Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Bill Macumber. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Bill Macumber. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Arizona: Jan Brewer's Face Time and Bill Macumber

Dave Biscobing, of (Arizona) has filed an excellent report on the case of Bill Macumber, who has spent the past 35 years in jail despite considerable doubt re his actual guilt. Macumber’s wife was the one who actually turned him. At the time, they were in the middle of a heated divorce and child-custody battle. She was also under investigation at the sheriff's office, where she worked and had access to files containing what little evidence there was against her former husband. To top it off, another man confessed to the murders years before Macumber was arrested - a fact that his trial jury did not know.

Biscobing claims ABC15 "has reviewed thousands of pages of documents, reports and records and spent months speaking with people close to case." He notes Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop were murdered on May 23, 1962. Twelve years later, Carol Macumber, an employee of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, fingered her husband as the killer and a bullet casing and a palm print were quite enough to send him to prison. Biscobing notes "she had access to case records, fingerprints and files, according to lawyers and records. She also practiced fingerprinting on Bill when she first started her job."

Ernie Valenzuela, a self-proclaimed serial killer, was defended by Tom O’Toole who reports Valenzuela "described the McKillop / Sterrenberg killings in detail" and gave himself credit for the murders on five different occasions "to five other people, including a cellmate, another lawyer and psychologists."

Then, of course, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency recently took up the case and Macumber "became the only non-DNA case in history where the board has unanimously recommended his release." The Board found "substantial doubt" of Macumber's guilt and recommended that Governor Jan Brewer correct the "miscarriage of justice" via executive clemency. In an exceptionally freakish and whimsical abuse of power, Brewer ignored the recommendation and, for months, refused to even comment on the case. The silence was then followed by a series of non-specific, generic explanations which appeared to be deliberately aimed at adding insult to injury.

Biscobing now notes that Brewer has built up a "four-year backlog of clemency cases" (one might recall the clemency handiwork of former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich). Face time on late night cable television barking about borders is Jan Brewer's gig. Justice? Not so much. See full story here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Arizona: At Last, Justice for Bill Macumber !!! reports that 77-year old Bill Macumber, imprisoned almost four decades for the killing of two 20-year-olds "pleaded no contest Wednesday to second-degree murder charges in a move that secured his freedom."  He maintained his innocence from the start.

The Arizona Justice Project has worked for Macumber's release, noting "no DNA evidence linked him to the crimes, his wife framed him; and another man had confessed to the killings."

The State's clemency board told Gov. Jan Brewer that "an injustice has been done in the case, and there was substantial doubt that Macumber was guilty of the crimes." But Brewer denied the recommendation "to either commute the sentence to time served or reduce it to 35 years to life in prison." She then stonewalled press inquiries regarding her reasons for the denial.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Arizona: Coverage / Commentary Re Jan Brewer's "Justice"

Click on each passage to see the full context of coverage / commentary on the case of Bill Macumber

Macumber seems to be not a double murderer but a multiple victim — a victim of unjustly rigid rules of evidence (surely the confession would have raised a reasonable doubt of his guilt); a clemency process wherein governors have more to lose politically by releasing convicts than they have to gain by showing mercy - Ronald Goldfarb, The Hill

The speculation is that Governor Brewer is putting the interests of getting reelected ahead of the interests of justice. By refusing to release Macumber, she manages to appear tough on crime. For months, Brewer has been wrongfully pilloried for enforcing federal immigration laws in Arizona. It hurts to see the victim of such injustice perpetuate an injustice in her capacity as governor. I hope she will reconsider her decision, and let William Macumber spend his ailing twilight years as a free man. There is still time to do the right thing. I hope Governor Brewer will free William Macumber while there is still time. - Rudy Stettner, IndyPosted

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arizona: Clemency Mystery

Last August (that is nine months ago), the State's five member Board of Executive Clemency unanimously recommended that 75 year old Bill Macumber be released from prison because there was "substantial doubt" as to his guilt. No, not any of the wishy-washy "rehabilitation" stuff. The man is thought to be innocent!

