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January 21, 2007

Interesting federal focal point for pardon/clemency debate

As detailed here and in this topical index, I find legal and policy debates over executive clemency to be interesting, important and often under-developed.  Now, thanks to recent coverage at TalkLeft and the New York Times, I see that President Bush is getting some notable pardon pressure from his right flank.  Here are specifics from the NYT piece:

President Bush waded this week into the furor surrounding two former border patrol agents who were each convicted and sentenced to more than a decade in prison in the shooting of a suspected Mexican drug dealer in Texas.  The case has become something of a cause among some advocates for tougher border security, who argue that the agents should be pardoned because they were doing their jobs in 2005 when they fired on the man, an assertion that has been contested by the federal prosecutors overseeing the case.

In an interview with KFOX-TV in El Paso, Mr. Bush was asked on Thursday whether he would consider a pardon for the two former agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, who began serving their federal prison sentences of 11 years and 12 years respectively this week. "There are standards that need to be met in law enforcement, and according to a jury of their peers, these officers violated some standards," Mr. Bush said.  "On this case, people need to take a hard look at the facts, at the evidence that the jury looked at, as well as a judge. And that's — I will do the same thing."  "Now, there's a process for pardons," he continued. "I mean, it’s got to work its way through a system here in government. But I just want people to take a sober look at the reality. It's a case, as you said, it’s got a lot of emotions."

Some interpreted Mr. Bush's remarks to imply that he would consider a pardon for the two men. But Justice Department officials said on Friday that the two men were ineligible for consideration of a pardon at this time.  Requests for pardons, which are screened by the Justice Department before being considered by the White House, are not considered until at least five years after a petitioner has been convicted or released from jail or prison, according to the department’s guidelines.

Some posts on President Bush's clemency and pardon powers:

January 21, 2007 at 03:09 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The men aren't, of course, ineligible for pardon consideration; they are only ineligible for pardon consideration by the DOJ. President Bush can grant a pardon whenever he wants, even prior to conviction (Nixon).

Posted by: | Jan 23, 2007 3:46:24 PM

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Posted by: DFDF | Jul 29, 2007 1:12:54 AM

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