Supreme Court Rules on Pardons

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that pardons issued by former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour are valid.

The former governor pardoned 198 people before finishing his second term Jan. 10. Those included four convicted murderers and a robber who worked as inmate trusties at the Governor's Mansion. Of
those pardoned, only 10 were in jail at the time.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood challenged the pardons.

Hood argued before the Supreme Court Feb. 9 that some pardons didn't meet the requirements of the Mississippi Constitution, which says people seeking pardons must publish notices for 30 days in a newspaper.

Hood has contended the trusties and about 165 others didn't meet that requirement.

Attorneys for Barbour and some of pardon recipients had argued the governor's pardon power can't be challenged.

Hood released a statement after reviewing the 70-page pardon ruling.

Attorney General Jim Hood statement:
“We do respect the decision of the Court, but feel deeply for how it must weigh on the victims and their families. It is these victims and family members who have lost today and the criminals who have won. As Supreme Court Justice Mike Randolph wrote in his dissent, which was supported by Chief Justice William Waller and Justice Randy Pierce: 'Today’s decision is a stunning victory for some lawless convicted felons, and an immeasurable loss for the law-abiding citizens of our State. Our lawyers were unanimous that the 30-day publication requirement in Section 124 of the Constitution was clear that the Governor had no authority to grant a pardon unless the records showed that the 30-day requirement was met. It is truly unfortunate that a majority of the Court has stricken from our Constitution a right to notice of a pardon reserved by the people of Mississippi in our 1890 Constitution. I intend to seek an initiative to amend Section 124 of our Constitution to make it very clear that the judicial branch is responsible for enforcing the 30-day notification period in the future. I am calling on all our victims groups, law enforcement and other volunteers to help me obtain the necessary signatures to place the measure on the ballot."

House Democratic Caucus Leader Bobby Moak also issued the following statement:
“This week marked another sad chapter in the Republican leadership’s ongoing failure to fix Mississippi’s pardon system. The releases earlier this year fly in the face of the justice system and create real public safety concerns for Mississippi families. Now, Republicans have compounded this problem by killing measures that would add accountability to the process. My heart goes out to the victims’ families and I want them to know that we will not rest until we achieve a more just and safe pardon system for Mississippi.”

Barbour and his attorney released statements on the ruling.

Statement from Haley Barbour:
“I’m grateful for the decision issued today by the Supreme Court of Mississippi upholding the Governor’s constitutional authority to exercise clemency. In this decision, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed more than a century of settled law in our state. But this was not only about the power of the pardon or even the power of the office, but about the ability of a governor to grant mercy. As I’ve stated from the beginning, I recognize and respect the natural feelings of victims and their families and I know this has been difficult for many of them. That is why pardons are always subject to a lot of criticism and are generally unpopular. Nevertheless, these were decisions based on repentance, rehabilitation, and redemption, leading to forgiveness and the right defined and given by the state constitution to the governor to offer such people a second chance.”

Statement from Charles E. Griffin, Attorney, Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada, PLLC, lead counsel for Former Governor Haley Barbour:
“Today’s Mississippi Supreme Court decision on the pardons case, including the majority opinion, concurrences and dissents, is collectively one of the most thoughtful and scholarly opinions I have ever read from any court. Personally, I am honored to have been involved in this matter.
I want to again thank the entirety of the Mississippi Supreme Court for not only its prompt, deliberative and careful consideration of this controversial case, but also for its willingness to allow former Governor Barbour to be heard on these important issues, both by a friend of the court brief and by his counsel at oral argument.”

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  • by Ann Nonny on Mar 9, 2012 at 06:35 PM
    Ten were still serving sentences. All the othets were already out. If Hood would focus on the corrupt and pathetic law enforcement/justice system in his state as closely as he is pursuing this MS would be a better place for all.
  • by Rob on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:41 PM
    Good job governor Barbour,you are a good lawyer and was a great governor. There shoud be a law suit to reward the ones that were pardon for having a delay in the process to have someone to question your authority.
  • by Forgiver on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:16 PM
    Fred, God only forgives when we do.
  • by Steve Location: Lauderdale on Mar 9, 2012 at 07:53 AM
    The pardons have been happening for years and now a Democrat Attorney General wants to bring it to the news. This is all political propaganda, how much you want to bet he will be running for govenor next round. He does not care about the pardons.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 9, 2012 at 01:23 PM in reply to Steve
      How can this be political propaganda? No one disputes many of the pardons. It is understood that many of these people were already out of jail. The problem is the hardended criminals, namely those who were convicted of hardened crimes, such as murder and rape. I'm not even referring to those who took someone's life accidentally. I'm talking about those who willfully took someone's life and were sentenced to long jail terms. They should serve that time. That was their punishment. What he did just gives other murderers, rapists, etc. hope that some governor will pardon them. What's to deter people from committing these crimes? It surely isn't the justice system. Lastly, if you had someone you loved murdered or raped, would you want that person back out on the streets? You would feel the same way these people feel.
  • by Disgusted Location: Kemper County on Mar 9, 2012 at 05:44 AM
    If Haley Barbour ever faces the loss of a loved one at the hands of a criminal, let's see how fast he is to forgive.
  • by Fred Location: Collinsville on Mar 8, 2012 at 09:58 PM
    what a chickin little action to sneek this through some loophole. go ahead MS, great job with our laws. why even have laws if some fancy politician just writes his own....haley barbour was a poor excuse for a gov. as his poor choices have shone. By the way, God forgives, not governors.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 9, 2012 at 10:52 AM in reply to Fred
      Go read your Bible....Forgive others as your Father forgiver you.....So much hardness of hearts from the Bible Belt of America....White washed tombs!!!
  • by Disappointed Location: Meridian on Mar 8, 2012 at 06:23 PM
    I am really disappointed in Haley Barbour. Hope he never plans on running for any office again.
  • by veteran Location: lauderdale county on Mar 8, 2012 at 04:40 PM
    I say if any of these pardoned persons committ a crime, the former govenor of mississippi should be listed as a co-defendent. As for the court, they did their job correctly. We have a broken system, lets fix it and move on. Personaly I do not see any changes coming from the current state house or senate. Talk is cheap, actions are what matter.
  • by JoAnn Location: MERIDIAN on Mar 8, 2012 at 03:14 PM
    As I sit here and listen to the people that agree with the Govenors approval to let these murders and the one's with other charges go free, they must have never lost a love one killed for nothing and the person that was responsible was let go within a 2 year span. This is very painful to see the person that killed your love one walking around you as if nothing happened,I think this was a very bad call!
  • by luckydog Location: lost gap on Mar 8, 2012 at 01:40 PM
    well this is how it supposed to work. for all you crying foul @wtok learn the way your govt works
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