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December 3, 2009

Mike Huckabee continues to defend his clemency actions

As detailed in this new CNN piece, Mike Huckabee continues to aggressively defend his clemency decision-making in the Clemmons case despite the aggressive attacks in the wake of Clemmons horrible crimes last week.  Here is one notable quote from Huckabee after a reporter got in his face about the decision:

"I read a stack this thick," Huckabee said, holding his hands several inches apart. "I looked at the file. Every bit of it. And here was a case where a guy had been given 108 years. Now, if you think a 108-year sentence is an appropriate sentence for a 16-year-old for the crimes he committed, then you should run for governor of Arkansas."

In addition, as reported here on Politico, in an interview on The View, Huckabee has essentially called out chief executives who fail to ever grant clemency and has rightfully invoked the Framers in support of his pro-clemency instincts:

“The easy thing to do, and frankly the politically expedient thing to do, is to say no to every last one of them. That’s the easy thing. And you’ll always cover your rear end if you do that. Because nobody will ever say, ‘Oh you should have let these people out.’

“But the reason we have executive clemency in our system of justice is because there are sentences that are disproportionate, there are times when the justice system failed.  And our Founding Fathers were smart enough to create checks and balances, so that no one branch of government was able to act independently of the other two."

You go, Mike!  It is great to hear Huckabee stick to his principles in discussing clemency even in the wake of the Clemmons tragedy.  (Now I am just disappointed that the person who won the presidency in 2008 is not as vocal and passionate about these matters as this person who failed in his run for the presidency.)

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Comments

If everyone who knows or examined the person is has a single opinion, why not listen? Everyone who knew or examined him opposed release. Huckabee had reliable scienter, and intentionally loosed this paranoid sociopath. The knowledge makes the clemency almost a crime. He took no care to protect the public, in the face of universal opposition to clemency.

That is what negligent clemency would seek to remedy, to deter.

To repeat, this is one factor in the cluster of factors resulting in the tragedy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2009 4:05:56 PM

"You go, Mike."

I do not think that has sarcasm in it. It it straight cheerleading. I hope I am wrong, but there is cheerleading for a horrendous mistake resulting in the deaths of 5 people. The left has such a blind loyalty to rent seeking, and the jobs generated by the criminal, that extreme tragedies and bereavement do not have any effect on their heartless ideology.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2009 4:12:09 PM

"You go Mike." There needs to be a cheerleader to encourage a man who puts his honest beliefs ahead of politics. I usually vote democratic but I have to say Mike Huckabee seems to be one of the only politicians who speak what they really believe, even in the face of a media and other politicians who would love to ruin him, just to score points in their own careers.

Posted by: DLJ | Dec 3, 2009 4:47:02 PM

"Everyone who knew or examined him opposed release."

Uh, that's not correct. Do you read the newspaper? The Akansas Parole Board unanimously recommended commutation, as did a state circuit judge, who said the consecutive sentences Clemmons received were unjustified. And, the Board then unanimously voted to grant him parole.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 3, 2009 4:49:23 PM

I'll second the "You go Mike." The murders were a tragedy, but everything Mr. Huckabee is saying is absolutely correct. People should be more outraged at the Washington courts for granting him bail rather than questioning Huckabee granting him the ability to be paroled. Bail never should have been granted in his Washington case.

Posted by: DEJ | Dec 3, 2009 5:09:47 PM

"You go Mike."

I'll never be lucky enough to have Mike Huckabee as the spokesman for clemency.

I also notice that Huckabee's "justification" is absurd on its face. He says 108 years was disproportionate for a 16 year-old. OK, Mike, does that mean you have to zap ALL OF IT?

He could have zapped, say, 80 years. That would have reduced the sentence by more than three-quarters. If he had stopped at that -- i.e., if he had shown any restraint whatever -- the four police officers would be alive today.

For any Democrats who want Mike Huckabee -- take him! Please!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 3, 2009 7:09:02 PM

Those criminal dependent bodies, approving commutation, also contradicted the advice of everyone who knew or examined him. They engaged in wrongheaded, negligent clemency, and should be made to pay. There should be exemplary damages to the extent it can be shown they had knowledge, and disregarded the safety of the public. They took almost no care to protect the public safety.

