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September 12, 2005

A new day for capital clemency?

During the holiday period last year, the papers and this blog were buzzing about the modern disuse of  historic executive clemency powers (see, e.g., posts here and here).  However, noteworthy decisions by governors in Indiana and Ohio are leading to an insightful examination of whether we may be starting to see the dawning of a new day for the exercise of clemency, at least in capital cases.

From Indiana, this clemency conversation is prompted by the recent decision by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to commute the death sentence of Arthur Baird and previous commutations by former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan (basic details here).  A thoughtful analysis of these developments in this newspaper article explores why "today, governors seem to have more latitude to spare the lives of some condemned killers and execute others without incurring the wrath of voters, large numbers of whom still support capital punishment."

From Ohio, the clemency conversation is prompted by Ohio Governor Bob Taft's decision to delay John Spirko's execution because of questions surrounding whether prosecutors presented inaccurate information at his clemency hearing.  A thoughtful analysis in this AP article explores whether this decision could have a broader impact on capital cases, although many express doubt that "Taft's decision will echo beyond Spirko."

September 12, 2005 at 12:04 PM | Permalink


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