Macumber was charged with a double homicide in 1974. The murders actually took place in 1962. Governor Jan Brewer (R), on the other hand, denied Macumber's application for clemency without explanation three months after the Board's unanimous recommendation and, it appears, is stonewalling any attempt by anyone to understand why. As it is reported:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Manifest Injustice !

Today, Pulitzer Prize winner Barry Siegel's new book, Manifest Injustice: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Fought for His Freedom, is on the shelves of the Nation's bookstores (see ad here).

The book is about the case of one William Macumber whose situation was highlighted in many of our posts (click here). We have asked (and gained) permission to quote the following passages from the book:
The next day, P.S. Ruckman, Jr., an associate professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Illinois, posted a report about the Macumber case - and Governor Brewer's refusal to discuss it - on his Pardon Power blog. Ruckman raised alarms and expressed hope that "the media will hammer this ... on a daily basis until the topic is addressed appropriately." A Justice Project law student volunteer  Andrew Hacker, spotted Ruckman's post and relayed a link to Katie in an e-mail carrying the subject line "It's spreading ..." (p. 282)
Indeed, the following day, the Editor of Pardon Power contacted every prominent member of the National media (print and broadcast) that he had worked with in recent years. He summarized the case and asked that they consider covering Macumber's plight. Adam Liptak of the New York Times graciously took and interest in the story wrote a great piece. Professor Ruckman spoke with Liptak about the case while he (Ruckman) was enjoying the Magic Kingdom (in Orlando) and his family was sitting through Stitch's Great Escape! Siegel writes:
At the state prison in Douglas, Bill Macumber tried to make sense of all the attention being paid to him. [He] hoped the exposure would help, and maybe even affect Governor Brewer. He particularly appreciated Professor Ruckman's blog posting and Adam Liptak's New York Times piece, since they'd kindled the media interest. "Perhaps I will remain in prison,  he wrote to Professor Ruckman, "yet should that prove to be the case there are now countless people out there that believe in me and in my innocence. I find considerable satisfaction in that." (p. 285)
Bill is now, finally out of prison. We are happy, both for him, and for family members living here in Illinois. Members of local media (in Rockford, IL.) also deserve credit for taking the time to cover this story, when they could have easily covered other news items less disturbing and more commonplace.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Arizona: Working Around the Nightmare that is Jan Brewer

Tulsa Today is reporting on Senate Joint Resolution 46 which would removed the governor from the parole process for nonviolent criminals, saving the state money and allowing the governor to focus on more important things. The State's Legislature has already passed House Bill 2131 "which essentially will remove the Governor from the parole process for nonviolent crimes."  It allows the Governor thirty days to consider recommendations. If the Governor takes no action, the board's recommendation is upheld. These efforts certainly make a great deal of sense given Governor Jan Brewer's disastrous course of action in the Bill Macumber case. See full story here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010

Here, in our humble opinion are the Top Ten Clemency Stories of 2010. Each item is also linked. Simply click on the associated number. Oh, and by the way, sorry, no Billy the Kid nonsense here:

Number 10: The Mighty Quinn - When former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was run out of office, he left a stack of literally thousands of clemency applications behind, some dating back more than a decade. His replacement, Pat Quinn (D) promised to address the applications as best as he could, in a more timely fashion. In his mind, timely attention is implicit in the very notion of a just application process. Quinn kept his word.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unfortunate Response to Brewer's Incompetence

The Phoenix New Times blog reports that a group of state representatives "has introduced a bill that would strip the governor of the power to commute prison sentences and hand it over to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency." The legislation, formally titled The Arizona Commutation Reform Act, was introduced by Reps. Cecil Ash, Daniel Patterson, Tom Chabin, Brenda Barton, Eric Meyer, Kate Brophy McGee, Richard Miranda, Peggy Judd, David Burnell Smith, and Catherine Miranda, as well as Sen. Ron Gould.

