Showing posts with label watch list. Show all posts
Showing posts with label watch list. Show all posts

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jonathan Pollard Released After 30 Years !

The Los Angeles Times reports 61 year old Jonathan Pollard, long on our Pardon Watch List, has been paroled !

No other individual has been the focus of letters and phone calls of support for pardon to the Editor of this blog. The campaign for Pollard's release has been enduring and relentless, first calling for pardon, then commutation of sentence.

In November 2010, 39 members of Congress submitted a "Plea Of Clemency" to the White House on Pollard's behalf, asking for an immediate release. In February 2011, Arlen Specter, Chairman of hte Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote a letter to President Obama stating that Pollard should be pardoned and released. Specter was the second Chair of that Committee to publicly call for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Obama: Watch List '15

President Obama has granted so few pardons and commutations of sentence, we haven't much thought of anticipating individual pardons. But that doesn't mean the subject is not on the minds of others. And, with a recent round of commutations and the end of the term approaching, it is probably only a matter of time before the media engages in prognostication with reckless abandon. Interested readers may see our explanation of our own approach to this exercise here.

Watch List: Here are some individuals who have 1) expressed interest in clemency 2) been mentioned in media outlets as deserving clemency or 3) are being supported for clemency through assorted "campaigns":

Stephen Lee Arrington (cocaine trafficking) released
- ACORN (voter fraud)
- Weldon Angelos (marijuana)
- Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl(desertion)
- Jim Black (corruption) released
Barry Bonds (obstruction of justice) 
- Hillary Clinton (not charged)
- Randall "Duke" Cunningham (bribery, tax law violations) released
- Edwin Edwards (racketeering) released
- Jerry Eversole (lying to FBI)
- Bobby Ferguson (racketeering, extortion, bribery)
- Katie Hall (mail fraud) deceased
- Dan Hanks (quite the rap sheet!)
- Ron Isley (tax evasion) released
- William Jefferson (bribery, corruption)
- Jesse Jackson, Jr. (illegal use of campaign funds) released
- Sandi Jackson (plea)
- Jack Johnson (violation of Mann Act) deceased
- Marion Jones (steroids) released
- Kwame Kilpatrick - (racketeering, extortion and bribery)
- John Walker Lindh (terrorism)
- Bradley Manning (espionage)
Chris McNair (bribery) released
- Michael Milken (junk bond king)
- Leonard Peltier (double murder)
- O. Henry (embezzlement) deceased
- General David Petraeus (unauthorized sharing of classified information)
- Jonathan Pollard (spying)  
- Tony Rezko (corruption) a "spokesman" has said it will not happen
- George Ryan (corruption) released 
- Michael G. Santos (cocaine distribution) released
- Richard Scrushy (bribery) released
- Don Siegelman (trading favors for contributions)
- Wesley Snipes (income tax evasion) released
- Edward Snowden
- Martha Stewart (conspiracy) released
- Michael Vick (conspiracy to operate interstate dog fighting ring) released
- Mark E. Whitacre (wire fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering) released

- Chris Williams (drugs)
- Jeri Wright (money laundering)

See anyone missing? Let us know. Make your case! We might very well add them! Incidentally, we are not keeping score here. But, in the past, the following people appearing on our "Watch List" have received pardons or commutations: Ignacio Ramos, Jose CompeanCharlie Winters, John Forte, Lawrence Hutchins.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Illinois: Jackson Jr. Walks

Jess Jackson, Jr. notes that former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. left an Alabama federal prison this week, after serving "a portion of his 2 ½-year sentence" for having "illegally spent $750,000 on campaign funds." Jackson was the prison in Montgomery after he "got into a dispute" with prison officials at the Butner Federal Prison in North Carolina.

Like many prominent persons before him who wound up in prison, Jackson is said to have developed passionate views on the topic of "prison reform." In addition, he sent a letter to, informing readers that he wants presidential pardon. It is said that Jackson is also calling on President Obama to pardon the leaders of American slave rebellions

Jackson wrote two books while incarcerated, "The Tao of Jesus Christ," and "The Last Campaign: A Memoir." See full story here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Praise of Debra Saunders (And All Such Journalists!)

We have had Clarence Aaron on our Pardon Watch List for some time now, and are quite pleased to remove his name - now that his ridiculously long prison sentence has finally been commuted. But long before there was ever a Pardon Power Blog, the San Francisco Chronicle-based editorialist Debra J. Saunders saw the injustice of Aaron's case, and began a series of pleas /arguments on his behalf. Year after year, she penned editorials, explaining the facts of the case and the sentence, arguing the case was indicative of larger, systematic problems and pleading with the President and DOJ officials to exercise the power of pardon.

