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February 1, 2012

Latest litigation news over controversial pardons in Mississippi

This local article, headlined "Justices may eye pardons; Attorney for former inmates hopes to halt nullification effort," reports on the basics of the brewing litigation over some of the controversial pardons that former Mississippi Gov Barbour issued on his way out of office.  Here is how the piece starts:

Attorneys on both sides of the battle over former Gov. Haley Barbour's pardons are criticizing each other for distracting from the central constitutional issue with unimportant, unsubstantiated claims.

Tom Fortner, the attorney for four of the five pardoned criminals who worked as trusties at the Governor's Mansion, filed a petition Monday asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to give immediate consideration to the case, through which the attorney general's office aims to overturn most of the 203 pardons Barbour granted during his two terms. A hearing is scheduled before Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green at 1 p.m. Friday.

Fortner hopes to stop Green from moving forward because he said it's not constitutional for a judge to review a governor's pardon power. If Green overturned the former trusties' pardons Friday, they could land back in prison. Fortner said Hood "doesn't understand constitutional separation of powers - and he doesn't want to understand it because if he does, he loses."

Attorney General Jim Hood leveled a similar charge against his legal adversaries in a news release Monday. "This is a sideshow by Tom Fortner and the former governor to divert attention from the fact that (Barbour) has loosed his favored murderers upon the public without any legal authority to do so," Hood said.

The constitution requires an applicant to publish a notice in a newspaper for 30 days before a pardon is granted. Whether those publications were handled properly is the basis for Hood's argument to overturn the pardons.

This is interesting litigation not only because of most courts' justifiable disinclination to take on cases concerning clemency powers, but also because a broad ruling in favor of the state AG against the pardoned defendants might possibly raise even some federal constitutional concerns that perhaps could be appealed to SCOTUS.

UPDATE:  This AP article reports that the "Mississippi Supreme Court said Wednesday it will take up the legal challenge to the pardons ex-Gov. Haley Barbour gave out in his last days in office." 

February 1, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Permalink


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well that's interesting!

"The case is unprecedented, Steffey said. It's a civil lawsuit, but five people have been ordered to remain in prison while others have been required to call corrections officials every day. Hood even sent his investigators all the way to Wyoming to serve a summons to convicted murderer Joseph Ozment, one of the former Governor's Mansion trusties."

wonder by what stretch of stupidity do they think they can enforce anything on this guy who left the state with what at the time was A LEGAL PARON.

hope he tossed it back in their faces and told them to kiss off!

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 2, 2012 12:24:19 PM

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