A judge yesterday in Mississippi put a hold on some of the nearly 200 pardons issued Tuesday by outgoing Republican Governor Haley Barbour.
As was first reported by the Cottonmouth blog, the Mississippi Constitution requires convicts to publish a newspaper notice that they're applying for a pardon, 30 days ahead of time, in the county where they committed their crime. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the state's highest-ranking Democrat, says that doesn't appear to have happened in many of the cases. "Unfortunately, our research has revealed that Governor Barbour violated the Constitution," Mr. Hood said. He asked Hinds County Judge Tomie Green to block the release of 21 current inmates Governor Barbour had pardoned. Deciding the AG had a good chance of winning, Judge Green issued an injunction on letting the prisoners go.
A little context, followed by a little amazing: In 2010, Judge Green sentenced a well-to-do Jackson woman who got conditional clemency from Mr. Barbour and has become one of the pardon story headlines in my hometown Mississippi paper. She'd been sent to prison for 18 years for killing two people while driving drunk. The year before, Judge Green sentenced a less well-to-do man to similar time for a similar crime. (In case you're wondering, both defendants were white.) The first defendant got mercy from Governor Barbour; the second did not. As you can see on this bracing video of sentencing in the first case, Judge Green seems like no one to mess with, even if you're the former governor.
OK, now the amazing. North Mississippi Commentor points out the case of a man Governor Barbour pardoned for felony DUI. At the time of his pardon yesterday, officials had asked to have his parole revoked.
The reason? As North Mississippi Commentor tracks it down, he had been arrested on a new charge of felony DUI in October after a wreck that killed an 18-year-old young woman. The pardon was timely, the blog writes -- "I wonder if the decision makers in the Governor's mansion know how timely." His pardon, executive order 1095, is listed (pdf) as "full, complete and unconditional."
For Governor Barbour's history of pardons, especially his record for pardoning men who killed their wives or girlfriends, check out the Jackson Free Press and the Biloxi Sun-Herald. As for Mr. Barbour himself, it was announced yesterday that he's off to his old lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. He'll also, we learned today, work in Mississippi for a law firm.