The pen may or may not be mightier than the sword, but that is to say nothing of the noble nature of the cause, or the effort. The Editor of this blog was able see / experience such an effort from Adam Liptak of the New York Times, who took the time and care to report on the inexcusable behavior of one governor (Jan Brewer) in one state (Arizona) in a single case (William Macumber). Readers can see the results in the book Manifest Injustice, by Barry Siegel.

There seems to be very little doubt that Clarence Aaron's story would make for a compelling book, and Debra J. Saunders would have to be part of that story.  Her effort was persistent, unrelenting, admirable and compelling. The world of journalism would benefit from more people like her. Here (below) are links to some of the editorials Saunders wrote on Aaron's behalf:

Dec. 2001: In America, punishment should fit the crime
Dec. 2002: Nine years ago, Aaron sentenced to life without parole
Nov. 2004: Fourth Christmas season writing about Aaron
Nov. 2005: Quality of Bush pardons lacking
Nov. 2007: Is there mercy in America for Clarence Aaron?
Nov. 2008: The power of the pardon
Nov. 2009: Politics of the pardon
Dec. 2012: Who will pardon the pardon attorney?
July 2013: Obama could have been Clarence Aaron
Dec. 2013: Obama's turkey of a pardon record
Dec 2013: Department of Injustice

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Pardon Angelos!

The Salt Lake City Tribune has an editorial calling on President Obama to grant a presidential pardon to Weldon Angelos, who is serving a 55-year prison sentence for selling $350 worth of marijuana while in possession of a firearm. Angelos had no prior adult record. The Tribune notes "civil rights advocates have been fighting this case for more than a decade as one of the least justifiable outcomes of mandatory minimums."
What’s different about this letter [of support for clemency] is the sweeping cross section represented in the 114 people who signed it. Rocky and Jake not an odd enough couple for you? How about Norm Bangerter and Bonnie Raitt? Angelos was a budding music producer with a wife and two small children when he did the deed. His cause has attracted the attention of musicians like Raitt, Graham Nash and Napoleon, a former bandmate of Tupac Shakur who is now a motivational speaker. Celebrities aside, the signers also include former FBI Director William Sessions, 29 former U.S. attorneys, 10 former judges, four former governors (including Bangerter) and two former members of Congress (including Garn). 
Ironically, Angelos rejected a plea that would have resulted in a 15-year sentence and went to trial.  There, he argued that he did not have a gun during the sales because "there was no evidence that he had showed a weapon during the drug deals." Guns were found, however, in his home.

The Tribune adds that "even the judge handing down the sentence admitted it was wrong but required under sentencing rules." Indeed, he called the sentence "unjust, cruel and irrational."See story here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Watch List: Jackson Jr. Sentenced, Pardon to Follow?

Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Jackson, Jr., who, along with his wife, pilfered more than a quarter of a million dollars of campaign donations has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison - with the possibility of a four month reduction.

As he got into a car to drive away from reporters, Jackson, who used checks and credit cards more than 3,000 times for "personal items (such as multiple flat screen televisions, sports club memberships, nightclubs and lounges, a gold-plated Rolex watch, fur capes and parkas), said:
"I still believe in forgiveness and redemption ... and I still believe in the resurrection." 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Saunders: Trayvon Martin v. Clarence Aaron

Debra J. Saunders, at the San Francisco Chronicle, notes that it was almost a year ago that the White House "said it wanted to review the commutation petition of a black man sentenced to life without parole in 1993 for a first-time nonviolent drug conviction." Yet, in his recent speech regarding Trayvon Martin, and the African-American community's "acute awareness" of "racial disparities" in "everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws," the President "ignored his own failure to redress a racial inequity by freeing Clarence Aaron." Writes Saunders:
You might say that under different circumstances, Barack Obama could have been Clarence Aaron.
As such, the President should really "clean up his own turf." More specifically, he should "use the pardon power" to apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively. This would address what Families Against Mandatory Minimums President Julie Stewart calls - in effect - "serving death in prison" for first time, non-violent drug offenses. Saunders notes:
A growing number of conservatives -- ranging from Jeb Bush to Ed Meese -- have signed the Right On Crime statement of principles, which challenges Washington's "reliance on prisons" and policies that harden low-risk offenders who could be rehabilitated. With this movement, Obama could use the pardon power in a cause that brings left and right together. Alas, it appears the president seems interested in racial disparity only when he can use it as a crowbar to pry the country further apart. When he has the authority and ability to correct federal racial inequities, he is missing in action. 
See full editorial here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Alabama: Siegelman, Connections reports that President Obama's former White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, has visited Don Siegelman in prison "in the last few weeks." Craig's law firm (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flomis) also reported to be "taking over part of the former governor's appeal of his bribery conviction." Siegelman's son, a law student. says he doesn't think Craig's firm "would have agreed to take on an appeal or an issue that didn't have merit." Craig is also notable for defending President Clinton against impeachment and for representing John Hinckley Jr. (who shot Ronald Reagan).

