Claiming that the Governor is free to appoint, reappoint – or not reappoint – clemency board members for any reason at all, Arizona Assistant Attorney General Kelly Gillilian-Gibson has asked a federal appeals court to rebuff a last-minute bid by inmate Edward Schad to delay his scheduled Wednesday execution. Joining in the claim of board bias is Robert Glen Jones, Jr., scheduled to be executed later this month.
In a moment of candor, Gillian-Gibson stated that it is very possible that Governor Brewer refused to reappoint three members of the clemency board because she was unhappy with how they had voted on some high-profile cases. It is rumored that the attorney got that message from Scott Smith, who is now the Governor’s Chief of Staff.
Lawyers representing Schad in his clemency appeal contend that Brewer was very disappointed on at least two of these cases, and denied the clemency decisions presented by the Board. Reportedly, she was extremely displeased by these decisions which she contends “forced” her to deny these petitions in order to allow the executions to proceed.
Federal Public Defender Kelly Henry, in her appellate filings in the Schad case, claims that the Governor and her staff made “object lessons” of recent clemency board members who had supported prior requests by inmates. She adds that “…this message was communicated to the current (three-member) board”, thus tainting the way in which members would approach new cases, including Schad’s. She also dismissed as blatantly self-serving statements by current board members arguing that their testimony would be totally impartial.
Another bizarre case of clemency tampering by Brewer involving the former board relates to sentencing of a man convicted of having 10 images of child pornography on his computer to consecutive prison terms totaling 90 years. While the board found this sentencing to be excessive, the Governor arbitrarily rejected their decision!
While our Governor may have been technically and legally in keeping with the letter of the law in rejecting clemency recommendations by the former board and refusing to reappoint these members, I submit that these unconscionable actions fly completely in the face of the spirit of the law. These totally arbitrary and capricious actions on the part of the Governor fail to pass any moral acid test that I am aware of! Arizona citizens must speak up and inform Jan Brewer and her cronies in no uncertain terms that politically and ideologically motivated playing with peoples’ lives will not be tolerated by the voters of this state!
“State says execution should go forward” by Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, appearing in Arizona Daily Star October 7, 2013