Friday, January 09, 2015

Pence Pardons Convicted Cocaine Dealer In One Of Three Pardon Orders Issued

Gov. Mike Pence was criticized recently because he had not granted any pardons since taking office in January 2013. He promised to announce his first pardons after the first of the year, and he did so today in granting three pardons. A 39-year old Lake County woman, Stephanie Davis, received a pardon for a 1999 felony theft conviction. A 41-year old White County man, Hans Schmitter, received a pardon for his 1992 convictions for theft, residential entry and receipt of stolen property. The third pardon went to a 46-year old Indianapolis resident, Marquita Braxton, who was convicted in 1993 for three felony charges of dealing cocaine in Madison County.

A 1995 Supreme Court case in which Braxton appealed the revocation of her probation provides more information than is included in Pence's brief order of pardon accepting the recommendation of the Indiana Parole Board. Braxton received a 15-year sentence for her crime; however, the trial court suspended all but two years of her sentence. She served one year in the Madison County Jail and was allowed to serve the remaining one year on home detention. Six months into her home detention, Braxton was arrested for tampering with the ankle bracelet she was required to wear. When she was arrested, she became "belligerent, loud and argumentative, leading to an additional charge for disorderly conduct. At her booking, police found a marijuana cigarette in her possession. A subsequent drug test revealed she tested positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana.

The trial court found that Braxton has violated the terms of her probation and home detention, by failing to submit to the recommended drug treatment, by possessing and using marijuana and by being arrested for disorderly conduct and ordered her to serve the balance of her 13-year prison sentence. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court on due process grounds, but the Supreme Court vacated that order and affirmed the trial court's sentencing order. According to the Department of Corrections offender database, Braxton was released after serving only four years of her 13-year sentence.

UPDATE: A Sun-Times story on outgoing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's final pardon before leaving office struck me as a case particularly suitable for a pardon:
The recipent of Quinn’s pardon is Alan Beaman, of Rockford, who was accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1993 and spent 13 of his 50-year prison sentence behind bars before his case was thrown out in 2008 for prosecutorial misconduct. 
The charges were dismissed in 2009; Beaman was then exonerated by DNA evidence, and in 2013 he was granted a certificate of innocence by the judge. A gubernatorial pardon is the last step to clear his name entirely. 
Beaman, who had continued his education while in prison, now works as a master electrician and is married with two children.
That got me to to thinking that perhaps the man most deserving of a pardon in Indiana is David Camm, the former Indiana State Police trooper who spent 13 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of killing his wife and two children at his Georgetown home. Prosecutors got three cracks at trying Camm for the senseless murders, and multiple theories for how the murders were committed at each successive trial before a jury in Boone County acquitted him. There was ample evidence of prosecutorial misconduct throughout Camm's entire case, which has left a black eye on Indiana's criminal justice system, none of which has ever been investigated.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

what kind of Republican clout do these 3 people have?

Anonymous said...

Pat Quinn never met a criminal he didn't like....after all, how'd he become governor?

LamLawIndy said...

I make it a point of not condemning nor praising a governor for pardoning or refraining from pardoning. It's a plenary power so it's pointless to quibble over it unless there's proof of chicanery (à la ALLEGEDLY Ray Blanton style).