I just finished reading Richard Rios’ commentary (Capitol Weekly, Dec. 8,
When Our System Fails Us) that calls for removing death penalty clemency
authority from the Governor’s purview and giving it to an independent
Clemency Review Board. His article only serves to reaffirm my belief that
there is nothing more dangerous than a newly minted lawyer who has loosed
himself on society to single handedly cure what he believes to be one of its
Declaring that our system has failed us, Rios suggests that elected
officials may base clemency decisions on factors other than the merits of
the case, such as political considerations. He also expresses concern that
any clemency decision by an elected official may not be fair or impartial
because the politician must consider public opinion in the decision making
process. Mr. Rios is absolutely right. But for the sake of all condemned
inmates, he should pray that the system remains just that way, and that his
suggestions not be taken seriously.
Clemency requests are generally made only after all other legal appeals have
been exhausted. This signifies that the case has already been reviewed and
upheld on its merits by many layers of independent judges at the Appellate
and Supreme Court level. A Clemency Review Board that decides matters based
solely on clear and consistent legal standards as Mr. Rios suggests, will
have no choice but to rubber stamp the courts’ decisions, denying the inmate
any meaningful avenue of appeal.
Like it or not, the continued existence of the death penalty reflects the
collective will of the people of California as expressed through their
legislators, the courts and our juries. The creation of a Clemency Review
Board circumvents that will by adding another layer to our bureaucracy and
needlessly prolonging a process that is already painful to the condemned,
his family, the victim’s friends and family, and society.
Michael Morgan, Newport Beach
If you do a follow up on the article in Capitol Weekly, you might want to
contact me for some views on the subject. First, I live in the District.
Second, I write on these issues (see HispanicVista.com and calnews.com and
North County Times, the newspaper of record in the 50th).
The only “Hispanic” surveys that are real on the issue of illegals are among
Mexican Americans and legally resident Mexican nationals. Thus, no Time
Magazine poll is accurate nor any in Seattle. The only meaningful polls on
the subject must take place in California, Arizona or Texas.
Secondly, there is overwhelming evidence that illegals do not appreciably
lower wages in the U.S.among most Mexican Americans, 75 percent of whom are
middle or upper middle income people.
As for Brian Bilbray, he was defeated for re-election by the lightest of
lightweight Democrats in the entire state. His unreasonableness on the
issue of illegals caused him to lose re-election as an incumbent (not
redundant). The 50th has about 25 percent Hispanic voters, many of them
Republican, as they are usually economically comfortable.
Raoul Lowery Contreras, San Diego