Showing posts with label Wyoming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wyoming. Show all posts

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wyoming: Applying "Inside" the Beltway

The Blog of the Legal Times reports that Charles Rumsey, Jr. has had just about enough of waiting for a presidential pardon. So, the Harvard Law School graduate who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the 1990s is now seeking the assistance of  a "Washington lobby shop" the TCH Group (and Michael Tongour in particular) "in an effort to build his case."

The Blog says hiring a lobbyist for such a purpose is "rare," on the basis of "a search of U.S. Senate records." It is also reported that Rumsey has given "thousands of dollars to Democratic and Republican committees over the years." See story here.

We find it worthy of note that only 29 percent of successful clemency applicants in the administration of George W. Bush were represented by lawyers. But the location of the top seven firms was as follows:

Location of Law Firm
District of Columbia
South Carolina

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wyoming: Ineligible for Clemency?

Today the Wyoming Star Tribune Editorial Board argues that, if a load of evidence shows that a man on death row is clearly innocent, the governor should proceed with the execution of the man, without hesitation, if he (the governor) was somehow acquainted with the prisoner personally, in the past. That is to say, if you ever happen to make the governor's acquaintance, then you are no longer qualified for justice within that State! OK, that is not exactly what the Editorial Board is arguing. But it does aim to convince us that pardons "should not be based on friendships" - just in case there is anyone out there who is wildly in favor of that position!

More specifically, the Board is critical of the fact that former District Attorney Kevin Meenan, who plead guilty to forgery and identity theft (and got probation) seven years ago, was recently pardoned by Gov. Dave Freudenthal. As it turns out, the two men were friends back in law school. The Editorial Board says, "the message sent was unmistakable." It was? A man was pardoned five years after he completed his two-year sentence for probation and there was a "message" sent? and it was "clear"? Here it is (according to the Board):
Justice is supposed to be blind, but in Natrona County, it has been able to see well enough to look out for a former DA who is still well-connected.
Actually, it appears that the Board has problems with much much more than the pardon. It complains that Meenan "received no jail time" and that "eight other felony charges" were "dropped" in a "plea agreement." As a result, he was "only" required to "resign from his position, pay $300 to the Victims Compensation Fund and perform 200 hours of community service." In sum, the Board has a problem with the entire justice system, but wants to take it out on the Governor's power to pardon!

The Board notes that District Judge Keith Kautz of Torrington, who knows the case "inside-out" opposed Meenan's clemency application. The Board does not particularly emphasize that the special prosecutor in the case, a police chief and several other State judges supported the application. The application was even supported by one of the victims of Meenan's criminal behavior. Presumably, she knew something about the case too!

In sum, there is no reason in the world for any right minded person to think the Governor's decision to extend clemency was there mere by-product of "friendship." See entire editorial here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wyoming: Pardon!

Gov. Dave Freudenthal has pardoned former Casper district attorney Kevin Meenana,who pleaded guilty in 2003 to forgery and identity theft. As it happens, the 55-year old Meenana is also a former University of Wyoming law school classmate of Freudenthal! But the governor says, if anything, the pardon was "probably" delayed by virtue of the Governor's "unease" with the "relationship." District Judge Keith Kautz wrote a letter to the State's Attorney General opposing Meenan's pardon application. On the other hand, Frank Chapman, who served as special prosecutor on Meenan's case, supported the application (as did a police chief and several judges). See story here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wyoming: Pending Request

Ruffin Prevost of the The Gazette Wyoming Bureau has written a great piece highlighting the clemency application of 72-year old Charles C. Rumsey, who plead guilty to one federal felony count of wire fraud and aiding and abetting in March of 1997. Rumsey says the conviction was the result of the fact that he unwittingly bought some cheap - but fraudulent - airline tickets. The punishment was a mere $4,000 fine and probation. But, of course, Rumsey was also branded a convicted felon - for what he sees as "a very minor offense" - and stripped of his right to own a gun for hunting. Along the way, the article notes:
P.S. Ruckman, a pardon expert and professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Illinois, said that many of those who seek presidential pardons do so because they want to be able to own a gun and hunt ... Seeking restoration of civil rights through presidential pardons has become more common over the past 60 years, Ruckman said, adding that the pardon power was previously used more to commute sentences.

... After Harry Truman granted a handful of pardons to individuals who had not applied for them, Dwight Eisenhower took up the issue, pledging greater transparency, Ruckman said, but the process remains cloaked in secrecy. Modern presidents have delegated the process to deputy attorneys general and have typically issued pardons near the end of their terms, offering no explanations or justifications, he said. “The process was more transparent in the early 1900s than it is right now. Back then, the annual report of the attorney general listed every person pardoned … and had remarks from the attorney general or president explaining the reason why,” he said.
Prevost says Rumsey’s grandfather was "a well-known sculptor from a wealthy and politically connected family." But the article also notes that, while the media tend to focus on the clemency applications of wealthy and powerful individuals, the typical applicant (and recipient) is neither.

Taking it a step further, the article notes that it is difficult to trace clemency decisions to political donations because - among other reasons - "up in the big-money areas" political donations cross party isles. Prevost writes, "Public documents available from the Federal Election Commission show that Rumsey made $10,700 in political contributions over the past four years, split about evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates and groups."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The President: Inside Story of a Pardon, and the Process

A recent article in the Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA) discussed the story of Pharmacist William L. Baker who was sentenced to two years in prison in 1980 for improperly refilling prescriptions (or, more specifically, refilling prescriptions for regular customers without first contacting the prescribing physician). Only 3 of the original 14 charges against him remained when a plea bargain was struck. Last month, the 69-year-old Baker, now a practicing attorney, was pardoned by President Bush. Baker filed his application back in 2002, "for the hell of it," just after graduating from Gonzaga Law School, whose Dean felt as though a "hanging" judge had given him a "raw deal." Baker passed the bar and persuaded the state bar association to grant him a law license.

Last year, during the review process, the Justice Department solicited comments from the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne. The problem was that no one remembered Baker's case. And the judge who sentenced him declined comment. Before sentencing, the judge had written a letter which said, "When I first went on the Bench I decided that cases involving illegal sales of drugs would not be treated leniently, and I have attempted to be consistent in sentences so that the drug pusher receives a jail sentence regardless of his high or his low position." At the sentencing hearing, the judge told Baker, "Your case is a little higher class - but you're going to prison, too."

The FBI was able to interview Baker's associates and neighbors and checked his tax returns, criminal history and credit. When he heard nothing back for months, Baker wrote the Office of the Pardon Attorney and asked if needed more information. On March 25, 2008, the acting pardon attorney, called him to report that the White House had just announced his pardon. The Justice Department gave no reasons for the pardon and Baker says he hasn't been told why he was selected.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wyoming: Furloughs v. Commutations

The Wyoming Senate will consider a bill allowing the governor the option of granting medical furloughs for state prison inmates. In part, the legislation is driven by the commutation that Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) gave to Jeffrey Reichert in 2007. Reichert was a Torrington businessman who defrauded farmers of more than $1 million. However, the controversial commutation was granted so Reichert could be eligible for parole and receive additional treatment for cancer. His attorney cited the lung cancer in the application for the commutation of the sentence. Gov. Freudenthal said he was reluctant to commute Reichert's sentence and requested that the Legislature provide the option of a temporary medical parole. See story here.

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