Friday, May 22, 2015

EXTRA: Blagojevich inactivity on clemency lingers into Rauner years

One of the quirks of the time that Rod Blagojevich was governor of Illinois was that, while he had the perk of being able to grant clemency as he saw fit, he chose not to use it that often.

BLAGOJEVICH: Slacked off on clemency
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday granted clemency to seven people with criminal records, while also rejecting the requests for another 144 people. The seven who had their requests approved can now file legal actions that could have their criminal records expunged.

A CHANCE AT a clean slate.

It is one of the powers that governors get.

Yet it was one that Blagojevich didn’t think much of using. Rauner says there are some 3,000 clemency petitions pending from previous administrations, and some of them date back to Blagojevich’s final year in office.

I suppose with all the legal hassles that Blagojevich endured during the end of his gubernatorial stint, it could be excused. Then again, maybe he was just someone who didn’t care about fulfilling his full duties – which included being a final check in the legal system.

WHEN ALL ELSE fails, there’s always the chance that a governor can fix a mistake. It’s the reason that clemency is a legitimate power for a governor to have.

RAUNER: Still working on Blagojevich mess
For the record, Pat Quinn had to work his way through the Blagojevich inactivity. He made decisions on 3,358 cases, approving pardons for 1,239 people.

But there’s still quite a few cases that still need to be addressed.

It will be interesting to see how frequently Rauner chooses to act on closing the backlog. This is the second time in his five months as governor that Rauner has made a decision, and his office says it has developed a process to ensure the issue does not continue to linger.

QUINN: Worked his way thru backlog
IT WILL BE nice when there isn’t any backlog to process.

Although the ultimate sense of justice may come if Blagojevich himself has to wind up seeking clemency – although his case being in the federal court system, he has to rely on the president himself to decide whether there’s a need for sympathy.

Which could mean that Barack Obama winds up having to decide whether to bother deciding on the case, or just deciding to pass it off to a future president while Blagojevich continues to rot in that federal correctional center in Colorado.


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