Sunday, June 15, 2008

Romney denied pardons in Massachusetts, even from war veteran

A lot of people have probably read this article by now because it was reported by the Associated Press and featured on Yahoo! News, USA Today, CNN, and several other major media outlets.

How does he expect people to find employment and/or housing?

BOSTON (AP) — A decorated Iraq war veteran, convicted as a boy for a pellet gun shooting, seemed like an ideal candidate for a pardon from then - Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. But Romney, now a U.S. Republican presidential candidate, said no — twice — despite the recommendation of the Commonwealth's Board of Pardons.

At age 13, Anthony Circosta was convicted of assault for shooting another boy in the arm with a BB gun, a shot that did not break the skin. Circosta worked his way through college, joined the Army National Guard and led a platoon of 20 soldiers in Iraq's deadly Sunni triangle.

In 2005, as he was serving in Iraq, he sought a pardon to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer. "I've done everything I can to give back to my state and my community and my country, and my commonwealth to get brushed aside is very frustrating," said Circosta, 29.

In his presidential bid, Romney often proudly points out that he was the first governor in modern Massachusetts history to deny every request for a pardon or commutation during his four years in office. He says he refused pardons because he did not want to overturn a jury.

But critics argue that the blanket policy is an abdication of a key power given governors and the president — the ability to recognize how someone convicted of a past crime has turned their life around.

During the four years Romney was in office, 100 requests for commutations and 172 requests for pardons were filed in the state. All were denied.

While he refused all requests for pardons as Governor, Romney has said that could change if he is elected president. Asked in last week's debate if he would consider pardoning Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation, Romney said: "It's worth looking at that. I will study it very closely if I'm lucky enough to be president. And I'd keep that option open."

During his first year in office, the Board of Pardons recommended 11 pardons and two commutations. After Romney decided against granting any, the number of hearings dropped dramatically. During the next three years, the board recommended just four pardons and a single commutation.

His Excellency, Governor Romney rejected every one.

> Posted by Records Removal Services. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rhode Island House of Representatives OKs bill to destroy criminal records

Despite objections from the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Attorney General, the State Police and the Governor, the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations House of Representatives voted 46 to 17 for a bill to quash and destroy the records of criminal cases in which the accused was given a deferred sentence, usually in exchange for sparing the state a trial by pleading no contest or guilty to a crime.

The bill sailed through the House with no debate yesterday after a heated — but short-circuited debate earlier this week — in which proponents assured their colleagues it was aimed at helping people remove from their records youthful indiscretions that were keeping them from moving ahead in life, school and jobs, and opponents noted the bill goes much further than the state’s existing expungement law in that it is not limited to nonviolent crimes by first-time offenders.

Beyond that, critics argued that it could be used as a legal club to try to prevent newspapers from publishing facts that the public already knows about crimes — or perhaps should know — if they involve candidates for a job, including public office. Current state law bars people with certain felony convictions from obtaining state licenses to work in nursing, social work and auto repair: this would provide a way around that.

“So now we are rewriting history and telling the newspaper they can’t refer to something that everybody knows about?” Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt, R-North Kingstown, asked rhetorically.

Current law already allows the expungement of a single nonviolent offense from the record of a first-time offender five years after he or she has completed a sentence for a misdemeanor, or 10 years after completing a sentence for a felony.

Despite efforts over the years by the minority community, the criminal defense bar and the gun lobby to shorten the waiting periods, this law remains intact and was used to remove 4,360 misdemeanors and 625 felonies from the public record last year alone, and 28,417 criminal cases from the public record since 2000.

Yesterday’s bill was sparked by a November decision by the Rhode Island Supreme Court on the treatment of cases in which the admitted criminal had been given a deferred prison sentence, as was the case in a number of high-profile cases involving accused stalkers, embezzlers, an admitted accomplice to a gunpoint robbery in Waterplace Park who traded testimony for a reduced sentence, one of the admitted co-conspirators in the Lincoln bribery scandal and at least one child molester.

The court's decision centered on two admitted criminals foiled by a judge in their efforts to get their records expunged. One had pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery; the other to a drug-possession charge. Both received deferred sentences. They both appealed to the high court after a judge ruled them ineligible for expungement: the first because he had committed a violent crime, and the second because she got into further trouble.

"Because they never were actually sentenced," their lawyer argued that "they had not been convicted of any offense and therefore all records involving their arrest and plea should be erased." But the Supreme Court disagreed. Since "a plea of nolo contendere is an implied confession of guilt," the court said "it follows that such a plea constitutes a conviction for purposes of weighing who is and is not eligible for expungement, even when it has been followed by a deferred sentence."

> Posted by Records Removal Services. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.

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> Posted by Records Removal Services. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.