Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virginia. Show all posts

Friday, March 12, 2010

Virginia: New Clemency Policy

Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will "break with tradition" in his State by announcing his decisions on clemency for inmates just days before they are to be executed. It is reported that the previous "tradition" was to announce such decisions on the actual day of the execution.

The new policy will, of course, enable the state to avoid the awkwardness of telling those who have traveled far to witness an execution that the proceedings have been cancelled - for whatever reason. It will also allow the condemned to focus their final hours on matters more personal than the technicalities and odds favoring clemency petitions. One is reminded of the not-uncommon practice of presidents to delay executions in order that the condemned might better prepare themselves for the next life! See story here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Virginia: Kaine's Clemency Record

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch sees it, the last year of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's term "brought a record setting flood of gubernatorial forgiveness." More specifically, Kaine granted 64 pardons and restored the voting rights of more than 1,300 felons in 2009. It is noted that Kaine granted only 55 pardons in his first three years as Governor. See story here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Viginia: Gov. Kaine on Clemency

A selection from an interview in today's Washington Post:

Reston, Va.: Governor, thank you for your service! Will a final part of your legacy include restoring the voting rights of felons who have paid their debt to society and seek to regain their full place in the community?

Gov. Tim Kaine: I have used the executive clemency powers tor restore vopting rights for more than 4,400 Virginians. That is by far the most rights restoratins that any Virginia governor has done. Some have asked me to issue a blanket order retoring voting rights for an unknown number of unnamed individuals who have not applied to have their voting rights retored. While I am still wrestling with this request, I have some concerns whether it would be a use of the governor's powers in accort with the Constitution or not.

See full interview here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Virginia: The Norfolk One?

Last August, Governor Tim Kaine commuted the sentences of three members of the so-called "Norfolk Four." At the time, Kaine said he had "grave doubts" about their guilt but was unable to declare them innocent. So, Kaine granted conditional pardons, allowing all three me to leave prison after serving 11 years for rape and murder. Now, a court has ruled that one of the men, Derek Tice, can be retried because it "has not been concluded" that he is "actually innocent." See story here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Virginia: Sniper Requests Clemency

The Washington Post reports that attorneys for 48-year old sniper John Allen Muhammad have filed a clemency petition with Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). The basis of the request on behalf of Mr. Muhammad, who is to be executed on November 10, is that their client is "mentally ill." The petition references - among other things - "brain damage, brain dysfunction, neurological deficits" and "psychotic and delusional behavior." See story here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Virginia: Editorial on Norfolk Four

Richard Cullen has a piece in the Washington Post which reflects positively on Governor Kaine's decision making in the recent case of the so-called "Norfolk Four." While generally a good read, the piece is not without its awkward moments.

Cullen describes the governor's pardon power as "the right to substitute his judgment for that of a jury and the court system," an accurate description, but only in an exceptionally limited sense. The decision making of juries and courts are sometimes made in haste, relegated by strict rules or procedure, affected by inequalities in representation, weaved in an environment of conflict, influenced by expediency and passion and, of course, without the benefit of hindsight. Even the "winners" are aware of the fact (and sometimes admit!) that one little twist here or there, or one less unexpected breeze of fortune, might have radically altered the outcome.

All of this is hardly comparable to a governor calmly considering a record of good conduct throughout a lengthy prison sentence. Weighing and assessing empirical evidence of rehabilitation is no task for juries and courts. Their proper focus is incapacitation and retribution. A governor can consider what was not considered by juries and courts but, arguably, should have been. No one should complain about limited, less accurate information being replaced with a more accurate "big picture."

