Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rep. Jessica Upshaw (R - Diamondhead) and Speaker Philip Gunn (R - Clinton) team up to kill pardon hearings

Two days ago, I mentioned that Rep. Jessica Upshaw (R - Diamondhead) raised a point of order in an attempt to kill the Baria-Moak Amendment on SB 2195.  The Baria-Moak Amendment would require a public hearing before a pardon could be granted.  Had such a law been in place prior to former Governor Haley Barbour's Pardonpalooza in January, the public would have at least been aware that a large number of people were seeking relief from Barbour.

With the Mississippi Supreme Court finding that the 1890 Constitution's requirement of publication prior to the issuance of a pardon isn't really an enforceable requirement, legislation such as this is sorely needed.  We won't be getting any legislation to increase public awareness of pending pardon applications, though, as every single last pardon bill has died this term, and Speaker Gunn's lawyers determined that the Baria-Moak amendment was not germane.

Several other attempts to amend SB 2195 were made, with each one of them failing.  Rep. Davd Baria (D - Bay St. Louis) and Rep. Bobby Moak (D - Bogue Chitto) tried again to require hearings for violent offenders only, Rep. George Flaggs (D - Vicksburg) attempted to insert a reverse repealer which would send the bill to conference, and Rep. Cecil Brown (D - Jackson) attempted to create some transparency in the clemency process by requiring the Parole Board to keep a record of pardon investigations performed for the Governor.

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