QT by sympathetic medical professionals." The result was four years' probation, loss of his 30-year career as a public-health epidemiologist, and loss of  25 acres of land to the government.

Now, the scene reports that Ellis is "appealing to the highest authority in the land — President Barack Obama" by announcing a  "campaign" to "get a pardon."  Previously, he obtained more than 300 "testimonials" from "otherwise law-abiding citizens" in order to get his sentence cut in half. See story here.

Additional information on this case can be found here

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tennessee: Pardons and Commutations! reports Gov. Phil Bredesen has granted clemency to 26 individuals - 22 pardons and 4 commutations of sentence. One of the acts was a commutation of the death sentence of Edward Jerome Harbison to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A statement said the Governor looked at the cases "for a long time” and decided that his grants were "a responsible and humane exercise of the governor’s power and best serve the interests of fairness and justice.” An Adobe file sumarizing each decision can be found here. See additional details on the story here and here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tennessee: Last Minute Mercy? reports 227 clemency applications "have poured into" Governor Bredesen's office. 158 have been "reviewed" by the State's Board of Probation and Parole, but only five "have been sent to the governor's desk for approval." A spokeswoman says the Governor is "now reviewing clemency petitions and will make a determination in the coming weeks." See story here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tennessee: The Governor's Record

At the Tennessean.Com, the clemency record of Gov. Phil Bredesen is reviewed. It is reported that, during his eight year tenure, the State's clemency board has sent him only 21 recommendations. This year alone, the board has received 227 applications for clemency, reviewed 158 of them and recommended only five. Bredesen has also commuted the death sentences of Gaile Owens and Michael Joe Boyd to life in prison and exonerated Clark McMillan (convicted of rape and robbery but released after DNA evidence proved his innocence - 22 years later!)See complete story here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tennessee: Commutation of Sentence

Gov. Phil Bredesen has commuted the death sentence of Gaile W. Owens, who was convicted in 1986 of hiring another man to kill her husband, to life in prison. It is reported that the decision was based on the fact that "Owens had agreed to a plea bargain that was later rescinded and might have been abused by her husband." Bredesen also noted that in "nearly all the similar cases" the result was a life sentences. Owens could be eligible for parole as soon as 2012.

Owens's clemency application was supported by former Tennessean newspaper publisher and editor John Seigenthaler, Americana singer-songwriter Marshall Chapman and noted civil rights attorney George Barrett. See story and considerable detail on the case here and here. Tennessee has not executed a woman in 200 years!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tennessee: Still More Support for Owens

A "victims rights group" (You Have the Power) founded by Tennessee's "first lady" (Andrea Conte) is asking the governor to spare the life of a Gaile Owens who is currently on death row. See story here. WSMV Nashville reports "the domestic violence community and women's groups" have "jumped to" Owens' defense. Even the child of the man that she had murdered has begged for mercy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tennessee: More Support for Owens argues that clemency is in order for Gaile Owens, noting:
Owens is not asking for parole, only that her death sentence be commuted to life in prison. As a battered wife, she deserves at least that — not to be put to death.
See story here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tennessee: Female to be Executed?

Gaile Owens has been in prison for 25 years. On September 28, she is to be executed for the 1985 contract murder of her husband. It is essentially up to Gov. Phil Bredesen.Owens is said to be "extremely remorseful and regretful." She has retained the services of a high-profile Nashville attorney, George Barrett, and has the support of singer-songwriter Marshall Chapman. One may also visit a website supporting her cause: The goal is not a full and unconditional pardon, but a mere commutation of sentence.

Barrett claims Tennessee has convicted 26 women for either killing or arranging for the death of their husbands and none of them received the death penalty. Indeed, Owens would be the first female executed in Tennessee in more than a century.  It is not known if the other 26 victims were beat 21 times with a tire iron. He also claims Owens "has battered woman syndrome" and it is an "ideal situation for the governor to use his constitutional powers to grant commutation.” Most interesting is the fact that Owens was not allowed to plead guilty at trial. See story here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tennessee: Female to be Executed?

In 1988, Gaile Owens handed off $17,000 to a man in hopes that he would kill her allegedly abusive husband. She got what she wanted. But she also got the death penalty - something pretty rare for a female to get in this State. Currently, there are only two women on "death row" and Tennessee has not actually executed a woman for almost two centuries! A petition for clemency now sits with Governor Bredesen. See story here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tennessee: Fugitive? or Pardon Recipient?