Cullen also writes that "an unconditional pardon is, in essence, an absolute finding of actual innocence." he says it is like the state saying "it made a mistake" and is "sorry." While there may very well be some clump of decisions from the State of Virginia that support this notion, there is certainly no federal analogy. Bill Clinton did not claim the government made a mistake when he pardons Patricia Hearst. The bank camera did not lie! A pardon merely ends whatever form of punishment an individual may endure. It is not a formal treatise on actual guilt or innocence. See complete editorial here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Post Vexed at Kaine's Clemency

The Washington Post features an editorial which "sympathizes" with Gov. Kaine, given the pressures he might feel while wielding the pardon power in murder cases, but nonetheless expresses dismay that he could not do a better job in the case of the so-called "Norfolk Four." As the Post puts it:
... No wonder 13 jurors from two of the trials later called for a full pardon for the four, joining a dozen former judges and prosecutors, four former Virginia attorneys general and 30 former FBI agents. That's why we are dismayed by the decision of [Kaine], who this week announced he would free -- but not pardon -- the three men who were serving life sentences for the Moore-Bosko murder. [Essentially], the governor commuted the sentences of the Norfolk 4 to time served, which means that even in freedom their lives will be circumscribed by sex offender registries, the lingering stigma of guilt and other burdens ...
The Post argues the governor's "formulation" fits "poorly with the facts." See full editorial here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Virginia: Statement of John and Carole Moore

Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:55 PM
August 6, 2009

Our family is devastated to learn that Governor Kaine has chosen to ignore the facts and history of this case by granting a conditional pardon to these confessed and convicted rapists and murderers. There is absolutely zero new evidence or information to justify this decision.

We do not believe it is a coincidence that Governor Kaine granted these pardons just a few weeks after the announcement that John Grisham intends to write a screenplay about this case. Stories about rapists and murderers who confess, then spend the rest of their lives in prison, do not make interesting movies.

Obviously, Mr. Grisham's wealth and influence are far more important to Governor Kaine's political aspirations and public image than truth or justice. Anyone who has questions about this relationship should research Mr. Grisham's history of political contributions, where they will find that Grisham has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, to Governor Kaine, the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic candidates.

Our family extends sincere thanks to the police officers, district attorneys, victim advocates, jurors and members of the judicial system who refused to give in to political pressure and the campaign of misinformation that we have endured for the past 12 years. They proved time, after time, after time that the Norfolk Four are guilty.

It is truly shameful and a disservice to the citizens of Virginia and our family, that the decisions of the courts have been ignored, and confessed rapists and murderers are being set free.

John and Carol Moore

Virginia: Commutations, The Governor's Statement

RICHMOND - Governor Timothy M. Kaine today released the following statement in response to the clemency petitions of Danial Williams, Derek Tice, Joseph Dick and Eric Wilson:

"Four ex-sailors who served together in Norfolk during the late 1990's have petitioned for Absolute Pardons, exonerating them from culpability in the rape and murder of Michelle Bosko; three of the four confessed and were convicted of both crimes and one confessed and was convicted of raping Mrs. Bosko. The individuals (collectively "the Petitioners") claim that their confessions were false and that the true perpetrator, Omar Ballard, has been convicted of the crime and sentenced to life imprisonment. For the reasons stated below, I conclude that the Petitioners have not conclusively established their innocence and therefore that an Absolute Pardon is not appropriate. However, I conclude that the Petitioners have raised substantial doubts about their convictions and the propriety of their continued detention. I therefore grant Conditional Pardons to Danial Williams, Derek Tice and Joseph Dick, the three Petitioners who remain incarcerated.

"The effect of these Conditional Pardons is to reduce the sentences of the Petitioners to time served. The Petitioners must meet specific behavioral conditions and remain subject to supervision by the Parole Board for a specific period of time after their release. These Conditional Pardons are not a conclusive finding of innocence but rather a reduction of sentences based on the analysis set forth below.

Virginia: Decision on Pardon?