The 67-year old Siegelman is serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for bribery and other charges and is projected to be released some time in August of 2017. He has also steadily maintained his innocence.

 See full story here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Saunders: Holder Still a Mess When It Comes to Pardons

Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle observes that, at Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Steve Cohen asked Eric Holder about a possible presidential pardon for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Cohen argued President Obama could pardon Siegelman "now,” but Holder, evidently, attempted to rebut that notion by saying Siegelman wasn't eligible to "apply" for clemency because he has not served out his sentence and there is an ongoing appeal.

Cohen then observed what should have been the obvious (at least obvious to the Attorney General of the United States ... and the point person for the Marc Rich pardon and FALN commutations) - that Department of Justice "rules" and "guidelines" do not constrain the president in any way, shape or form. Holder then sheepishly agreed.

Cohen then asked Holder if the current U.S. Pardon Attorney was under investigation. Holder responded that there had been "some difficulties" with respect to some applicant (whose name he could not remember), but added that "corrective measures" had been "put in place" so such a "mistake" would "not happen in the future.” With exasperation, Saunders notes the individual was Clarence Aaron, "who outrageously was sentenced to life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense."

Indeed, if Mr. Aaron's application is not the most famous around, it is certainly in the top 5. And a report by the Office of the Inspector General concluded the conduct of the Pardon Attorney, in the matter of Aaron's application, "fell substantially short of the high standards to be expected of Department of Justice employees and of the duty that he owed to the President of the United States." But Attorney General Holder only has a fuzzy memory of any of this? Wow! Imagine what it will be like for Congress to get information out of him that he doesn't want them to have!

Saunders accurately observes,
"... Holder should be outraged that Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers withheld vital information on Aaron’s case. The only corrective measure that can prevent a repeat would be to remove Rodgers from a position for which he tempermentally is unsuited."
See Saunder's complete post here. See our previous posts on Holder here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Watch List: Pollard, Pardon, Parole

This interesting piece notes Jonathan Pollard became eligible for parole ten years ago, but he has never applied for parole, even once! Read why here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Watch List: Siegelman, Mr. Obama?

Much has been written about the Don Siegelman case, but Bennett L. Gershman has made one of the better efforts at Huffington Post. In Gershman's mind, the question is not so much Why is Siegelman in prison? as it is, Why was he prosecuted and jailed at all? Why? Because:
Of all the abusive, vindictive, and politically-driven prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice, the prosecution of Don Siegleman stands at the top. Over a hundred Attorneys General from both political parties have condemned the legality of his prosecution. The House Judiciary Committee has documented the partisan cabal between the Bush White House and the Justice Department to take down Siegelman and destroy his career. Commentary by journalists, academics, and disinterested observers has uniformly decried the legal and ethical irregularities that contaminated his prosecution and blackened the reputation of the Justice Department. 
Yet, to date, President Obama has "refused" to grant Siegelman a pardon or commute his seven-year sentence.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama to Pollard, "No."

The following passage is from Business Insider:
The argument is based on the position that [Jonathan Pollard] has already served 28 years for actions that benefited a key U.S. ally but did not harm the national security of the U.S. More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition for his release and top Israeli officials have indicated that they will ask Obama for his release. (In 2010 officials offered to extend the temporary moratorium on settlement construction in exchange for the Pollard's release.) But last week Obama told Israel's Channel 2 that he is not about to free Jonathan Pollard from prison because he “committed a very serious crime." 
See full story here.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quote of the Day: T. Roosevelt on O. Henry

"All the reforms that I have attempted in behalf of the working girls of New York were suggested by the writings of O. Henry." Theodore Roosevelt

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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Watch List: Edwin Edwards Meets "Reality"

The New York Times reports former governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edwards, "is requesting an early and immediate end to his supervised release" in order to begin production of "a reality TV series with his third wife." It is also reported that prosecutors "support" the request. The 85-year old Edwards is not considered a threat to the "safety of the public" (threatening the intelligence of the general culture constituting no crime). See full story here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Watch List: Siegelman's Pardon Strategy

Tim Lockette of the Anniston Star has written an informative artilce re the current status of the search for clemency by former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. And the news is more than a little surprising. Siegelman is apparently seeking something like a commutation of sentence and a full presidential pardon at the same time! More specifically, he is seeking a commutation of sentence on the basis of innocence! As Lockette reports, Siegelman's advisors are "still struggling with the fact that the commutation application seems to require an admission of guilt."