Dave Canfield of The Saratogan has a great story here regarding one Robert T. Henry III. Mr. Henry has been arrested and is accused of leaving a work release program way back in 1980 while serving out a 15-year sentence for robbery. Now 62-years-old, Henry says, with great confidence, that he was pardoned because his family gave Gov. Ray Blanton $10,000 in political contributions in exchange for clemency! This is the first of a two-part series.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tennessee: Request

Tennessee is preparing to execute Steve Henley by lethal injection. He was convicted for a double murder 23 years ago. Kate Howard of the Tennessean reports, however, that "death penalty opponents say there are still too many questions to put a man to death who claimed innocence from the beginning, and was locked up largely on the testimony of a co-defendant who served five years before receiving parole." A request for a stay of execution was denied by the 6th Circuit on Monday. A phone bank is being employed to get people to contact the governor and ask for clemency, but no formal request has been filed. See story here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead

On February 27, Atlas Media will be releasing a documentary entitled, "Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead." It appears to focus on a somewhat bizarre relationship that developed between Blecker - a New York University law professor and passionate proponent of the death penalty - and Daryl Holton, of Tennessee, who was executed in 2007 for shooting and killing his three sons and their step-sister (all between the ages of 4 and 12). After the murder, Holton turned himself in to the police and explained, "Families should stay together, a father should be with his children." The Director is Tim Schillinger. See the provocative trailer and learn additional information about the film here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tennessee: The Importance of Representation

Capital University Law School professor Dan Kobil is counsel of record for the petitioner in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court related to the exercise of clemency in the states. Harbison v. Bell addresses the issue of legal representation for individuals sentenced to death. More specifically, it ponders whether such persons should be allowed the services of federally-funded attorneys to assist with clemency applications to governors and state boards when no other attorneys are available for assistance.

Federal law appears to allow for such assistance, but the circuits are divided on the mater. The 5th, 6th and 11th circuits take the position that assistance is available only for persons seeking clemency from the president. However, the 8th and 10th circuits take the position that the law allows federal assistance for individuals involved in state processes as well.

Prof. Kobil's brief to the Court (here) takes the straightforward position that it is "vital" that decisions on the commutation of death sentences be based on "the most complete information" and that such information be presented "in a professional manner." At least eleven current and former governors agree and have joined in the brief. Read more about the case here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Clemency in the High Court

Adam Liptak of the New York Times is reporting on criminal cases in the United States Supreme Court. Among other things, he observes:

The Supreme Court also agreed on Monday to hear an appeal from another Tennessee death row inmate, to resolve an issue that has divided federal appeals courts: Must the federal government provide lawyers to poor people on death row seeking clemency?

The case, Harbison v. Bell, No. 07-8521, turns on the proper interpretation of a federal law that provides lawyers to indigent death row inmates convicted in state court who challenge their death sentences in federal court. The law, part of the Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act of 2005, says that such lawyers are to represent their clients in “all available post-conviction process,” including “proceedings for executive or other clemency.”

The solicitor general’s office, representing the federal government, had urged the Supreme Court to hear the case to resolve the conflict among the appeals courts but said the law applied only to federal proceedings.

But the Associated Press reports that the Justice Department has said, elsewhere, "There is no constitutional right either to clemency itself or to counsel to pursue it." The AP also notes:

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat who has granted clemency once since 2003, said the state has no formal clemency proceedings and he would defer to the high court's decision. But if the Supreme Court finds that legal representation is required, he said, "then the federal government ought to pay for it."

Harbison was convicted of the beating death of an elderly woman back in 1983. See description of the gruesome murder here. See Adam Liptak's discussion of the Court and this case and others here. See Associated Press coverage here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tennessee: New Path to Clemency Reform?

This report discusses consideration of legislation that would end state health benefits for General Assembly lawmakers convicted of a felony. The bill - the byproduct of arrests and convictions of lawmakers involved in the “Tennessee Waltz” federal bribery sting - has alread passed in the State Senate unanimously. According to the report:

Under the bill, neither the surviving spouse nor the dependent children of a convicted lawmaker would be eligible to continue health care coverage. The bill was amended to include any governor convicted of a felony. The benefits would be stopped on the date of conviction or plea, and the person would not be eligible for any refund of premiums, co-payments or other costs previously paid. In the event that a conviction was later overturned and the person was acquitted, or was granted a full pardon, then the person would be restored all rights in regard to continuation of health care coverage, according to the bill.
The State Fiscal Review Office calculated that if a single lawmaker was convicted of a felony during 2008-09, the state would save more than $700,000 over a 25-year period. PardonPower wonders if there might not be greater concern about atrophy in clemency powers if state legislators are required to take a greater interest in the topic via this kind of legislation!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tennessee: Judicial / Executive Showdown

Paul House was convicted of rape and murder in 1986. Fifteen years after the conviction, DNA evidence DNA determined the semen in his the victim was actually that of victim's husband, House. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the DNA and other evidence were strong enough that a jury would not have convicted House -a determination also reached by lower courts in the appellate process. This article observes "many people thought the state would issue some type of clemency to [House], or even pardon him. But no, the state kept fighting to keep him in prison." Why? The article suggests Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is demonstrating that it is not "easy for some people to admit that they're wrong." Now, a judge has issued an order calling for the release of House arguing, "While the public has an interest in having the state's judgments enforced, the public also has a compelling interest in the state not continuing to incarcerate individuals who have not been accorded their constitutional right to a fair trial."

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