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December 8, 2008

Who do you want President Bush to pardon?

I am in DC today for an ABA event and so may be off-line most of the day.  While I am away, perhaps everyone use the comments to join the Washington Times is creating a pardon wish-list for President Bush.  In this editorial, headlined "Whom shall Bush Pardon?," the Times has a few specifics clemency suggestions for the out-going President:

In his last weeks in office, President Bush has an opportunity to redress the scales of justice for a few individuals who were harshly punished and some who never should have been prosecuted.  In the former category is press baron Conrad Black, whose sentence Mr. Bush should commute.  In the latter category is Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, whom the president should pardon. In both categories are Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, who deserve both a pardon and commutation.

December 8, 2008 at 07:34 AM | Permalink


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I recommend amnesty, similar to what Italy does, for All the women at Pekin FPC---back to their families and friends.
Women are in these camps because federal prosecutors labeled them drug dealers...because the fed. govt. can increase minimal amounts to what "could have been"... they're there, in these so-called work camps, providing endless jobs for the rural unenlightened...they're there though there was no violence whatever in their backgrounds, and, incredibly, as first-time offenders.

Their sentences are looong and sickening.

If the mighty deserve pardons, the women deserve amnesty.

Posted by: Fluffy | Dec 8, 2008 8:11:52 AM

President Bush should pardon or commute the 10-year sentence, nearly 4 years of which have already been served, of 80 year old Franklin Brown, ex-lawyer at Rite Aid Corp, who was wrongly convicted based on tampered tape evidence -- tapes made by the FBI -- that contain no virgin tape and have been edited, as testified to by nationally known forensic tape experts in an evidentiary hearing held years after the trial. Such a conviction should not stand. We now live in a police state where the FBI gets away with tampering tapes and destroying the real evidence, and covering over the real recordings with bogus, edited, false recordings.

Posted by: layperson | Dec 8, 2008 11:49:06 AM

Layperson, One of the reasons we don't like lay people is posts like yours.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 8, 2008 12:10:05 PM

The president should commute the sentences of all the non violent drug offenders who have been given lengthly sentences that have been found to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.

Posted by: Barbara Manzanares | Dec 8, 2008 12:36:25 PM

Person who calls himself Supreme Court of the United States, I'm curious why you write comments like this. Are you trying to appear satirically witty and not succeeding?

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Dec 8, 2008 1:28:53 PM

Barbara, by "non-violent drug offenders,"
do you include drug dealers, meth cooks, and
drug mules?

Posted by: Large County Prosecutor | Dec 8, 2008 1:33:18 PM

I agree with Kent about S.cotus. His continued disdain for lay members of the public is offensive and not in keeping with the spirit of this blog.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 8, 2008 2:06:16 PM

Patrick Lett.

Posted by: | Dec 8, 2008 4:04:35 PM

At least I come out and say it. Law is practiced by people that have high levels of education. And, not surprisingly, we mock lay people. Sure, when talking in a political area, we pretend that their views are worthy, but this is usually just to get votes and/or money from them. We don’t really care about their legal theories.

The Supreme Court issues opinions. They are posted on their website. Rather than tell them to read the opinions for themselves, there is a rush by lawyers that represent trendy politically-oriented clients to “summarize” them into soundbite that the lay people can easily repeat. Telling them about any nuances that might not be apparent is out of the question for most lawyers.

Now, let’s take a look at Layperson’s post. Would it be taken seriously in court? If it appeared in a brief would you actually take its argument seriously enough to warrant any research?

Would you, Kent, respond to the great argument that “we live in a police state” and that someone should be pardoned (after a trial) because the “FBI gets away with tampering tapes and destroying the real evidence, and covering over the real recordings with bogus, edited, false recordings.”

Or are we just supposed to believe that someone that can’t be bothered to go to law school has anything to contribute to the legal discourse?

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 8, 2008 4:22:53 PM

"And, not surprisingly, we mock lay people."

Why the plural? Are you claiming to speak for all lawyers? You most assuredly do not speak for me. Very few lawyers of my acquaintance mock lay people as a group.

"Now, let’s take a look at Layperson’s post. Would it be taken seriously in court?"

Red hot news flash: This blog is not a court.

"Would you, Kent, respond to the great argument that 'we live in a police state...'?"

