Showing posts sorted by date for query Jack Johnson. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Jack Johnson. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

O. Henry Petition Deep-Sixed

We wanted to inform our readers re the status of our recent petition for the posthumous pardon of O. Henry. We filed the petition on the advice of the former U.S. Pardon Attorney, Robert Zauzmer. We have done this twice before. Once, a former Pardon Attorney rejected it outright. The second time, the same Pardon Attorney did not even respond to the request.

In our recent (third) attempt, we asked the U.S. Pardon Attorney to forward the petition (or the standard summary of its contents) to the President without any formal recommendation. Which is to say, we wanted to avoid the standard default - "no" - of that Office. They are experts in saying it, so many ways. While petitions are not normally forwarded in this manner, such a thing would not have been unprecedented. Not even close.

As we saw it, we would get what we wanted - the petition would be seen by the President). The pardons office should have also been pleased - it could save its precious times, time that it clearly wanted to spend on almost exclusively on commutations of sentence for a single category of offenders. In sum, our request made hard sense. Mr. Zauzmer assured us the O. Henry petition  (or standard summary) would make it before "the President's eyes."

We were thrilled.

What we have since learned is that the former Pardon Attorney took it upon himself to re-litigate the issue of whether or not a president could / should be able to grant posthumous pardons. Bill Clinton granted the first (to Henry Flipper, in 1999). George W. Bush granted the second (to Charlie Winters in 2008). But maybe that was all by mistake. So, the Pardon Attorney studied the question himself (with the assistance of materials that we sent to him, to expedite his decision making). He then forwarded materials related to the issue (and, evidently, a recommendation memo) to White House staff. The decision was then made - between them - that no posthumous pardons would be entertained by President Obama. No O. Henry. No Jack Johnson. No Marcus Garvey. Etc. Etc. Any such applications were ignored as a matter of policy. They were not rejected on the merits.

We hope that the new Pardon Attorney manages that office more openly, honestly and with a greater eye toward precedent, efficiency and fairness, as opposed to clumsy PR ("making history," "records," etc.). Regardless, we will file another petition. And, we will once again ask that the Office of the Pardon Attorney - aka, the House of "No" - will, somehow, allow it to escape the clutches of the automatons.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Obama: A Crack in the Wall?

For weeks, there has been fairly uninhibited media speculation about whom Obama may or may not pardon, or commentary about whom he should or should not pardon. Will he pardon Hillary Clinton? Edward Snowden? Leonard Peltier? former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich? former CIA director David Petraeus? US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl? Chelsea Manning? Marcus Garvey? Jack Johnson? Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?

Cooler heads (we like to think we are among them) have noted that President Obama has been wildly stingy with pardons and his clemency record, overall, has featured no stunts. There are no grants to friends, family members, partisan hacks and donors. Applications have not by-passed the Justice Department. Waiting period guidelines have not been violated. The President himself has said pardons and applications have to go through the vetting process. As he put it in August, he said:
“The process that I put in place is not going to vary depending on how close I get to the election ... So it's going to be reviewed by the pardon attorney, it will be reviewed by my White House counsel, and I'm going to, as best as I can, make these decisions based on the merits, as opposed to political considerations.”
Whatever one wants to say about Obama, he has played it straight. And, he has avoided high-profile, controversial cases. While, yes, anything could happen, there is simply nothing on the radar screen that would encourage any reasonable person that the Bill Clinton last-minute craziness will ensue.

Today, Gregory Korte of USA Today tweets:
On a commutation for Blagojevich, Obama tells @CarolMarin: "On some of these high-profile cases, we'll see what gets to my desk."
Of course, the language is just Delphic enough to hold up on the flight to Vegas. Does he mean what "gets to" his desk formally? after going through the process? Or does he mean "get to" his desk by whatever pathway there is to his desk?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Obama's Thanksgiving Opportunity

As we approach Thanksgiving and the classically annoying turkey pardoning exercise, we remind the President that he has a very excellent opportunity to do something smart, right, appropriate and perfectly befitting his legacy of concern re second chances, rehabilitation and the harsh effects of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. He could grant a posthumous pardon to the great American short story writer O. Henry.

There are other requests for posthumous pardons floating around (Jack Johnson, Marcus Garvey, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, etc.), and every case is different. But O. Henry's case is substantively, categorically different from all of the others. The other requests feature numerous elements of controversy. The White House will find itself having to defend those pardons.

