Legal challenge claims Arizona clemency board is stacked with former law enforcement officers, violating law

Katie R. Ochoa

The Arizona Board of Government Clemency represents 1 of the past chances for persons condemned to die to conserve them selves from the dying penalty.

But a lawful obstacle from a gentleman on dying row statements the board is stuffed with law enforcement and as a result inherently prejudiced from him.

Right after a defendant has fatigued their appeals approach, and an execution date has been set, the clemency procedure commences.

Defendants have a hearing prior to the board the place they can make their circumstance for mercy.

The board then votes to make a advice to the governor as to no matter if to grant some kind of reduction in the type of a “Commutation of Sentence and/or a Reprieve.” The governor can take or deny the board’s recommendation.

Clarence Dixon, sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin, is scheduled to go just before the board on April 28. His execution is scheduled for May 11.

In a Petition for Special Action submitted in Maricopa County Exceptional Court, Dixon’s legal team promises the Board of Executive Clemency is “illegally constituted.”

“Mr. Dixon is entitled to a truthful clemency hearing ahead of an neutral Clemency Board,” Dixon’s legal professional Joshua Spears reported in a statement. “To guarantee a reasonable listening to, Arizona regulation limitations the Board to no extra than two users from the exact same qualified self-control.

“If the Board proceeds with 3 of its 4 members becoming law enforcement officers, it will violate Mr. Dixon’s suitable to a fair hearing that complies with thanks course of action and the simple requirements of Arizona law,” Spears said.

The 5-member board at this time has a single emptiness. Of the remaining four members, the lawsuit states that 3 associates — Salvatore Freni, Louis Quinonez and Michael Johnson — are retired regulation enforcement officers, with a combined whole of 85 several years of support in law enforcement.

“The only member who has not served instantly as a regulation enforcement officer, Board

Chair Mina Mendez, served as an Assistant Legal professional Basic in the Arizona Attorney General’s Business for 6 a long time,” the petition notes.

The lawsuit alleges the present-day board composition violates condition law, and requests the courtroom “declare the choice, nomination, appointment, and affirmation of Salvatore Freni, Louis Quinonez, and Michael Johnson null and void and order Respondents to constitute a Board of Govt Clemency which complies with state legislation and point out and federal because of approach.”

Dixon’s attorneys requested to postpone his clemency hearing until eventually the circumstance is fixed, which would necessitate suspending his execution.

A spokesperson for the Board of Government Clemency mentioned they don’t remark on pending litigation.

Have a news tip on Arizona prisons? Attain the reporter at [email protected]blic.com or at 812-243-5582. Observe him on Twitter @JimmyJenkins.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Lawful obstacle: Arizona clemency board stacked with previous officers

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