If I chose to respond to "layperson's" post, it would be to respond to the statement, not to attack the person making it and certainly not to attack a whole group of people.

"Or are we just supposed to believe that someone that can’t be bothered to go to law school has anything to contribute to the legal discourse?"

Nonlawyers very often have something of value to say about the law and the legal system, e.g., Walter Olson.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Dec 8, 2008 4:50:43 PM

Just curious (as another one of those non-lawyers just layin around): Can Bush pardon himself in advance?

Posted by: | Dec 8, 2008 5:34:15 PM

Regarding the above post regarding Franklin Brown, there is a lengthy opinion (United States v. Brown, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13286 - Feb. 2008) which, after a four day evidentiary hearing, considered the allegations of FBI tampering with tapes and rejected those arguments.

I (a defense attorney) take no position on the merits of the issue, but merely point out the case citation for anyone who wants to read more about it.

Posted by: Webb Wassmer | Dec 8, 2008 5:54:19 PM

I don't "speak" for any group, and it is rather silly to think that I am claiming that I speak for all lawyers. I don't know if your kind mocks lay people in private or not, but the Victims' Rights Industry spends an awful lot of time writing soundbites for the lay people. Most of these things lack citations and rarely do they include the underlying source materials. This is the ultimate form of mocking.

Sometimes lay people are useful idiots, and they can, for a price, say things that appeal to other lay people that will help our clients' positions. But, it isn't as if they think on their own.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 8, 2008 10:44:16 PM

Thank you, "S.cotus," for giving me the second opportunity that I have ever had to agree with Kent S, in all the years he and I have known each other (professionally), filing amicus briefs on the opposite sides of issue after issue. Every word you wrote is so wrong and stupid that I can hardly believe you graduated (as you imply you did) from an institution of higher learning. It is too bad that Doug is just too darn nice to adopt a troll-banning policy for his blog.

Posted by: Peter G | Dec 8, 2008 11:01:59 PM

Peter, This is interesting. You don't respond to any of my arguments. You just insult. I am sorry that you feel that way.

Maybe we should start recruiting lay people as summer associates while we are at it and print the saying of Joe the Plumber in a law review article.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 9, 2008 12:43:52 AM

Peter, This is interesting. You don't respond to any of my arguments. You just insult. I am sorry that you feel that way.

Maybe we should start recruiting lay people as summer associates while we are at it and print the saying of Joe the Plumber in a law review article.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 9, 2008 12:44:29 AM

Again, person who affects the moniker "S.cotus," you are incorrect. I answered nearly everything you said, by saying that I agreed with Kent. Kent had already -- very patiently, rationally, and in a much kinder tone than I could have mustered -- responded to your gratuitously supercilious, arrogant, and inapt comments (or "arguments" as you describe them). The only thing Kent missed, I think, was this: Doug had asked folks to mention cases that might warrant Presidential clemency. He did not invite his commenters to make legal arguments about pending cases that might persuade an appellate panel. "Layperson" responded with comments about a case, as s/he understood that case, which might warrant clemency -- a ten-year prison sentence imposed on an 76-year-old nonviolent first offender (now 80), based on (allegedly) tampered evidence. You didn't respond at all to why such a case might not be one for clemency. In the field of logic, I believe your response to "layperson" would be assessed as an interweaving of the material fallacies of ignoratio elenchi and argumentum ad verecundiam.

Posted by: Peter G | Dec 9, 2008 10:31:35 AM

You have not responded to a single on of my points. This is probably because you can’t.

Look, if you want to argue that we respect the lay people, go ahead. I would love to hear a coherent argument made that the views of the lay people are taken seriously. I would love to hear someone argue that we are not a society divided by class and education, and argue that lawyers would never dream of taking advantage of others’ lack of education for their own ends. But you don’t. You insult.

Sometimes Kent makes coherent arguments. Sometimes he doesn’t. They can stand on their own.

My reason why should a case would not be grounds for clemency was that based on Layperson’s rant, the conviction should be vacated on the merits. (Assuming, of course, all is as he says it is.) And, he doesn’t explain what happens when the issues were raised in court.

Okay, getting back to the deeper actual criminal-justice related issues. Pardons are quite an extraordinary executive action. By pardoning someone, the president states that 1) the person was validly convicted by a court; and 2) there was some overriding executive policy that requires that he be pardoned. A pardon does not vacate a conviction. Only the courts can do that. We need to ask ourselves why it is that we are using executive policy-making as a substitute for actual legal decision-making.