He committed many other crimes before the murders. Those victims should be compensated for the carelessness or lack of any care of these criminal dependent, pro-criminal, biased groups.

Their self-dealt immunity from liability is unjust and outrageous. It is a form of corruption.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2009 7:24:33 PM

The police officers death is a tragedy and my hearts go out to the families and community. However if Huckabee is runs for the highest job in the United States he will receive my vote. He is someone that I think America can trust. It takes courage to grant pardons/clemency and that is exactly what Huckabee has!! Not like the past two Governors of North Carolina who lack that courage.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 3, 2009 10:19:29 PM

Excuse me Mr. Otis and I will stand corrected if wrong but as I read it Huck reduced a 108 year sentence to 47 years, a reduction of 61 years. You would have ok'd an 80 reduction if he had stopped there? Looks like Huck is about 19 years to the good by your calculations. It was the parole board that let him out and thank goodness for the sanity of a few on this site. Kudos to the professor, DEJ, Anon, DLJ. As I said on a previous post, a conservative can't win. He's damned by liberals for being "tough on crime" and damned by left and right when he does the right thing on the advice of all of the "experts". How wonderful is your 20/20 hindsight.

Posted by: HadEnough | Dec 3, 2009 10:39:05 PM

HadEnough --

"How wonderful is your 20/20 hindsight."

It's better than taking a gamble on freeing a violent criminal in order for him to be able to gush about how "compassionate" he is.

I'd have more respect for his "compassion" if he, instead of four unsuspecting police, paid the price for his error. But that's not exactly the way it worked out.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 3, 2009 11:12:45 PM

The many problems with Huckabee:

1) IMMEDIATE RELEASE: From what I have read, it appears that Huckabee knew that his commutation of Clemmons' 108 year sentence to 47 years made Clemmons' immediately available for release. Has Huckabee ever acknowledged that? Governors know about good time and early release policies and have advisors that keep them up to date on what their decisions will mean.

2) BAD JUDGEMENT: Not once has Gov. Huckabee said the jury was right and I, the judge and the parole board were wrong. The unchallenged fact is that the jury was right and all those involved with his release were wrong. Had the wisdom of the jury been followed, this discussion would not be necessary.

3) READING THE FUTURE: GOV. HUCKABEE WINES: "I can't read the future. I wish I could." I consider this the most dishonest of Huckabee's defenses. Governors, parole boards and all of us, even remotely involved in criminal justice know that the confirmable rate of recidivism, from early releases, are in the 60-80% range and that reoffense rates are higher. The horrific failures in early release are as numerous as the drops of blood shed because of them. Huckabee knew this, well. Don't we all?

It is safe to say that the jury did read the future, as did others, who say, now, they were opposed to this early release.

Gov. Huckabee, Christian mercy should be shared with the innocent, as well as with the guilty. Christian mercy requires rational considerations based upon all of the information before you, not a blind eye.

No, Huckabee could not predict the exact future in the Clemmons case. Yet, he, absolutely, did know the horror that some of his decisions would reign over the innocent.

4) MAN UP: Huckabee has not once stated this reality: Had I not commuted his sentence, two children would not have been raped and four police officers would be preparing a Merry Christmas with their families, instead of rotting in the ground. My mercy wrought misery.

5) CLASSIC TALE: All of Huckabee's criticisms of all of the other failures in the criminal justice system in this case are true and it is a story repeated over and over again, in every system in the world. Huckabee is also a classic tale - a chief executive that doesn't have the character to say "The buck stops here".

Yep, you go Mike!