Apparently, the governor rejects about 84 percent of cases recommended to the governor by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency are rejected each year. Over the last six years, only 53 cases out of 340 total have been approved by the governor. The result is an estimated $25.7 million dollars in revenue spent in order to house prisoners that the board has recommended for clemency.

Then, the part of the story we are particularly fond of:
The legislation comes in the wake of a controversy over the governor's refusal to commute a man's sentence despite the board's unanimous recommendation that he be released from prison. William Macumber (pictured above) is the first man in Arizona history to be unanimously recommended for clemency by the board without a DNA exoneration. Macumber first applied for clemency December 15, 2008. On August 25, 2009 the board unanimously recommended in a letter to the governor that he be released, partly because of his "extraordinary accomplishments" in prison but also because of the "substantial doubt that Mr. Macumber is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted."

That "substantial doubt" stems from the fact that his wife, who worked in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office at the time of the murders, reported to her supervisors that he had "confessed" the crime to her -- a claim she made while they were going through a nasty divorce. Her son now believes that his mother framed his father, and so, apparently, does the parole board.

But Brewer didn't see it that way. In November 2009, she denied him clemency, but declined to elaborate.
Indeed! See our coverage of Brewer's wildly inappropriate behavior here. See full story here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Clemmons Problem? Or Media Problem?

Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times has announced ever so ominously that,
If former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is going to run for president in 2016, his campaign is going to have to run through the Forza coffee shop in Parkland, Wash. That’s where one of Huckabee’s many parolees, Maurice Clemmons, assassinated four Lakewood police officers in 2009, depriving nine children of a parent and setting a national perception that Huckabee abused his powers of clemency. 
Martin says Huckabee's "Maurice Clemmons problem" exists because Huckabee "freed Clemmons from a 108-year sentence in 2000." Seemingly to prop up the claim, Martin notes Huckabee "granted more pardons and commutations - 1,033 - than his three predecessors (including Bill Clinton) combined."

But the "Maurice Clemmons problem" is really a "poorly informed / sensationalist media problem." Martin was clever enough to identify a "perception" that Huckabee abused his clemency powers in the case of Clemmons, but boorish enough not to say what the primary mover of that perception was: second (if not third) rate - and often outright misleading - media reporting.

Mike Huckabee did not set Clemmons free, much less "abuse" his pardon power in the process. Clemmons had been given a 108-year sentence at the age of 16 (nothing to see there!). In 2000, Huckabee merely commuted that sentence - not to time served mind you - but to 47 years. By that point, Clemmons had served eleven years, but no one was set free.

Huckabee did not have the power to simply grant parole. Nor does parole rain from the sky in Arkansas. It does not flow from public drinking fountains. Arkansas has a Post-Prison Transfer Board which makes recommendations for parole to the governor after thorough investigation of each application. After reviewing Clemmons' request (supported by the sentencing judge), that Board unanimously agree to set Clemmons free, if you will - although with supervision. Clemmons could have been a bone head as Governor Jan Brewer was in the case of William Macumber. But, as he later explained:
... Clemmons met the criteria for parole and was paroled to supervision in late 2000. When he violated the terms of his parole, he was returned to prison and should have remained behind bars. For reasons only the prosecutor can explain, he ended up dropping the charges, allowing Clemmons to leave prison and return to supervised parole. Clemmons moved to his native Washington State and engaged in intermittent criminal activity that increased in violence and frequency. He was arrested on charges of raping a child, yet was allowed to post bail in Washington. While out on bail, he committed the unspeakable acts of murdering four valiant police officers.
And, as Huckabee also explains:
If I could have possibly known what Clemmons would do nine years later, I obviously would have made a different decision. If I only had the same information I had then, I would make the same decision. 
Huckabee can certainly be roundly condemned for failing to predict the future and being unable to connect dots that no one else around him could connect. And Martin certainly looks brilliant, well after the fact. As for playing on the Nixonian phobias ... not so impressive. The Maurice Clemmons problem is largely a problem of unimpressive second-guessing by media too lazy to write well, but desperate to manufacture more controversy than warranted. See full editorial here.

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