Not so in the case of O. Henry. The President quoted O. Henry one Thanksgiving. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating what would have been O. Henry's 150th birthday. And with good reason. O. Henry lived such an exemplary (and accomplished) life after his conviction that most people (including his own daughter) had no idea he had ever spent time in prison. When the word got out -  after his death - many assumes he was innocent all along. Thus, the Editor of this blog has, once again, filed a formal application for posthumous pardon with the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

You can read the cover letter to the O. Henry application here.
You can read the O. Henry pardon application here.
O. Henry's offense is described here.
And, most importantly, the several reasons why President Obama should grant a posthumous pardon to O. Henry are enumerated here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Add Meaningful Pardon of O. Henry to Dumb Turkey Pardons

September 23, 2016
Robert A. Zauzmer, U.S. Pardon Attorney
Office of the Pardon Attorney
4th Floor, 500 First Street, N.W.
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Robert,

Enclosed, you will find a formal application for the posthumous pardon of William Sydney Porter (O. Henry). The perfect time for this grant would be Thanksgiving, 2016.

It is my understanding that, in the past, other persons have made informal inquiries re the possibility of such a pardons but did not file a formal application and were met with the Department of Justice’s once traditional negative stance on posthumous pardoning.

Unlike other attempts at obtaining posthumous pardons, this application 1) makes considerable effort to show - empirically - that the intended recipient would have probably been considered well-deserving of clemency had he but applied in his own day and 2) that he is an excellent example of the kind of offender that President Obama has reached out to - in historically impressive ways - with commutations of sentence and the Department of Justice’s Clemency Project 2014 initiative.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Posthumous Pardon for Jack Johnson. NO.

William C. Rhoden of the New York Times asks, "Why is the United States still afraid of Jack Johnson?" The questions certainly answers itself. Most Americans have no idea whatsoever who he is referring to. The answer:
Since 2004, McCain, other lawmakers and the filmmaker Ken Burns have campaigned for an executive pardon for Johnson, who became boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, in 1908 ... In 1913, the federal government succeeded where a bevy of white fighters had failed when an all­ white jury convicted Johnson of transporting a white girlfriend across state lines, under the Mann Act, a measure designed to stop the proliferation of immigrant prostitution. He served 366 days in prison. Johnson was railroaded because he was a powerful, independent man who insisted on living his life his way, stepping outside the boundaries set for him by society. 
Now, as the Obama administration has denied / failed to act on clemency applications like few others, McCain and other law makers want a posthumous pardon to be granted to the long dead Johnson. Rhoden does not base his own support for a pardon on specific concerns about an unfair trial as he does that fact that Johnson was hated by people who hated him. And he (Rhoden) assumes that all of the hatred directed toward Johnson was based on his race - a disconcerting accusation which quickly dies in the face of even casual knowledge of Johnson's "lifestyle."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Delaware: Pardons!

DelawareOnline reports Gov. Jack Markell "has signed 1,569 pardons during his six-plus years in office, more than any other Delaware governor." Data suggest the record of previous governors is as follows:

1977-1984, Du Pont: 238 grants, 39 denials
1985-1992, Castle: 382 grants, 17 denials
1993-2000, Carper: 675 grants, 123 denials
2001-2008: Miner: 940 grants, 82 denials
2009/2014, Markell: 1339 grants, 887 denials

Since 1950, "the board has recommended pardons for about 85 percent of 4,800 applicants. Governors have granted 93 percent of the board-approved bids." It is reported that "the vast majority" of Markell's pardons were given to "people with minor offenses" but some went to "criminals with serious felonies. The News Journal is concerned that the state "doesn't track the progress of those who have received pardons" and "has no system to follow whether a person who receives a pardon commits another crime."

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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pardon O. Henry!

The Editor has sent the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Department of Justice) a second formal application for the posthumous pardon of O. Henry. The application and related materials can now be viewed on the right column of this blog. The application contains the following cover letter:

Dear Mr. Rodgers,

Enclosed you will find a formal application for the posthumous pardon of the great American short-story writer, O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). O. Henry’s well-known reputation is such that President Obama recently quoted him, at an annual public event held at the White House, and the U.S. Postal Service has issued a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of his birth. As the enclosed application also notes, the very courtroom where O. Henry was once convicted is now named in his honor.