To add to the freakishly long odds of accomplishing this goal, Siegelman currently has no application for clemency in the Department of Justice! Why he would have no application in the mix as we went through the last December of the fourth year of the President's first term is quite the mystery.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SHOCK ! O.I.G. Blasts U.S. Pardon Attorney

The Office of the Inspector General has released a 21-page report entitled, "Review of the Pardon Attorney's Reconsideration of  Clarence Aaron's Petition for Clemency." Aaron, of course, has been on our Pardon Watch List for years now. We have posted a link to the entire document below, but find the following passages particularly relevant:

Page 15 : " ... Rodgers did not represent Rhodes's views accurately to the White House in his e-mail on December 3, 2008. We believe that Rodgers's characterization of Rhodes's position was colored by his concern [that] the White House might grant Aaron 'clemency presently' and his desire that this not happen ... Rodgers's email to the White House, approved by the Counsel downplayed the significance of U.S. Attorney Rhodes's views [as] 'slightly revised ... In fact, the change was dramatic ... In the email, Rodgers also stated that Rhodes believed that Aaron's commutation request was 10 years premature. This was not an accurate characterization of what Rhodes wrote. In doing so, Rodgers told the White House - inaccurately - that Rhodes was opposed to President Bush commuting Aaron's sentence."

Page 16 : "Rhodes thus clearly contemplated that Aaron would serve less than 25 years if his sentence was commuted to that length. Rodgers's email completely omitted this important aspect of Rhodes's recommendation, which was consistent with immediate commutation to a sentence of 25 years ... Rodgers should not have characterized it as he did. He should have acknowledged that ambiguity in his email and relied on his own arguments, instead of indicating inaccurately that Rhodes agreed with him that the petition was ' about 10 years premature' and should be denied ... Furthermore, Rodgers never conveyed [concern] about 'administrative problems' to the White House, nor did he make any record ...

Page 17 : "... of it in Decembers 2008 ... Rodgers's inaccurate description of Rhodes's letter in his email to the White House would have been even worse but for the editing provided by the Counsel ... We also believe that Rodgers's choice of words in the emails to describe Judge Butlers's position ran the risk of misleading the White House about the sentencing judge's position ... We concluded that the primary responsibility for the inaccuracies and ambiguity in the email that was sent to the White House ultimately lies with Rodgers, the author ...

Page 21 : In sum, we concluded that pardon Attorney Rodgers did not accurately represent the views of U.S. Attorney Deborah Rhodes in his e-mail to the White House recommending against a commutation of Aaron's sentence ... Rodgers did not represent Rhodes's position accurately, and his conduct fell substantially short of the high standards to be expected of Department of Justice employees and of the duty that he owed to the President of the United States."

See full O.I.G. report (in .pdf format) here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Siegelman at the DNC

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman - long on our Pardon Watch List - is on his way to a 69-month stint in federal prison. But, first, he is stopping by the Democratic National Convention! Yes, at the convention center, Siegelman told reporters that is "going to try to get a commutation of sentence and eventually a pardon.”

How is that for optimism?

Siegelman explained further that he is not lobbying the President directly, just yet. But he is looking around for contacts, people who "will be able to act" in his "stead" with the president, "when the time is right." He says, “and that is after the election and not now.” For now, he is content "just to talk" to people who "have an understanding" about this case and who also may "have some bearing on the outcome of the pardon or the outcome of a commutation.”

See full story here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Watch List: McNair, Again

Fresh off of the news that the DOJ's OPA is being investigated for - among other things - discriminating against African-American clemency applicants, a lawyer has announced that he will file a second request for clemency on behalf of Chris McNair. The Birmingham News reports a plan to November (December being a hot month for grants). The 86-year-old McNair is serving a five-year prison sentence for a bribery conviction, but has only served just over a year. McNair is also seeking a remission of $425,000 he owes in restitution. Sees story here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Obama Calls for DOJ Review / Study !

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration has "asked for a fresh review" of Clarence Aaron's request for a commutation of sentence (see our Watch List) and has also "directed" the Justice Department "to conduct its first in-depth analysis of recommendations for presidential pardons."

It is also reported that "advisers" to the president "expect" the President to "significantly" increase clemency activity "whether or not he is elected to a second term." In part, this expectation is said to reflect the fact that there is "growing interest" inside the White House in "reforming the pardon process.

Pardon Power is aware of at least one U.S. Senator who has a keen interest in such a study, and eventual reform. At present, the President's record on clemency is anemic at best. See complete story here

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