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 4, 2009 6:25:26 AM

There was a dispute about whether to accept the multiple convictions in another state as third strikes in Washington. Someone has to explain to me if a criminal verdict is exempt from the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the constitution. Where is this exemption written and how is it justified?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 4, 2009 6:26:06 AM

Dudley: "Huckabee has not once stated this reality: Had I not commuted his sentence, two children would not have been raped and four police officers would be preparing a Merry Christmas with their families, instead of rotting in the ground"

me: why would state that? You might as well state "had Clemmons's mother had an abortion" - but let me guess, you are one of those "pro-lifers" who opposes abortion due to a general opposition of women's rights but loves the death penalty because it makes you feel like a real man to kill a defenseless person.

Huckabee is way more of a man that you and those other pro-death penalty, pro-throw away the key and lock them up forever cowards criticizing him will ever be.

While I was dismayed at Huckabee's initial tepid response, he is finally showing some actual courage in defending executive clemency in the face of overblown and misguided opposition :)

Posted by: virginia | Dec 4, 2009 10:01:27 AM

Ginny --

"Huckabee is way more of a man that you and those other pro-death penalty, pro-throw away the key and lock them up forever cowards criticizing him will ever be."

A bit over the top, wouldn't you say?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 4, 2009 10:26:19 AM

I'd like to see virginia be a man and tell that to the cops' families.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 4, 2009 10:32:36 AM

Virginia:

This was a leadership moment for Huckabee. He failed.

He should have said:

"I screwed up and this will haunt me for the rest of my days. I take full responsibility. Had I not commuted, this never would have happened. Four police officers would be alive today, hugging their families and two children would not have been raped. I can't take it back, I can't erase the horror that has occurred but I can help to reduce such tragedies in the future. All Governors and parole boards make huge mistakes in early release. We all know that. We must do better and we can. We must have mercy for the innocent, as well."


Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 4, 2009 12:20:44 PM

Virginia:

What Huckabee is finally doing is called damage control. It is only necessary because he lacked all leadership skills at the beginning, when they were needed and tested.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Dec 4, 2009 12:23:58 PM

"It's better than taking a gamble on freeing a violent criminal in order for him to be able to gush about how "compassionate" he is."

Mr. Otis, was Huckabee "gushing" then or now? Reference please and you are still basing your judgment of his actions on 20/20 hindsight.

Just wondering if anyone knows if, nine years ago, this issue was even a blip on the radar screen of most of the people of Arkansas and what "political gain" was derived from it. No one outside Arkansas even knew who Mike Huckabee was and he was already Governor so what was to be gained?

Posted by: HadEnough | Dec 4, 2009 1:08:30 PM

bill: "A bit over the top, wouldn't you say?"

me: maybe. I might have distracted from my main point.

federalist: "I'd like to see virginia be a man and tell that to the cops' families"

me: silly federalist, women don't play the "who's larger" game - they only act as judges. did you not pay attention in biology? :P

Now please stop making defend Huckabee! ;)

Ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Dec 4, 2009 4:31:27 PM

HadEnough --

"Mr. Otis, was Huckabee 'gushing' [about his compassion] then or now?"

Both. But now he's really outdoing himself.

BTW, that's an interesting monicker you have there. Have you "had enough" of cops getting gunned down by people who should not have been in a position to do it? Or have you just had enough of the cops?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 4, 2009 4:34:24 PM

No Mr. Otis, just HadEnough of a terribly broken justice system and people who perpetuate it with their pontificating, evasion of the questions and misplaced blame for the ills of the world purely because, in this case for example, you, and others in this thread, just don't like Huckabee's politics and take any opportunity to pound him with your 20/20 hindsight advantage.

I'll ask again, how would you suggest that he should have handled the situation? What would you have him, as the Governor/CEO of a state do? Go out and interview all of the players himself? There are not enough hours in the day. I think that you will find very few Governors or for that matter the President, when and if he ever gets off of his ass and grants clemency to anyone, that doesn't depend very heavily if not completely on the recommendations of staff and all of the major players in this case, trial judge, parole office, etc. recommended the action that was taken. Is this any different that a federal court judge basing a sentence solely on the recommendations of self serving federal prosecutor written into a Pre-Sentencing Report by a low level probation officer? Not much and if you try to say that does not happen you are completely out of touch with reality.

