Media Regurgitates Huckabee and Wayne Dumond
ABC is already moving from the Seattle suspect to Mike Huckabee's pardon of Wayne Dumond with "Huckabee Helped Set Rapist Free Who Later Killed Missouri Woman."
ABC didn't seek out Wayne Dumond's attorney for information about the case. That's okay, I did, in 2007.
Former TalkLeft contributor, Last Night in Little Rock also known as John Wesley Hall (immediate Past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers), was Wayne Dumond's post-conviction attorney. (The Arkansas Times profiled him here earlier this year. )In addition to seeking post-conviction relief in the state courts, John represented Dumond in his federal habeas actions, the pre-Huckabee clemency request and in the civil case against Sheriff Coolidge Conlee, who displayed Dumond's castrated testicles on a jar on his desk. John obtained a $150,000.00 verdict for Dumond for the tort of outrage. The Sheriff later died in prison while serving his own 20 year sentence for extortion, gambling and other crimes. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/26/96, available on Lexis.com)
For Dumond and Huckabee, all of our coverage is here. Also check out four of the court opinions in his case, found below:
The thing about Huckabee's pardons was not that they were bad, but that several made no sense. As we wrote here,
Huckabee granted a lot of deserved pardons while in office, particularly for drug offenders serving excessive sentences. A Governor's use of clemency and pardon power is a good thing. The problem with Huckabee's exercise of the power is that several of his decisions make no sense, he refused to explain his decisions, and he injected his religion into it.
And, on Huckabee's explanations:
Instead of saying, "Yes, I believed Dumond should have been paroled, his sentence was too long, there were doubts about his guilt and I made my thoughts known to the parole board," Huckabee is all over the map, saying he didn't know a lot about the case; he denied clemency and didn't pressure the parole board; it's former Lt. Governor Jim Tucker's fault for reducing Dumond's sentence to 39 1/2 years, making him eligible for parole; Bill Clinton must have known about it; and on and on.
Sometimes the truth will set you free. I think it's too late now for Huckabee. He's caught in a Willie Horton trap, and it's a web of his own making.
Which is really too bad, because while I don't want any Republican as President, someone like Huckabee who is willing to exercise clemency, even if wrong sometimes, is preferable to a candidate like Giuliani who is so intent on furthering his law and order image that he is only capable of showing compassion for former offenders who happen to be his cronies and business associates.
The last thing we need is more Governors hesitant to grant clemency and pardons. By turning the conversation to Wayne Dumond and attacking Huckabee, we're risking the prospects of many other deserving inmates. At a time when states are finally seeing their way to reducing prison time as a way out of their economic problems, when the U.S. continues to imprison more than 2 million people, we need for cooler heads to prevail. Yes, sometimes those granted clemency or parole reoffend. This shouldn't be an argument for restricting it.
We cannot insure that somebody will not re-offend. At the same time, we should not keep others locked up who probably won't just because we're afraid of the political consequences.
The Seattle case is a tragedy. The crime is horrific. But we should never enact policies or laws based on grief or passion arising from a singular event. Cooler heads are needed.
And maybe if Clemmons hadn't been sentenced at 17 to 60 years in prison for a garden-variety burglary, he wouldn't have gone wacko.
From my reading of his Arkansas case decisions last night (available on Lexis.com), the 60 year sentence was determined by a federal court in a habeas action to need reexamination on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. It was the only one of five convictions being challenged that the court found fault with. The federal court said his attorney failed to seek the recusal of the judge, who before trial accused Clemons of threatening him.
The case got sent back to Arkansas which upheld the conviction and sentence, holding essentially, the lawyer decided to trust the judge to be fair and believed the judge would give concurrent sentences but it turned out he was wrong and so be it, people make mistakes, the 60 year sentence (30 years per each of two counts) stands. That might be enough to send any 17 year old over the edge.
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