Godsey [U. Cincinnati]: AG Nominee Gonzales’ Texas Clemency Memos To Governor Bush
Godsey [U. Cincinnati]: AG Nominee Gonzales’ Texas Clemency Memos To Governor Bush

Mark Godsey, University of Cincinnati College of Law:

"An article that appeared last year in the Atlantic Monthly about clemency memos written by Alberto R. Gonzales to George Bush while he was Governor of Texas is of renewed importance after Bush last week nominated Gonzales to take Ashcroft's post as AG.

The article deals with the 57 clemency memos that Gonzales wrote to Bush while Gonzales served as Bush' legal counsel in Texas.  The author, Alan Berlow, obtained the confidential memos through Texas' public information laws, and found that they ''repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.''

For example, Berlow cited the case of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded man who was executed for the murder of a restaurant employee. Washington's jury was not informed of the degree of his retardation or of the severe abuse he received growing up. Washington's lawyers did not retain mental health experts for Washington's defense.

While Washington's 30-page clemency petition focused on his retardation and his ineffective counsel, Gonzales presented Bush instead with a three-page document that mentioned Washington's petition only to state that it had been denied by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

In another case, Gonzales failed to apprise Bush that the State's key witness had recanted, and also failed to mention that law enforcement officials had lied at trial about the favorable deal they had given another witness in exchange for him implicating the defendant.

For more, click here." [November 15, 2004; CrimProf Blog has the post]

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