Let’s take a better example. The border patrol agents. Personally I think they should serve their sentences. They killed a guy. They were convicted. Most of the people involved in convicting them had very impressive CVs. Good enough for me. The argument in favor of pardoning them is that, as I understand it, from time to time the executive should state that even people without impressive CVs that are charged with keeping out even less impressive people should be given some leeway if the executive thinks that the injured or dead guy really was not one of us. This is a nice policy argument and, in my view, a valid reason for pardoning someone.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 9, 2008 11:04:58 AM

S.cotus. There are two seperate issues here. The reason that the Presidential pardon power exists is because the president is the chief prosecutor in the land, in the same way that he is the Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces. As such, the President is ultimately responsible for whatever happens on his watch. As you correctly point out, a pardon is not a vacating of the conviction, rather it's an admission that the person should never have been prosecuted in the first place.

As for WHY a person should be pardoned, that up to the President. He can pardon someone because he likes the color of their hair or because they dated his sister. The President doesn't have to justify his decisions on this matter to you, to me, or to anyone else. I know it may be shocking to you, but the current President has already pardoned people and *he isn't even a lawyer* (gasp, keel over dead).

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 9, 2008 12:05:26 PM

My original question -- whether (1) "S.cotus" is really the boor he appears to be taking his comments at face value or (2) the comments are merely an inept attempt at satire -- has been answered.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Dec 9, 2008 12:48:51 PM

Former Police Officer, Mr. Bush should have Pardon the two US Border Patrols and the Deputy Sheriff who was almost killed when Mexicans tried to run him over with thier vehicle and he fired his weapon to defend himself. Mr. Bush does not like law enforcment officers because he was arrested for DWI in Maine. The reality is, he is still a drunk! He is the worst President we ever had. And he says he is going to write a book? Slow down Mr. Bush, you have had to many drinks!!!!!!!!!!!! Richard

Posted by: Richard Pelletier | Dec 23, 2008 3:07:51 PM

I am not a lawyer and likely never will be. I'm an Aerospace Engineer, and I work in R&D; that being said, I feel it necessary to address both sides of the above discourse. Without a doubt, education is an extremely important piece of "white-collar" jobs, and without it many of us would be unable to achieve so much in our fields. That being said, the PR side of the house (to which even the Supreme Court belongs) MUST effectively communicate its positions to those who are not lawyers (or engineers, in my case) as our work drives society. In the case of law, your work governs our lives to a great extent. I think it is natural for law-abiding citizens to feel the need to understand the law which governs them.

Posted by: Aero62 | Dec 23, 2008 4:38:36 PM

I would like to see the president pardon Sholom Rubashkin of Agriprocessors , who tirelessly helped thousands eat kosher and keep the prices low, he built a whole community in Iowa, helped so many people. Although he allegedly made mistakes, I am sure he will not do any of that again. He deserves to go out on bail, but the Judge claims that he is a flight risk because he is Jewish.... can you see where this is going? can he have a fair trial?

Give him the chance to rebuild Kosher in the supermarkets, and if he is really evil... he will do the same mistakes and then go to jail, but for now it would be a good gesture to the religious community to let him start anew.

Rabbi Joseph Y

Posted by: Joseph Y | Dec 24, 2008 2:11:24 AM

I'm a tax paying citizen who has met several persons who have been unjustly sentenced to too much time for a non-violent crime. Most of these persons are Black Americans. I would like to see Charles Dunn released on clemency. Rather it is a commutation or a pardon, this is a first time offender who was sentenced to 29 years based on testimony from convicted criminals & no physical evidence. I'm glad to see that the sentencing guidelines have changed recently. But allow the persons who the guideline doesn't apply some relief.

Posted by: Dion | Jan 4, 2009 4:08:33 PM

As one who S.cotus apparently deems incapable of making useful comments here (I'm a retired daily newspaper editor, not a lawyer), I nonetheless feel compelled to state what must be painfully obvious to any reasonably intelligent reader of this blog: S.cotus is a heartless douche bag...pure and simple...and, worse, he knows next to nothing about the criminal justice system.

Posted by: John K | Jan 20, 2009 11:25:39 PM

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