In your letter of September 20, 2012, you note that, in 1985, the Office of the Pardon Attorney “declined a previous request” for posthumous pardon and that you are “not inclined” to take a “contrary position.” You explain this disinclination as the by-product of a “well settled policy” of the Justice Department not to accept applications for posthumous pardon because “the time and efforts of clemency officials are better dedicated to the clemency requests of living persons.” A casual review of the acting pardon attorney’s 1985 decision suggests, however, that you would be well justified (if not outright prudent) in developing such an inclination or - at a minimum - substantively revisiting his position.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Obama to Pardon Sandi Jackson?

Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun Times has this to offer:
The hottest rumor to come down the political pike: Speculation President Barack Obama may pardon former Ald. Sandi Jackson before he leaves office in January 2017.
So, just like that, another candidate for our patented Pardon Watch List !

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":

- Clarence Aaron (drug conviction)
Stephen Lee Arrington (cocaine trafficking)
- ACORN (voter fraud)
- Weldon Angelos (marijuana) 
- Jim Black (corruption) 
Barry Bonds (obstruction of justice) 
- Randall "Duke" Cunningham (bribery, tax law violations)
- Edwin Edwards (racketerring), released
- Katie Hall (mail fraud)
- Dan Hanks (quite the rap sheet!)
- Ron Isley (tax evasion)
- William Jefferson (bribery, corruption)
- Jesse Jackson, Jr. (plea)
- Sandi Jackson (plea)
- Jack Johnson (violation of Mann Act) not looking good
- Marion Jones (steroids) 
- John Walker Lindh (terrorism)
- Bradley Manning (espionage)
Chris McNair (bribery)
- Michael Milken (junk bond king)
- Serena Nunn (sentence commuted by Clinton)
- Leonard Peltier (double murder)
- O. Henry (embezzlement)  
- Jonathan Pollard (spying)  
- Tony Rezko (corruption) a "spokesman" has said it will not happen
- George Ryan (corruption), released 
- Michael G. Santos (cocaine distribution)   
- Richard Scrushy (bribery)
- Don Siegelman (trading favors for contributions)
- Wesley Snipes (income tax evasion)
- Edward Snowden
- Martha Stewart (conspiracy)
- Michael Vick (conspiracy to operate interstate dogfighting ring)
- Mark E. Whitacre (wire fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering)

- Chris Williams (drugs)

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.

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." 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Johnson v. O. Henry: One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Harry Reid, John McCain, William "Mo" Cowan and Rep. Peter King are back at it again. Today, they have called on the President to pardon the late boxing champion Jack Johnson.

Reid argues Johnson was a "legendary competitor who defined an era of American boxing and raised the bar for all American athletics." McCain says the pardon would be a way of "celebrating [Johnson's] legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance.” Cowan says Johnson was "one of the great African-American athletes." King says Johnson was a "trailblazer and a legend."

But, more than all that, the members of Congress argue Johnson was "unjustly tarnished by a racially-motivated criminal conviction" and a posthumous pardon would be a "small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law." In addition to being the victim of "racial persecution," Jackson was convicted via "unjust laws."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obama: The Watch List

December is almost here. 1 out of every 2 pardons and commutations of sentence over the last 39 years has been granted in the month of December. Word is that only a small pile of clemency recommendations has escaped the ubiquitous "NO" stamp of the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Although it appears that NO ONE has much of a chance of benefiting from federal executive clemency, here is a list of 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":

- Clarence Aaron (drug conviction)
Stephen Lee Arrington (cocaine trafficking)
- ACORN (voter fraud)
- Weldon Angelos (marijuana) 
- Jim Black (corruption) 
Barry Bonds (obstruction of justice) 
- Randall "Duke" Cunningham (bribery, tax law violations)
- Edwin Edwards (racketerring) application rejected by Bush
- Katie Hall (mail fraud)
- Dan Hanks (quite the rap sheet!)
- Ron Isley (tax evasion)
- William Jefferson (bribery, corruption)
- Jesse Jackson, Jr. (under investigation)
- Jack Johnson (violation of Mann Act) not looking good
- Marion Jones (steroids) 
- John Walker Lindh (terrorism)
- Kenny Lumpkin (crack offense)
Chris McNair (bribery)
- Michael Milken (junk bond king)
- Serena Nunn (sentence commuted by Clinton)
- Leonard Peltier (double murder)
- O. Henry (embezzlement)  
- Jonathan Pollard (spying)  
- Tony Rezko (corruption) a "spokesman" has said it will not happen
- George Ryan (corruption)  
- Michael G. Santos (cocaine distribution)   
- Richard Scrushy (bribery)
- Don Siegelman (trading favors for contributions)
Wesley Snipes (income tax evasion)
- Martha Stewart (conspiracy)
- Michael Vick (conspiracy to operate interstate dogfighting ring)
- Mark E. Whitacre (wire fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering)

- Chris Williams (drugs)

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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oregon: Mercy? I Don't Want No Stinkin' Mercy!

