No, accepting a pardon does not mean accepting guilt

The claim that Joe Arpaio implicitly admitted guilt by accepting Trump’s pardon is junk. The proof people cite for this claim comes from dicta in a 1915 SCOTUS case. That is not binding law. Furthermore, the lower court prior to that ruling pointed out that there are a myriad of reasons why someone might accept a pardon. This was and is binding law because it is part of the reasoning for the ruling. Double furthermore, the US Attorney General’s office kept records for the reasons for pardons well after that 1915 case. Triple furthermore, there are federal laws that account for compensating people who are given pardons due to innocence. Quadruple furthermore, the 1915 case pre-dates Alford, which found that a defendant can explicitly maintain innocence while accepting a plea; the logic from Alford inherently says the use of something from the justice system is not an acceptance or blessing of that thing.

Joe Arpaio is a piece of shit and it’s garbage that Trump pardoned him, but the forced attempt at catharsis through a willful or ignorant misuse of a 100+ year old, irrelevant ruling is also shit and garbage. It’s shit and garbage all the way down.

Advertisements

One of Baldacci’s last acts: Morally outstanding

One of now former Maine Governor John Baldacci’s final acts was one I cannot help but admire so much.

In one of his final acts as governor, John Baldacci signed an order Wednesday pardoning a Portland man [Touch Rin Svay] who faced deportation to Cambodia because of a drunken-driving crash that killed his sister [Sary Svay] 10 years ago.

Although he had lived in the United States since he was 4, he faced likely deportation because he was born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp on the Thai border. He does not speak Cambodian and has no ties to that country.

The sentencing judge said deporting Svay would be “a horrible and unjust resolution.” Svay’s immigration attorney, Beth Stickney, said Svay’s only way to stay in the country was a pardon, a rarely used power the governor has to forgive crimes.

Baldacci said in a prepared statement that he issued the pardon largely because of Sary Svay’s two children and Touch Rin Svay’s role in supporting them.

“He has complied with the terms of his sentence, and has turned his life around,” Baldacci said. “But, in my mind, he continues to have an obligation to his sister’s two children — his niece and nephew — to be involved in their lives and to explain to them his actions. He is actively involved in their lives, and his debt cannot be fully repaid unless he maintains that supporting role.”

The article continues that Svay was due a pardon in 2004, but he admitted to minor transgressions of his parole and that caused a delay (as well as another 5 months in prison). Other than that, however, Svay has been a model citizen since completing his original sentence and subsequent probation violation, holding a steady job and helping to care for his niece and nephew. I greatly admire Gov. Baldacci for his decision. Svay has no connection to Cambodia; deporting him would be nothing short of inhumane. The right call was made today.

(Gov. Baldacci also pardoned a second man who had served a morally trivial but legally significant conviction from 18 years ago. That man, who was not named in the article, faced a similar situation, with all his family ties existing in Maine.)

Pardon for Jim Morrison

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is considering giving a pardon to Jim Morrison for a 1969 incident in Miami.

At one point Morrison may or may not have exposed himself to the crowd, leading to his arrest a few days later for indecent exposure. Morrison died before serving his six-month sentence, and a contingent of Doors fans have been lobbying for his posthumous pardoning ever since–which brings us to this week, when outgoing Florida governor Charlie Crist hinted that he may at long last clear Morrison’s name before leaving office.

“Candidly, it’s something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, but it’s something I’m willing to look into in the time I have left,” Crist told The Hill in a recent interview. “Anything is possible.” The reporter adds that “Crist said he won’t make the decision lightly, noting the many complexities surrounding the 41-year-old case. Numerous sound recordings from the show exist, for example, but Morrison’s defenders say none of the scores of photographs from the show prove the exposure charge.” The reporter quotes Crist as saying, “We would have to look into all of that.”

I love when politicians come down to their final few weeks in office. If they aren’t doing something awesome, they’re at least doing something interesting. That’s the case with Crist. In the end, this isn’t really that important. But it is a nice middle finger to the ultra-conservative bias against that new rock and/or roll music all the kids seemed to like back then.