If it can be said that Huckabee did this for purely political reasons, and I have seen no conclusive evidence of this, then I guess it would also be fair to say that those of you who choose to follow the Yellow Brick Road all the way back to Huckabee and ignore all of the other players who had ample opportunity, starting only seven months after the commutation of his sentence, to take this person off of the street are also using this situation for political reasons. What are you gaining?

Posted by: HadEnough | Dec 5, 2009 11:13:01 AM

HadEnough --

"No Mr. Otis, just HadEnough of a terribly broken justice system and people who perpetuate it with their pontificating, evasion of the questions and misplaced blame for the ills of the world..."

Does your discontent extend to defense counsel who obtain erroneous acquittals by misleading the jury or by succeeding in suppressing evidence of the defendant's behavior?

"I'll ask again, how would you suggest that he should have handled the situation? What would you have him, as the Governor/CEO of a state do?"

Deny clemency until it is established with a high degree of probability that the clemency applicant will henceforth lead a law-abiding life. Unlike you, I am unwilling to foist off on the unsuspecting public the potentially (and in this instance, actually) lethal consequences of errors I might make. Errors cannot entirely be avoided, but they are less likely and will be less frequent with more exacting standards for clemency than were anywhere to be seen in this case.

"...if you try to say that does not happen you are completely out of touch with reality."

I'm enough in touch with reality to use my actual name here and thus stand behind what I say, unlike you, who tosses his insults from behind the cover of anonymity.

P.S. The fact that persons other than Huckabee were also in part responsible for Clemmons' release does not in any way excuse Huckabee from his role in it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 7, 2009 2:57:20 PM

Mr. Otis, get off of your high horse. How do you establish with a high degree of probability "that the clemency applicant will henceforth lead a law-abiding life." Not only do you have 20/20 hindsight, you now seem to also have a crystal ball for looking into the future.

My discontent has nothing to do with the parties that you mention, only with those who attack the actions of others only for political reasons. Huckabee is not asking to be excused, read the professor's new post on the subject. Quote "I take responsibility for my actions, but not for the actions of others, nor for the misinformed words of commentators." "I wish Maurice Clemmons' file had never crossed my desk. But it did. The decision I made is one I now wish could have been made with a view into the future." "The system and those of us who are supposed to make sure it works sometimes get it wrong. In this case, we clearly did."

Insults? I think not, just commentary and my name is of no consequence here nor is yours. Would your position change using another name? Neither would mine. Could it be that your real problem is that you feel guilty for taking the wrong side on this one? It's ok, Huck is a forgiving person, or so I'm told.

Posted by: HadEnough | Dec 7, 2009 8:15:00 PM

HadEnough --

1. I asked whether your discontent extends to defense counsel who obtain erroneous acquittals by misleading the jury or by succeeding in suppressing evidence of the defendant's behavior. You don't give a direct answer, but suggest that you are not discontent with that.

Why not? Erroneous acquittals don't bother you?

2. "How do you establish with a high degree of probability "that the clemency applicant will henceforth lead a law-abiding life."

Not my problem. I'm not in the clemency business. But it is most certainly the problem of those who are, since their errors can have catastrophic results. That these results do not concern you is not a reason to take a pass on thinking carefully about how to avoid them.

3. "My discontent has nothing to do with the parties that you mention, only with those who attack the actions of others only for political reasons. Huckabee is not asking to be excused, read the professor's new post on the subject."

a. I have no political interest in Huckabee. He wasn't going to be the nominee before this and he isn't going to be now.

b. The non-excuse excuse, like the non-denial denial, has become old hat in this town. Its most adroit practitioner was Mr. Huckabee's predecessor. If you're falling for it, that's your choice.

4. "...my name is of no consequence here nor is yours."

That's true as far as it goes. But the willingness to use one's name as a marker of willingness to take responsibility for what one says most certainly IS of consequence.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 7, 2009 8:46:45 PM

Mr. Bill Otis, OR, sometimes the prideful use their name every chance they get because they think it will impress somebody. It don't impress me. I think you should sign your name BO.

Posted by: DLJ | Dec 9, 2009 11:47:41 AM

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