The Associated Press reports that Gov. John Kitzhaber has blocked Gary Haugen's execution with a "reprieve" (or a delay). While such decisions are not particularly rare, this one has an interesting twist to it: Haugen (a twice-convicted murderer) did not ask for the delay, and does not want it! The lack of interest on Haugen's part is consistent with the fact that he has "voluntarily waived legal appeals that could delay his execution for years and has fought to speed his punishment in protest of a criminal justice system that he says is broken." The Governor ... agrees! Yes, the Governor believes capital punishment laws are "compromised and inequitable."

Haugen's attorney says the governor's delay has placed an "onerous condition" his client, who now sits on "death row," unsure as to whether or not he will ever actually be executed! The horror! The attorney also argues that a reprieve "is not effective until accepted by the recipient" and Haugen has choosen not to accept. Finally, it is argued that the reprieve is "illegal" because it has "no specific expiration date."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Watch List 2012: Some Modifications

Some modifications to our Pardon Watch List for 2012. We remove John Edwards and add Stephen Arrington. Please no betting. 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":

- Clarence Aaron (drug conviction)
Stephen Lee Arrington (cocaine trafficking)
- ACORN (voter fraud)
- Weldon Angelos (marijuana) 
- Jim Black (corruption) 
Barry Bonds (obstruction of justice) 
- Randall "Duke" Cunningham (bribery, tax law violations)
- Edwin Edwards (racketerring) application rejected by Bush
- Katie Hall (mail fraud)
- Dan Hanks (quite the rap sheet!)
- Ron Isley (tax evasion)
- William Jefferson (bribery, corruption)
- Jesse Jackson, Jr. (plea)
- Jack Johnson (violation of Mann Act) not looking good
- Marion Jones (steroids) 
- John Walker Lindh (terrorism)
Chris McNair (bribery)
- Michael Milken (junk bond king)
- Serena Nunn (sentence commuted by Clinton)
- Leonard Peltier (double murder)
- O. Henry (embezzlement)  
- Jonathan Pollard (spying)  
- Tony Rezko (corruption) a "spokesman" has said it will not happen
- George Ryan (corruption)  
- Michael G. Santos (cocaine distribution)   
- Richard Scrushy (bribery)
- Don Siegelman (trading favors for contributions)
Wesley Snipes (income tax evasion)
- Martha Stewart (conspiracy)
- Michael Vick (conspiracy to operate interstate dogfighting ring)
- Mark E. Whitacre (wire fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering)

- Chris Williams (drugs)

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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Delaware: Pardoned Mayoral Candidate

Delaware Online reports The Rev. Derrick "Pastor D" Johnson's candidacy for mayor has been rejected by the state's Department of Justice because criminal convictions prevent him from holding office under the Delaware Constitution. Johnson was actually fully and unconditionally pardoned for his nine felonies (including a fatal shooting and a bank robbery) by Gov. Jack Markell way back in 2009. See story here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Pardon Watch List, 2012

OK, here is our first run of the Pardon Watch List for 2012. Please no betting. 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":

- Clarence Aaron (drug conviction)
- ACORN (voter fraud)
- Weldon Angelos (marijuana) 
- Jim Black (corruption) 
Barry Bonds (obstruction of justice) 
- Randall "Duke" Cunningham (bribery, tax law violations)
- Edwin Edwards (racketerring) application rejected by Bush
- John Edwards (illegal use of campaign funds)
- Katie Hall (mail fraud)
- Dan Hanks (quite the rap sheet!)
- Ron Isley (tax evasion)
- William Jefferson (bribery, corruption)
- Jack Johnson (violation of Mann Act) not looking good
- Marion Jones (steroids) 
- John Walker Lindh (terrorism)
Chris McNair (bribery)
- Michael Milken (junk bond king)
- Leonard Peltier (double murder)

