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Aug-14-2010 15:42TweetFollow @OregonNews
Is there a 'Peoples' Solution' to Wrongful Convictions in Oregon?Ersun Warncke Salem-News.com
The shortest and quickest route to justice here is to demand that Governors exercise their Constitutional duties.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - All I can say is that there is already a "solution" to wrongful convictions, which is the authority of the Governor to pardon wrongfully convicted individuals, completely superseding the entire judiciary, even the Supreme Court of the U.S. (for State convictions, not for Federal).
Governors in general, and certainly in Oregon, have abdicated their Constitutional duties and responsibilities in this area.
In order to appropriately execute their Constitutional duties, Governors have a duty to maintain a staff that accepts petitions from convicts, promptly investigates them, and issues pardons and commutations in a timely manor that renders justice to the falsely convicted.
As far as I can tell, this does not happen.
The U.S. Presidents have a long record of selling pardons and commutations, as well as using them to free their co-conspirators in crimes, and they throw in some feel-good pardons in order to pad the press releases for this activity.
Pardons by Oregon governors are even more rare. According to WW, Kitzhaber gave only 4 pardons in 8 years, and Kulongoski gave 6 during the first 4.5 years of his term.
All of these pardons are for people who unquestionably committed crimes.
What can be seen then is that the past two Governors are adhering to a very narrow and unconstitutional interpretation of their Constitutional authority, which I would wager good money is prevalent in esteemed legal circles. This would be the idea that pardons are not to be used to review the conduct of the judiciary, but only to overturn proper convictions when exigent circumstances (press, bribes, etc.) make this desirable.
The limitation of pardons to cases where guilt is undisputed is clearly contrary to the Constitutional scheme and history of law. The authority of the President/Governor is, as a matter of historical legal evolution, derived from the authority of monarchs. Under the monarchical system, the king maintained Courts of Equity that had the power to override civil courts in order to provide justice.
The Constitutional arrangement of giving the authority of pardon to elected executives is clearly derived from this historical tradition, and is meant in the same way to provide a safeguard against corruption and incompetence in the courts. (On a side note, courts of equity existed in the U.S. until the beginning of the 20th century.)
The placement of authority to grant clemency to convicts in the hands of the executive also reflects the Constitutional design, which makes the executive ultimately responsible for all of the acts of the State.
The executive has the authority to override both the legislative and judiciary branches with vetos and pardons.
This design has the purposeful intent of making the executive the person who is ultimately responsible for all of the conduct of the State.
Once again, this system evolved out of monarchy, and the executive in this system holds the place of a monarch in the old system, but with explicit Constitutional constraints on their authority.
There is already a well established law in place for giving justice in cases of wrongful convictions. Governors have chosen to abdicate their Constitutional duties, which renders the law ineffective.
Since the Constitution already envisions and deals with the problem of wrongful convictions, and yet has been willfully subverted, I do not personally see how any new Constitutional innovations would remedy this problem.
The shortest and quickest route to justice here is to demand that Governors exercise their Constitutional duties. If you cannot force them to do that, then you are unlikely to make much headway in reform by other routes, although that is just my opinion.
This is the story in question, the conviction of Terrence Kimble:
Salem-News.com Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.
Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.
You can write to Ersun at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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