The Virginian Pilot reports Gov. Timothy M. Kaine "is expected to make an announcement" this afternoon regarding the clemency petition of the so-called "Norfolk Four." The men (who are sailors) were convicted of the rape and murder of a Navy wife. Three of the four are still in prison. The fourth was released in 2006. Says the Pilot:
Their plight has become a cause celebre in some circles, inspiring a book and a a screenplay about the case. It has also caught the attention of several former Virginia attorneys general and retired federal agents who each held press conferences last year to proclaim their belief in the innocence of the sailors.
See story here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Virginia: Request

Another intriguing story from the Roanoke Times .... In 1988, Davey Reedy was convicted of starting a fire that killed his own two children and received two life terms plus 10 years. Now, after having served twenty-one years, he continues to maintain his innocence, has been paroled and is seeking clemency from Governor Tim Kaine. Amazingly, the story reads in part:
Prosecutors argued that Reedy torched his house while the children slept, then jumped out of a window, for one of two reasons: Either he bailed out of an intended murder-suicide, or he set the fire with the hope of rescuing his children and looking like a hero.
It is also reported that "a key piece of evidence" at trial was traces of gasoline on Reedy's shirt. It also did not help that he had previously threatened to burn down the house, with himself and the children inside.

Reedy filed a 65-page clemency request with Gov. Mark Warner in 2003. It is reported that, although Virginia abolished parole in 1995, about 8,000 inmates are still subject to the old laws. There are lots of other interesting details in the complete story here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Virginia: Request

Lawyers for Edward N. Bell made a final appeal to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) this week, asking him to commute the Bell's death sentence to life in prison. Bell was convicted of the shooting death of a police Sergent in 1999, but continues to claim that he was not the one who pulled the trigger. It is reported that the case could be a "land mine" politically for Kaine's Republican opponent in 2005. See full story here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Virginia: Pardoned, But ...

Ian Shapira of the Washington Post has written an interesting story regarding Air Force cadet Andrew F. Harley, who was arrested in 1985 on marijuana and cocaine charges. Harley was convicted in a court-martial, expelled and sentenced to eight months of military confinement. But two weeks ago, he received a presidential pardon. Shapira notes "there is no evidence that Harley pulled Washington levers for the pardon. No lawyer advocated his petition. He simply asked three friends to write letters on his behalf." Harley first applied for the pardon back in April of 2005.

But, Shapira also writes that the Bush pardon is just "part of Harley's ongoing drama." As it turns out he (Shapira) is "contending with a messy legal spat involving an Alexandria businessman, the businessman's estranged wife and their 19-year-old son." Lawsuits allege, among other things, that Harley sought to sell marijuana to the teenager. Margaret Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997, said that because presidents issue very few pardons, expectations are high for the character of those who receive them:

"There's no question in my mind that if federal investigators had seen these court documents, they probably would have held the case up," Love said. "On the other hand, if these suits only happened in August, you can hardly fault the Justice Department or FBI for not knowing about it. If there's a take-away, it's, 'Do more, Mr. President.' "

The current U.S. Pardon Attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, has declined to comment on the case but, since the conviction, Harley earned a social science degree from California Polytechnic State University and a master's degree in social welfare from Berkeley. He also married and had two children. Shapira writes:

Harley may never know why Bush chose him out of so many pardon applicants. He is one of just eight people in Maryland, the District and Virginia who have received a pardon or sentence commutation from Bush since he took office in 2001, according to an analysis by P.S. Ruckman, a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Illinois and author of the blog Pardon Power.

See full story - with many additional details of Harley's current legal battles - here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Virginia: Times Calls for Pardon

Today's New York Times features an editorial calling on Virginia Goveror Tim Kaine to pardon the mem popularly known as the "Norfolk Four" (Derek E. Tice, Joseph J. Dick Jr., Danial J. Williams and Eric C. Wilson). In part, the editorial says:

It is understandable that Mr. Kaine has not rushed to issue pardons. A governor should not lightly set aside a jury verdict. We fear that politics may also be involved. Pardons are generally unpopular with voters, and no politician wants to risk being targeted by a Willie Horton-style attack ad, blaming him for releasing a dangerous criminal back into society.

A grave injustice has been committed here. Mr. Kaine, who is a lawyer and a former professor of legal ethics, should understand as well as anyone how these prosecutions went awry. He should also understand how horrific and unfair it would be to force three men to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for a crime they did not commit.

