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December 10, 2004

Come all thee clemencies

The holiday season is a common time for clemency grants (and not just for turkeys), and the clemency news has been quite encouraging of late in at least a few states. 

As detailed in this Miami Herald story, just yesterday Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Clemency Board "made historic changes to Florida's troubled clemency system, easing rules that will restore civil rights to tens of thousands of former felons."  The Herald article appropriately highlights that this positive development appears to be a response to a recent series of Herald articles documenting severe problems in the state's clemency system (which can be accessed here).

Meanwhile, up the coast in Maryland, as detailed in this press release, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich late last month granted executive clemency to seven individuals.  This Baltimore Sun op-ed, authored by Maryland Law Professor Michael Millemann who represented one of the defendants receiving clemency, praises Governor Ehrlich for having the courage to "reaffirm the traditional 'clemency' role of Maryland's governor."

And, on the other side of the country, this Albuquerque Tribune article reports on the decision late last month by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to grant executive clemency to Janet Vigil, a battered woman sentenced to life in prison in 1989 after being convicted of murdering her husband.   The Tribune article include Governor Richardson's fascinating statement in support of this decision, in which he stresses that "Janet Vigil has already served nearly three times the average total prison time served by men convicted of a similar crime [and that new statements ] corroborate Ms. Vigil's trial testimony regarding allegations of domestic violence that led up to the shooting."

In posts here and here, I have previously discussed the reality that courts seem unlikely to deem Blakely retroactive, and thus executive clemency might be the appropriate (and perhaps only) means for defendants with final, Blakely-violative sentences to get relief.  It would be heartening to see a continued reinvigoration of historic clemency powers as one of the positive aftershocks of the Blakely earthquake.

December 10, 2004 at 12:10 PM | Permalink


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The comutation of Janet Vigil's sentence is a travesty of justice. I personally saw the so called medical records and none of it indicates abuse. These facts will be made public when we can pull them all together and post them on the web. Please be aware "Estevan Vigil" is the victim here and his family continues to be victimized by the old boy/gal network here in New Mexico. We will expose the truth and clear the name of the only victim here, Estevan Vigil.

Patti March
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Posted by: Patti March | Dec 13, 2004 4:49:27 PM

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