- O. Henry (embezzlement)  
- Jonathan Pollard (spying)  
- Tony Rezko (corruption) a "spokesman" has said it will not happen
- George Ryan (corruption)  
- Michael G. Santos (cocaine distribution)   
- Richard Scrushy (bribery)
- Don Siegelman (trading favors for contributions)
Wesley Snipes (income tax evasion)
- Martha Stewart (conspiracy)
- Michael Vick (conspiracy to operate interstate dogfighting ring)
- Mark E. Whitacre (wire fraud, tax fraud, and 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, January 5, 2012

Delaware: Call for Clemency

The following is being released by RobertGattisClemency.com:

Prominent individuals from across Delaware and the Tri-State area today called on the Delaware Board of Pardons to recommend and Governor Jack Markell to grant clemency to Robert Gattis. Mr. Gattis is scheduled to be executed on January 20, 2012 for the killing of his former girlfriend, Shirley Slay. He seeks to have his death sentence commuted to a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Letters urging clemency were delivered to the Board of Pardons and the Governor today from twenty-five former judges and prosecutors, 73 faith leaders, and numerous mental health and legal professionals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top Ten Google Responses: "Obama Should Pardon ..."

As of today, here are the Top Ten Google responses to the search string "Obama should pardon ..."

10. Mumia Abu-Jamal
9. Michael Phelps
8. George W .Bush
7. Crack cocaine convicts
6. People (as opposed to turkeys)
5. Bradley Manning
4. Tom DeLay
3. Lil Wayne
2. Jack Johnson

and the number one Google reponse to the search string "Obama should pardon ..." is:

1. CIA Interrogators

Sunday, August 21, 2011

OPA on Posthumous Pardons and Marcus Garvey

The Jamaica Observer reports that Presidnet Obama has "flatly rejected" a request for a posthumous presidential pardon for "Jamaica's first national hero," Marcus Mosiah Garvey (see our writing on Garvey's story here). The report says Florida-based Jamaican-born attorney Donovan Parker "has been writing to president Obama every week since January requesting a posthumous pardon for Garvey." The Sunday Observer acquired a copy of one such letter as well as the "first ever" reply from the White House."

The reply, actually from White House Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers says:
"It is the general policy of the Department of Justice that requests for posthumous pardons for federal offences not be processed for adjudication. The policy is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on pardon and commutation requests of living persons.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Watch List: A Not So Impressive Plea

In the New York Times, Diane McWhortier, an author, makes a not-so-subtle (or impressive) argument that Chris McNair is deserving of federal executive clemency - a presidential pardon. McNair was convicted on 11 federal counts of bribery and conspiracy and received a 5-year prison sentence. He was also ordered to make restitution of more than $800,000 for the bribes.

Why is he deserving of clemency?

McWhortier argues McNair is a "symbol of the civil rights struggle" because, almost a half a century ago, his 11-year-old daughter died when the KKK bombed a Baptist Church. Says McWhortier:
Mr. McNair’s fall from grace violates the redemption narrative on which our national mythology has thrived since Lincoln consecrated the Civil War dead at Gettysburg: the belief that our tragic racial past can be converted into “a new birth of freedom.”
Or, for those less philosophical:
The pressures of destiny can sometimes cause presumptive saviors to balk or to stumble. 
For those readers still scratching their heads, McWhortier goes on to explain that McNair's legal defense sounded "too implausible" in her own mind, "to be totally untrue" in his own mind. And she claims that,"however dubious the ethics" of McNair's "relationships" were, "they were not without some socially redeeming benefit" because they "stormed one of the most resistant citadels of segregation: the dining-room table." This is all not to mention a possible "unconscious motive" for Mr. McNair’s "guiltless if not shameless acceptance of the contractors’ favors: The city owed him a debt." And, just when you might think a shabby argument could not get worse, McWhortier writes:
On the matter of clemency our first black president is not likely to be an easy touch. Mr. Obama has declined, for example, to issue a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the black boxing champion subjected to government prosecution a century ago because of his affairs with white women — notwithstanding that the Congressional resolution urging the pardon (passed in 2009 and re-introduced this past May) was sponsored by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York.
God help Mr. McNair if his character and reputation, and suitability for pardon, are no better than the long-dead, whore-mongering, wife beating Jack Johnson! See editorial here.

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