See full text of editorial here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Virginia: Post Calls for Pardon

In an Editorial today, the Washington Post is calling on Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to pardon the Norfolk Four. It reports "four former Virginia attorneys general, from both parties" and two former FBI agents speaking "on behalf of themselves and 28 other retired agents who studied the case" have concluded the convictions were "a tragic mistake." Says the Post:
Every now and again, the criminal justice system breaks down and fails to produce a fair and true judgment. When the appeals process fails to correct this injustice, it falls to the chief executive of a state to step in. In Virginia, there is overwhelming evidence that this is one of those times.
See story here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Virginia: FBI Supports Clemency

The Associated Press reports that "several" former FBI special agents are "urging" Governor Timothy Kaine to grant clemency to four former sailors (aka "the Norfolk Four") convicted of a rape-slaying in 1997 because the men were wrongly convicted. Another source says there are a dozen such agents. The sailors, Derek E. Tice, Joseph Dick, Danial Williams and Eric Wilson confessed to participating in an attack on a female in her apartment and three of them (Tice, Dick and Williams) received two life sentences. However, a fifth defendant, Omar Ballard has confessed that he alone committed the crimes and his DNA was the only DNA linking anyone to the crime. It is also reported that this is the "third anniversary of the filing of the defendants' clemency petition with then-Gov. Mark Warner." See story here and here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Virginia: Call for More Pardons

Tamara Dietrich, at has written a passionate editorial on clemency. Along the way, she notes:
We make it nearly impossible for [prisoners] to re-integrate. We dismiss their accomplishments post-imprisonment and rub their noses in their offenses for the remainder of their natural lives.We strip them forever of basic rights of citizenship — to vote, sit on a jury, hold public office — without rare intercession by the governor. We make it harder if not impossible to get public assistance, find a decent place to live or any number of jobs.
With regard to the clemency process in Virginia, she notes:
Virginia allows three types of pardons, granted only by the governor. Like Ingleson, Mary wants a simple pardon, or official forgiveness. It doesn't erase a criminal record, but is intended to help the petitioner "advance in employment, education and self-esteem."Once the application is filed, the state could take a year to investigate its merits.Before you apply, though, you must ask for and be granted a formal restoration of rights. Another lengthy process, also granted at the sole discretion of the governor. Compare this red tape labyrinth to states that either restore most civil rights automatically upon release, or never strip them away in the first place.
Dietrich says the consequences of these policies are clear. Many are in "exile" from "civil society" and it is "no wonder some of them just give up and go bad. See complete editorial here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Virginia: Clemency, But Not Quite Enough.

The Associated Press reports Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has pardoned Kathryn Anne Ingleson for her 1997 credit-card-fraud conviction, but she still faces possible deportation. Why? The Governor has granted a "simple pardon" officially forgiving Ingleson. But it appears that she needs "an absolute pardon," which is granted when the governor becomes convinced that a person "did not commit the crime or did not knowingly do it." See story here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Virginia: Pardon, Deportation or the Vice Presidency?

The State parole board has completed its recommendation, as has the Governor's counsel. Now it is up to Timothy Kaine to decide the fate of Kathryn Ingleson, who is about one week away from being deported to England. Ingelson committed a "300 crime" more than a decade ago. The fact that she used a credit card to buy Christmas gifts for her little boy makes her current appeal even more appealing - to some. Interestingly, her attorney is reported to be worried that "Governor Kaine is hesitating making a decision, either way, until presidential candidate Barack Obama makes his decision on a Vice President." See story here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Virginia: Request

Governor Tim Kaine has still yet another hot clemency application on his desk. Aleck Carpitcher was convicted as a child molester in 1999 and given a 38-year sentence. The jury had originally recommended a sentence of over 70 years. But now, Carpitcher's accuser (who was 11 years old at the time) is reported to have confessed that she "made up the allegations because she was angry at Carpitcher for spending so much time with her mother." In fact, the girl originally recanted her accusations a mere nine months after Carpitcher (aka inmate no. 276923) was convicted. A polygraph test has also supported the recantation. See story here.

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