CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, November 15, 2004

AG Nominee Gonzales' Texas Clemency Memos To Governor Bush

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.

Mark Godsey

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I am vehemently, actively opposed to the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) told the Associated Press that Gonzales’ confirmation hearing "may be the only remaining forum in which to examine more fully the steps that were taken to weaken U.S. policy on torture in the period that led to the prison scandals at Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan."
I have been all over the net for the last two weeks trying to find out some basic information about the Gonzales Confirmation hearings and the appointment process. I have been to high school teachers, history and law professors. I have even been reading about the confirmation hearings of Ashcroft. Can one of your informed readers please tell me:

1) Is there any limit to the questions the Senate Judiciary Committee can ask Gonzales?

2) Can they request documents?

3) Is there a time limit to each committee member?

4) Once it gets to the floor of the Senate, is there any limit on the time each Senator can take? Any limit on questions they can ask Gonzales? Can they request documents?

5) Is there anything that could delay or prolong these hearings?

6) Is filibuster allowed? Is it effective?

Once you've notified all the committee members, your Senator, (and everyone else's too), contributed to Veterans for Common Sense ad campaign, is there anything else one can do?

Thank you.

Posted by: Apian | Dec 29, 2004 2:53:51 PM

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